Modernizing traditional reading lists for diverse learners is an issue that many educators are currently debating. This post is not intended to rehash the “choice versus canon” debate but to give you resources to inform your decision-making process in this area.
Classics in the classroom have been a staple for many years. Rethinking reading lists is something that all teachers should do from time to time. Two great tools available to teachers that will assist in this endeavor are the “Guide for Selecting Anti-Bias Children’s Books” from Social Justice Books and “Ten Quick Ways to Analyze Children’s Books for Sexism and Racism” from Teaching for Change. There are also sites like We Need Diverse Books for diverse book suggestions and special interest lists like American Indians in Children’s Literature. Analyzing the books you are considering for use in your classroom is a practice to embed into your planning.
If you are looking for modern alternatives to classic books, there are many alternatives available. There are a plethora of titles available today, no matter what age level you teach, that offer engaging writing, diversity, inclusivity, and discussion opportunities that correlate directly to many classic titles. For instance, there are many amazing new books about racial injustice. The controversy over the Dr. Seuss books no longer being published by his estate has been debated in many forums this past year. However, many Dr. Seuss titles are still appropriate for use in the classroom, and many other titles considered classics are appropriate alternatives. Graphic novel versions of classic titles are also an excellent classroom alternative! Graphic novels are available in different reading levels, genres, and can be a way to spark interest in the classics.
Reexamining reading lists is something that all classroom teachers should engage in periodically. TeachersFirst has many resources to assist in this endeavor. Whichever books you choose, your students need to see themselves and our great big beautiful world reflected in the pages of those books!