I’ve talked a little about my oh so fun and long journey to become a teacher, right? I’m currently in my fourth year of college, and will have another year after switching from high school English to early childhood. Yes, I’m one of those people who has at least one class that revolves around picture books and such, but i’s a lot harder than reading The Cat in the Hat or whatever sad stereotypes you have about it – for shame!
Anyway, I recently realized one of the many difficult things I’ll have to do before I’m “officially” a teacher: I’m going to have to build up my own classroom library. I suppose this might be obvious to some people, and in a way, I already knew it was going to happen, but I had never really thought about it until I was in classes where we specifically look at books to have in our classrooms. Think back to your early classrooms – you hopefully had some awesome memories of great reading nooks and fabulous books and series that your teacher, librarian, or classmates introduced you to, back when Goodreads and other things just weren’t around (well, I assume – I don’t actually know how old Goodreads is).
Anyway, this is a really big responsibility. As we all know, books can expose us to so many wonderful, scary, beautiful, and fascinating things. We can learn about other cultures and traditions (hello, #WeNeedDiverseBooks!), even if we’re stuck in Cookie-Cutter White Middle America or something. So, I need to make sure I have all these amazing books – I can’t just pick up books because they have funny titles or adorable covers.
In just a couple months of classes, I’ve been exposed to lots of wonderfully diverse and entertaining children’s books. There’s Lailah’s Lunchbox, a book that one of my professors actually just read to us, which is about a girl new to America and experiencing her first month of fasting under Ramadan. It teaches children about Ramadan and a little about the Muslim culture, but it also teaches teachers and adults how to handle students and children who have traditions and cultures that they may not know, which makes it even more awesome.
It’s easy to just get books about white children from two-parent households, or simply be drawn to stories about cute animals, but just because they don’t have “races” doesn’t mean you’ve solved the problem of diversity. All kinds of races and cultures need to be represented in a classroom, especially since these young students are tomorrow’s world leaders and activists who really can change the world, or at least their country, state, city, etc.
Quite by chance, I stumbled upon a book about a transgender girl (10,000 Dresses) – just looking at the covering, you wouldn’t necessarily know that it covers such an important issue, even for children, but it does, all while making sure that children can understand. Bailey is a girl who likes dresses, and she’s undeterred by her family who keeps telling her that, as a boy, she should never wear dresses – she even makes a friend who understands by the end! It’s very simplified, without the scary reality that many transgender people face, but that’s alright – children don’t have to realize just how dark a place the world is quite yet, but they’re still being exposed to such an important issue, which is awesome.
I feel like I sort of lost my point, so I’ll get back to it: it’s kind of scary, knowing that I have the responsibility of nurturing future students’ literary thirsts, but I also look forward to it – I want everyone I teach to come away with at least one good literary experience, although I’m still hoping that I’ll make a miracle come true and make everyone book lovers for life.