Diversity & Equity

THE HOW: Diversifying your High School Texts and/or Classroom Library (Part 2)

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If your interested in learning more about diversifying your texts, see Part 1 of this series: THE WHY: Diversifying your High School Texts and /or Classroom Library (Part 1)

The How: Taking inventory

So you already have a classroom library and don’t know where to start? You can use a variety of ways to find out whose voices are missing from your classroom library. See this Edutopia article for suggestions.

This is how I do it. I use https://classroom.booksource.com/ or the app. I have all of my books logged in and students use it to sign books in and out. I also use it to analyze the strengths and weaknesses in my book list. See booksources’ article to find out how it all works. When analyzing my library I click on library lens and then click on diversity. The analyzer tells me what I am doing well, ways that my library can be improved and areas that I should focus on first.

The How: Finding texts to include

So where do you start? How do you know which books to include?

You could start by asking your students themselves. What do they like to read? What would they like to see in the class library? What do they recommend their fellow students read? You could have them do book talks (via video or face to face presentations) or you could have them share in pairs or smaller groups (give Choice Novel Speed Dating a try).

Next look to the experts. Follow the hashtags (#project lit, #disrupt texts, #own voices) or those otganization’s websites.

The ILA (International Literacy Association) has yearly book lists and NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) has a bookshop. Both organizations have committed to equity and diversity in their mandates.

You can also start were I did, by checking out @projectLITcomm, on most social media platforms, for book suggestions, book clubs and information on how to start your own book club. They have curated a list of suggested book titles that they add to annually.

The WNDT (We Need Diverse Texts) group has a book list of texts of lesser known books as well as resources to use when implementing texts.

If you are looking to replace core texts, #DisruptTexts includes teaching guides for 8 texts that you can use in your class.

The How: Getting inventory

So now you know why diversity in your texts is important, what areas you need to improve in your current library and a list of books that you would like to purchase, how do you get the money to buy books?

You can of course buy them yourself but first…

Start with your department or board (literacy consultants if you have them). Perhaps there is money earmarked for new books, equity or new pedological initiatives. Talk to your principal. I agreed to spearhead a research driven initiative to support struggling readers at my school (something I was doing anyway), and share it board wide, on the condition that the principal fund book club books for all classes and class libraries for the other staff.

Look for government subsidies. If you’re in Canada you can claim books up to $1000 on your federal taxes. This article may be helpful if you are in the States.

Look at organizations that fund books. Check out this Reading Rockets article for organizations. In addition to their list check out:

  • Penny Kittle’s Book Love Foundation which has a yearly grant that will help fund classroom libraries (US and Canada).
  • First Book, which provides free books but also has gives extreme discounts on books to schools that can meet the necessary requirements (US and Canada).
  • Check out bookoutlet.ca which sells books that were not sold in stores
  • Check out your local libraries
  • Check out your second hand stores or charity stores (Good will, value village, salvation army…) for cheap used books

Best of luck in your equity endeavors. If you have questions or concerns feel free to reach out for support.

Interested in other blosgs about Equity, see:

Creating an Inclusive Online Classroom: Part 1-Getting to know your students

Why can’t my high school English students read?

Part 1-Overview: How to teach high school student’s how to read: 5 Part blog series


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