I was having a passing conversation recently with a high school senior in a humanities classroom, and he said he hated “school books.” I asked why, and he said the only time black people are in books at school, they are slaves. It made me want to cry. Or maybe scream. Then I thought of asking him to make a sign and post a pic to twitter about this.
There has been a hashtag flying around twitter lately, a campaign and discussion about the need for the available book selection to feature more diversity along a variety of dimensions. I’ve been reading about it, and I’ve seen pleas for these diverse books many people, including publishers and authors and readers and parents.
So here is a plea for teachers (there have probably been others, but here is mine). We need diverse books. There are some opponents of this campaign, and to be clear, I don’t want to force anyone to read or teach anything. But I do want the option. I want more diverse books to be out there, and I want to make better use of the ones we do have in classroom curricula. I dream of a full array of voices and perspectives in order to show my students a big, complex world that is both ugly and beautiful. I’m pretty sure exploring this stuff is the very point of literature.
The teachers I know are working as hard as they can to end opportunity gaps for their students and to help students on their pathways to becoming people of great learning and character. Diverse books would help them do this work. #Weneeddiversebooks