There is, and continues to be, a lack of diversity in books. So what can you do about it as a teacher? Educate your students about how this shortcoming directly affects our country's literacy problems. As book buyers/readers, your high school students can have an impact on change. Advocacy is the key. A silent bystander contributes... And as a teacher, you're in the perfect position to make a difference in something bigger than just your classroom. Read A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Sophie Blackall with your high school students. (Book image credit: http://www.amazon.com) Do your students notice any issues with this 2015 publication? Then, read to them the controversy... and apologies and refutes. (By the way, Emily Jenkins is E. Lockhart, the author of the YA title We Are Liars. Pretty cool, right?) Another initial discussion point could be NY Times articles by Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers... Addition resources can be found at the end of this blog entry.
TEXT SET FOR ETHNIC DIVERSITY IN LITERATURE This text set could be used with an all-class (required) text featuring diversity (or lack there of!), OR the text set could be used solo. This set offers a variety of genre, format, and reading level for high school students. Remember: Bringing light to the issue is the goal. Foster a desire for improvement. Support the need for change. In the words of Michel Chikwanine's father, in Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War (2015), "If you ever think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito."
*I Am Malala by Yousafzai
Zeitoun by Eggers
Queen of Water by Resau (based on a true story)
*A Long Way Gone by Beah
Becoming Maria by Sonia Manzano
Never Fall Down by McCormick (based on a true story)
*Between the World and Me by Coates
*I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Angelou
The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore
*The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs
Kite Runner by Hosseini
Dreamers of the Day by Russell
Beloved by Morrison
The Invention of Wings by Kidd
In the Time of Butterflies by Alverez
*Things Fall Apart by Achebe
Little Bee by Cleave
The Round House by Eldrich
Euphoria by King
*The Book of Unknown Americans by Henriquez
Sold by McCormick
5 to 1 by Bodger
The Dreamer by Ryan
Graphic Novel/Hybrid format
Persepolis by Satrapi
American Born Chinese by Yang
March: Book 1 by Lewis MAUS by Spiegelman
A Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls are Used in War by Humphreys & Chikwanine
*Four Feet, Two Sandals by Williams
*Rain School by Rumford
The Rough-Face Girl by Martin, illustrated by Shannon
Pink and Say by Polacco
Henry’s Freedom Box by Levine
A Snowy Day by Keats
*As of 11/18/2015, I have not read these YET. But I plan to soon! My choice to add the title to the list is based on research (via SLJ, ALA, Amazon, Goodreads).
http://weneeddiversebooks.org/ – An official campaign for more diversity in literature.
http://www.diversityinya.com/category/book-lists/ – A current list of science fiction/fantasy diverse YA books. *This site offers lots more, too, including updated new release lists!
http://www.psmag.com/books-and-culture/answer-implicit-racism-might-childrens-literature-95094 – A great article answering the question once more: Why do we need Diversity in books?
This video is published by http://www.ctbooktrust.org/ and promotes their #handsupdontspend initiative.
Want more authors from diverse backgrounds? Try some of these, recommended by Book Riot:http://bookriot.com/2015/01/22/reading-diversely-faq-part-2/
This particular podcast got my mind buzzing! It could possibly serve as a good starting point for other teachers, in regards to tackling this concern/issue via the classroom.
Your students may find motivation via this video, promoted by We Need Diverse Books. I (personally) find it always cool to hear from authors themselves!