"Every single kid deserves to see themselves coming off the page."
- John Corey Whaley, author of Highly Illogical Behavior
When I read Anne of Green Gables for the first time, I saw myself.
A spunky kid with red-ish hair, a penchant for telling the truth (to a fault), a desire to prove that anything boys could do girls could do just as well (if not better, thank you very much), and a deep longing to be loved and belong.
Reading about the character of Anne Shirley - and identifying with her, seeing a little bit of myself in her - inspired me to acknowledge parts of myself I didn't know were there. It pushed me to try on courage, to test out creativity, and to practice sharing my ideas.
L.M. Montgomery provided a mirror in which I saw myself reflected, a window through which to see a world different from my own, and a door through which to walk into experiences that stretched and changed me.
To my years teaching middle school Language Arts, trying to find texts that spoke to my students.
Under-representation doesn't even begin to describe it.
I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on race, diversity, equity, or inclusion. I'm learning (in the present and continuous tense). But I do know this much - schools are woefully behind when it comes to equal and accurate representation. There is a disturbing absence of literature featuring diverse and inclusive characters at all levels of education. Students are begging to read books about kids like them - who look like, talk, like, and experience the things they experience.
Because that's what makes reading really fun. And meaningful. And important.
And though I'm no longer in the classroom, I'm trying to change things in a way I can - by making classroom resources for novels that feature diverse and inclusive characters AND making it super easy and accessible for teachers to use.
I want to change the world through what I’m doing. I want kids to feel seen, understood, and valued. I want to encourage kids to think for themselves, see the worth in someone different from them, be curious about the world, and fall in love with reading.
And I know you want that too.