My students are enrolled in a tuition-free, college preparatory International Baccalaureate (I.B.) World School tasking them to be future leaders and change agents of our society and planet! Many come from communities that have been historically under-served in terms of access to healthcare, food stability, and social safety nets.
Despite being under-served historically, my scholars are not “at-risk”, they are “at-potential!”
With the right books in front of them, mirroring their identities and lived experiences, there is no border they cannot cross; ceiling they cannot transcend!
“There is a direct correlation between access to books and the level of schooling children attain. Children with access to a 500-book library over the course of their childhoods benefit just as much as those growing up in homes with college-educated parents—gaining an additional 3.2 years of education on average." (Miller & Sharp, 2018).
Typically, children in low-income communities have a single book for every 300 children versus ~13 books PER CHILD in upper-middle income communities.
Book access IS educational equity!
I serve as a reading/writing teacher to nearly 50 students, many of whom are below grade level and who have spent years in the educational system exposed to the same books -- white authors, characters, and leveled readers. Access to books written by people who look like and have been in my scholars' shoes is a powerful next step in motivating children to read not because they have to, but because they want to! More reading = more growth!
Almost all of these books have been vetted by Social Justice Books for being free of bias, broadly representative of characters who are Latino/a, differently-abled, LGBTQ, migrants/refugees, Native peoples, multicultural, etc. A wide array of non-western stories and texts are also present. As an I.B. world school with a mission of broadening our scholars' worldview, this list is an essential element of not just my classroom, but our school and network's mission!
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