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12 April 2014 @ 06:51 pm
changing times in education  
This post from HuffPo caught my attention: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/18/2022-high-school-demographics_n_4987144.html?&ir=Education&ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000023. In particular this paragraph provided me with some interesting food for thought. "The number of students enrolling in public elementary and secondary schools is expected to decrease 6 percent for whites and 5 percent for American Indian and Alaskan natives between 2011 and 2022. The number of public elementary and secondary school students is expected to increase 2 percent for blacks, 33 percent for Hispanics, 20 percent for Asians and Pacific Islanders and 44 percent for students of two or more races between the same time frame."

Pair this with the discussion going on at Twitter between several authors including Kate Messner tabour the importance of diversity. Here is a screen shot of only part of the conversation: https://twitter.com/KateMessner/status/454953016857088000/photo/1.

And now add in the story from CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/09/living/young-adult-books-diversity-identity/ entitled WHERE'S THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN HARRY POTTER OR THE MEXICAN KATNISS? Here is the quote they pulled from my interview for the article: "I want to see books that reflect a greater diversity overall: socio-econimic, gender, sexual orientation, even lifestyles and geographic setting," said Teri Lesesne, a professor at Sam Houston State University."

It seems so wrong that we need to continue having this discussion. And even more disturbing that there are folks out there who will object to having more diversity on panels where authors present to educators or kids. How can we exclude so many kids from books? How can we not provide windows and mirrors: books that reflect the real faces of our kids as well as books that let them look at the larger world outside of their neighborhoods?

I spend time each semester as I plan out my reading lists for the children's and YA literature courses. I want to be certain that I have that diversity present. I grew up in that "all white world" that Nancy Larrick wrote about in the 1970s. And that world is still pretty white. What can we do? Buy books, share books, read books that are diverse and represent ALL the myriad of kids we have. Dedicate yourself to selecting a wider array of books, seeking out new authors, particularly authors of color. Know the awards that highlight diverse works: Coretta Scott King Award, Pura Belpre Award, Stonewall Award. Read reviews. Scour bookstore shelves (and rearrange them to highlight some of the books that get pushed to the side or back). Attend conferences and look for those new voices, new books, new characters that can help us connect to each and every reader.
 
 
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