This week’s readings seemed very intense. They were definitely sensitive topics but certainly things that need to be addressed as a professional in the school system. As a teacher of younger children, I was naturally drawn to the article, How Common Core’s Recommended Books Fail Children of Color written by Valerie Strauss. I agree with her argument that there are not a lot of books available in this area.
In my classroom we have a variety of books for the children to look by themselves, or to ask a teacher to read and books for the teachers to read aloud to a group. We try to ensure that we have books that reflect the children in our classroom in a positive manner. In her article Strauss writes, “A second reason we must ensure that all children have mirror books is identity development. For African American children, Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are not enough. They must also see African-American artists, writers, political leaders, judges, mathematicians, astronauts, and scientists. The same is true for children of other ethnicities. They must see authors and illustrators who look like them on book jackets.” It is important for children to see mirror images of themselves in a positive manner. This gives them a role model that they can do anything. They are not bound by their socioeconomic status.
Strauss also mentions in her article that children from lower incomes only have books to view from a white and middle to upper class world. This may not be the world they live in and how can they relate to that? We want children to fall in love with reading and to be able to relate to the characters in the book. If the books available to them do not reflect their world, it will be difficult for them to relate and thus they may not want to engage in reading.
This brings me to the second article that caught my attention which was Engaging African American Males in Reading written by Alfred Tatum. For me this article piggybacks on the first article. If you don’t provide books for children that mirror their life, you lose them. This starts at the youngest of ages. You want to engage young children in the love of reading early on. From my own personal experience as a mom and as a teacher, I find that boys have a harder time getting engaged in reading. To me this is because there doesn’t seem to be a lot of books based on their interests. Unfortunately this continues all the way up to middle and high school. So with the limited amount of books to engage boys and then the limited amount of books on African American males, it is no wonder that they are losing the love for reading. There needs to be material out there to inspire and promote males, particularly African American males. Literature should not be one sided either based on race or sex but should encourage, arouse and motivate all readers.
By providing books that highlight all ethnicities in a positive manner, we can help to create a world of readers who see themselves as leaders without boundaries of race or socioeconomics.