Friday, January 19, 2018

SURVEY!! Who to Feature?

Working on the reading lists I posted all week in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday made me stop and reflect a bit about my reading habits, my teaching, and the classroom environment my students walk into every day.

I've taught maybe a dozen black and biracial black/white kids during my twenty years of teaching, a mix of immigrants and African Americans, but I've taught hundreds and hundreds of Latinx kids. When I look around my classroom, I see a lot of books with non-white characters and stories, and I think I've done a good job at highlighting those books in my displays and teaching. 

However, I have these laminated posters on a row of cabinets. They are freebies I picked up from a display coming down at the local rec center. All are books I love, books I consider classics, books I think all kids should read. But check it out:

Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryHarry PotterThe Secret GardenHarriet the SpyThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Charlotte's Web. Do you notice anything off about this?  After all the reading and thinking I've done about diversity, own voices, and books as both windows and mirrors, I can't in good conscience leave this display as is.  I put my money into books, not posters, so I can't come up with anything this fancy to replace them, but I can shell out six bucks for the color printer this weekend and highlight authors and books that better reflect my classroom. 

As part of my bulletin board outside my classroom I feature Matt de la Peña (Mexican American), Meg Medina (Cuban American), Gary Paulsen (raised in poverty by alcoholics), Julie Murphy (fat and bi representation), Sharon M. Draper (African American) and Thanhha Lai (Vietnamese American). I don't need to repeat them inside the room (though I kind of want a de la Peña shrine, TBH).

Now I have to make some hard choices. I want equal representation between female-identified and male-identified authors. I want to be sure to include Latinx authors, since between 52% and 90% of each of my classes is Latinx. I'd like to include GLBQT authors.  Ideally, the authors would be a) alive, b) writing books my students actually read, and c) quality role models as human being as well as being great authors. Bonus points for being prolific and for being local (in this case, that means Renée Watson and April Henry).  I only have six cabinets, although now that I think about it, I could put them on the six lower cabinet doors as well. One thing at a time though--for now, please vote on the six total that you think I should feature.  Runners-up will go up next. 

Thanks for voting! 


  1. Gah, I cannot vote! Says I need permission to view the form? I would like to help out though, this is an awesome project!!

  2. Fixed it! Thanks for letting me know.

  3. I love that you're doing this, as I only recognized about half the names on your survey (which means I have some books to check out!)


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