Why do I teach?

Installment #9:

I teach because I get to read.

I’m an avid reader. If I wasn’t a teacher, I would still read; however, it is thanks to teaching that I have continued reading and discovering the very best children’s books, picture books, and young adult books.

It is through, and thanks, to my work, that the whole realm of possibility was never shut down or shut away. It is through, and thanks, to my work that I am the best aunt, the best friend, the best neighbor, the best (insert anyone) giving out books at parties or making book recommendations for kids–or at least I consider myself that ๐Ÿ˜œ

Today, I must admit that one of the best reasons, one of the reasons to keep teaching, is getting access to the latest and greatest books.

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Gallery

Amazing stories–expanding my collection for Black History Month, and all year . . .

๐Ÿงก Diverse authors, diverse voices, diverse stories ๐ŸงกIMG_1678

Monthly Advice–January & February

Next month is Black History Month. Black History is American history. Black History is World History. So while learning and celebration, discussion and recognition, should happen all year, February is the focused time of the year.

As we gear up for Black History Month, I challenge all teachers, parents, families, and students to read stories by Black authors and to read about Black history–and when I mean history, I mean dig deep: go beyond the staple names you have heard year after year. Find a new story, a new person, a new part of history.

Elementary teachers, and secondary ELA and History teachers, are uniquely positioned to read to their students. Secondary teachers not in ELA and history, I challenge you to be seen reading such literature and histories.

Need some ideas? I found this list Top 150 Recommended African-American Children’s Books. I wish I had had this years ago! Some I know and love: Brown Girl Dreaming, One Crazy Summer, and Henry’s Freedom Box. Some are new and I can’t wait to read them!

Let’s make this the best Black History Month for all our students–let’s provide them, and ourselves, as many stories as possible, as many mirrors and windows as possible. . .

Diverse Literature: Mirrors & Windows

As I stated in the beginning, I am focused on diverse literature. As noted, it’s an uphill battle. Finding quality is difficult. Finding quality diverse literature is a monumental task.

In my day-to-day conversations, in my daily social media feeds and conversations, in my personal interactions, I have been confronted with confusion, defensiveness, and dismissal.

People are confused. They tell me that children’s books are good–fine as they are, good enough, and mostly feature animals anyway. People are defensive. They have attachments to their own upbringing, their own learning, or just their routine. Re-evaluating their classroom experiences or their teaching practices requires acknowledging a deficit, challenging the status quo, and expanding their worldview. These are emotional endeavors. All of this leads to dismissal. The passion behind the task, the commitment to diversity is relegated to my individual soapbox rather than a collective project for every teacher.

It is easy to be discouraged. It is easy to feel alone. In my research, however, I found my words–my words of rebuttal and my words of personal encouragement: mirrors & windows.

Children are provided a lens in their learning, this lens can either be a mirror or a window. The mirrors are just as important as the windows. Mirrors allow them to be seen and heard, to realize their potential and reaffirm their value. Windows allow them to see others, to realize the potential and reaffirm the value of every person they encounter–whether that is now or in the future, in the classroom or somewhere else.

So, if you need a little encouragement or a reminder on why diverse literature is critical or important; remember, every child needs mirrors and windows, everyone benefits from being seen and seeing others.

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The language of mirrors and windows comes from my original post, the image had a caption that led to researching the concept and finding several articles on it, including one on We are Teachers.

Favorite Books & Gallery

Diverse literature must be meaningful. I received this for my birthday earlier in the year and it is simply amazing.

It’s too long to be read in a single sitting, especially for the younger kids, but it is full of wonderful, RAD women. It’s nonfiction, a genre not as readily utilized in the primary ages, it highlights a history not readily included, and it covers the alphabet–add this to my favorite alphabet books!

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