Today I am wondering what I am missing that is right in front of me. As teachers we have a favorite authors, books and genres. We bring our passion into our classroom. We share what we are reading and thinking about.
Yes, I listen to my students, their likes and dislikes – at least I think I listen but I know I also have those areas that are just not my style. There are books that just don’t hold my focus. There are not very many of them since I read pretty widely.
Tonight I hit one of those moments when I realized I am missing something that could be important for my students. I am alway seeking authors who “look” like my students- African American. I am constantly looking for stories and authors who can write from their perspective. I am not seeking the stories of slavery, and history – they are easy to find and there are fabulous books in that genre. I am seeking the everyday story, the funny story and stories that students relate to on a day to day basis.
My husband asked me about Dork Dairies and an article in the New York times this past weekend. As I was looking at it I realized I did not know who the author was for these books. It was a genre I had stayed away from. Looking more closely I saw the author is Rachel Renee Russel. Duh, an African American writer.
My students have been reading the Dork Dairies. They are the hottest item on the library shelf. It is not a book that I have shown must interest in and since students are reading them I have ignored them. I do not need to promote that book. It is getting its own press so to speak but the author is another story. Here is a woman that I should be sharing her story with them.
It is clear I was not listening as well as I thought. Tomorrow I will check out a Dork Dairy if there is one left on the shelf and do a little reading. I think I will also see if they know who the author is and if they can teach me what I don’t know.
(Article from the New York Times – The Grown up behind a tween Phenomenon : http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/26/books/dork-diaries-by-rachel-renee-russell.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0)