This week, the Imagination & Inquiry team is happy to bring you a guest post by recent OSU grad Karly Grice, who is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Millikin University. Karly is a stellar teacher and person, and the project she discusses in this post is literally award-winning. Read on to learn more about the unique assignment Karly implemented to deepen the conversations her students were having around diversity in youth literature and to help students engage in the practice of locating, analyzing, and discussing #OwnVoices books.
But Why Do #WeNeedDiverseBooks Told in #OwnVoices?
The initial episode that led me to create the #OwnVoices Project came at the end of my first semester teaching a multicultural children’s literature course to pre-service teachers. Despite spending the semester discussing the dearth of diversity in children’s literature and the need to incorporate more diverse representations into their future classrooms, my students left the class with only a cursory knowledge of the texts available to them based on the required novels I assigned throughout the term. Students seemed happy to know about books like American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang and Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson and to consider them for use in their future classrooms. However, when we talked about their takeaways from the course, many students wrote complacently about how far diversity in children’s literature had come, as if “yay, we fixed the diversity problem!” and could now move on to other topics. They overlooked the conversations within the field of children’s literature that stressed how much further it still needed to go.