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Under-representation of minorities in required reading novels

Vanessa Martin, Editor-in-chief

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Within many school systems, Wake County Public schools included, there is a lack of representation of minorities in books required for English classes.

Minority students may not feel like they are being represented within their English and Language Arts classrooms. Rather than reading books with typical characters who are a part of the majority, teachers should introduce novels with a strong female lead, a person of color or someone who believes in a different religion.

Required reading for English classes includes books such as “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. These books tackle issues in life and discuss themes such as the American Dream or family. Students in Wake County are not introduced to many minority authors or characters. The few novels that are a part of mandatory reading in English classrooms that do represent minorities include “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe and “Night” by Elie Wiesel.

Teachers should push to include minorities on reading lists with books such as “Dear Martin” by Nic Stone, a novel about a young African American male who is falsely accused, and “The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary” by NoNieqa Ramos, a novel in which the protagonist is a Latina teen with family problems. If students have protagonists and characters that they are able to look up to or relate to, it may make the book easier to read and assignments easier to complete.

Some argue that the books students are reading are classic, well-known novels so they should be included in the curriculum. The books focus on major themes such as love, technology and coming of age. While this statement is true, many till do not represent diversity.

The authors of most classical literature that students read in class are dominated by white males. This makes the diversity of required reading books very limited. Teachers should work on adding a varied selection of novels to required reading lists in order to make students feel included in their own education.

 

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