I love buying new books. I think in order to be an elementary teacher, you have to have a weakness for print. I can spend hours browsing the shelves looking for something special to take home. My latest purchase is Matthew de la Peña's Newberry Award winner Last Stop on Market Street. I love the Nana in this story.
I wasn't at the point in my awareness yet of thinking about stories that actually had meaning for them.
Fast Forward a few months later, and I stumbled upon DiverseBooks.org. After reading their mission and vision, I really began to think about what I chose to read aloud to my primary students. It was humbling.
Putting more books featuring diverse characters into the hands of all children.
A world in which all children can see themselves in the pages of a book.
Could my students really see themselves in the pages of the books I read to them each day? Was there anything I could do about this?
I've made small changes over this past year, but nothing that has earned me one of those invisible I'm a Great Teacher badges we secretly like to put on our sleeves from time to time. I made another small goal- If you see a good book that has diverse characters, buy it.
Last week I Skyped with a PhD student at Texas A&M who is researching teacher's views of diverse literature in the classroom, and her questions drew out of me even more thoughts to think about. When asked what challenges I face in regards to using diverse literature in my classroom my first thought was time. Taking the time to find and use these books. But I knew that was just an excuse.
Time, professional development, empathy (or lack of)...there are so many reasons these things slip through the cracks of our teaching. Unfortunately I think it boils down to unconscious bias. No matter what your intentions are, your life experience shades the lens that you look through.
So why do I share this? Accountability mostly. I often let my love of "busy" keep me from thoughtfully making choices in my planning for my classroom. I've had an entire week to think about how to make the last 50 days of this school really count, and what literature I choose to use is a very big piece of the puzzle.
How do you address this issue? Are you on a supportive team or campus that goes out of the way to incorporate these books? I'd love to hear where you are in this part of your teaching journey. :)