As most of us grew up as book worms, I cannot imagine going to the library, my safe haven, and seeing shelves and shelves of books about girls who fought with their siblings and struggled with spelling and wanted to grow up just a little faster, and still weren’t about me. Unfortunately, this is the fate for many kids of underrepresented social, race and ethnic classes. If we, as future educators and book-enthusiasts, want to promote positive reading habits in America’s youth, we need to provide relate material.
As we’ve discussed before, the ability to relate to a text is the key to hooking anyone on reading. If America is so proud of its melting-pot persona, it needs to be reflected in our literature for more than just youthful purposes. Literature is a live documentation of human experiences, thoughts and feelings. It is how we learn about the past because it gives us insight to more than just historical facts. When future generations look back at us do we want them to continue reading literature by “dead white people” like we do? Or do we want to be the generation that changes the singular mindset of literature? Right now we are not on the right track to do so.
Rudine Sims Bishop talks about mirrors and windows in her article published at Ohio State University. By publishing predominantly works by the same type of authors, we are limiting so many kids to windows. These kids have enough windows to look through already in life; in history, in authority and government, in the media. It is time the books they read offer a clean, glittering mirror. Again, how can we expect reading to sweep them off their feet when we are walking them down a path they have never been before? To solve this problem, we need to attack the root. That leads us to another issue at hand, the beginning of this problem is abstract. Are publishers not excepting work by more diverse groups or are those groups not pursuing writing? If it is the later, a solution may be our very topic, providing them with more relatable reading because reading and writing go together like bookmarks and coffee stains.