One of the challenges of classic American literature is that it tells the story of only one kind of people and only one kind of American experience. It's important that my diverse American students see diversity in the American voices we study in class.
If kids can't see themselves in the literature that they read, it's hard for them to see themselves as authors themselves, or with stories and experiences that others would value.
It's really important that students have access to books that have characters that look like them, and share an American experience that they can identify with, in addition to voices different from their own.
I teach 11th grade American Literature. I would love to allow my students to choose a book to study for 4th quarter in order to be able to discuss the American experience in that book and how it relates to their own. I have a diverse classroom, but my reading selections are limited and do not represent similarly diverse characters. and I think it's really important that we embrace all American voices.
It's so important for students to have access to books with characters who look like them to know that their experience is also included and valued as an American experience.
The diversity of American is one of the things that makes it so beautiful, but it's also one of our biggest challenges. To provide students with opportunities to engage with the different American experiences through novels, and see themselves in people that are different from them is my small way of teaching empathy, connection and compassion.
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