I have been so excited this summer for Teacher Writes! Summer Camp! What a wonderful opportunity to learn, share and reflect. I have been reading daily, writing some (promised myself to do more) but there is this little voice that keeps singing softly to me. At first I could ignore it but each day last week it got just a little louder until it was yelling at me. It sounded just like Marvion in my classroom. You have to understand Marvion is that student you love dearly but is the loudest student you have ever had. He knows he should quiet down but it just is not his nature. And I must say it is a good thing. He wants to be heard and has fabulous things to say but his voice although loud is often missing in the larger picture of things. I am sure that is why he is yelling in my head this summer.
My students are all students of color. They are readers and writers seeking to find their voice through the voice of other writers. They want to know the world through words and experiences that they are not yet having or might never get to. They want to know that they are heard and seen. They are sending me e-mails and google docs from the public library computers seeking names of new books. I want those books to reflect their families and cultures, to have characters that have faces the same color as theirs, to have writers that are role models for them and look like them.
Here is where I am struggling. Although there are great authors this summer working with us, and wonderful teachers and librarians writing with us we all look alike. Can I just say it we are mainly a group of white people. I like white, I am white but want so much to bring a wider variety of characters to my students next fall. I am on the search and need your help. I need to find culturally diversive writers and books. I have a great collection of books on slavery and the underground railroad. I know and love Christopher Paul Curtis (and the Mighty Miss Malone is well worth the read if you have not already done so). BUT…
I am looking for books that show my students they are apart of todays everyday world not just history. I want my students to see the faces of writers who come from families like theirs. I know and share the big name writers all the time but who are the new writers that are missing from our community this summer? How do we engage them in this shared community of readers and writers? How do we get connected to writers for all students? These are our future writers who are looking for friends in the writing community.