A group of students and faculty at a Northwest Washington elementary school are advocating for the accessibility to literature that features African American characters through the creation of a book club, the Washington Post reported.
Fifth-graders at the Truesdell Education Campus and a teacher started a book club last December after a Black student shared that he struggled with reading because he didn’t see himself reflected in the characters of the books that he was given, the news outlet writes.
Mary Ann Stinson, the school’s principal, provided the child with a book penned by Walter Dean Myers titled Bad Boy: A Memoir. The assistant principal, Michael Redmond, encouraged two other children to read the book as well and the book club was later formed. Redmond, who studied the barriers that young Black boys face when it comes to educational advancement, wants to use this book club as an avenue to change the narrative surrounding African American children and literacy.
According to the Washington Post, in the District Black boys perform the lowest on standardized tests and Redmond wants to turn that statistic around and shatter stereotypes surrounding Black students. “What a beautiful thing, for teachers to be able to see boys who look like this be so into reading,” Redmond told the news outlet. “We did not imagine that kids would be this serious about reading and about doing something that we didn’t ask them to do.” The faculty believes that this book club will help increase the reading level amongst the students.
Although the book club was created only two months ago, its had a major impact on its participants. “In our classes, there are way less interesting books, and these books are way more interesting,” said one of the participants. “These books are about people.”
Several Black children have been working to change the negative perception surrounding African American youth and literacy. Last year, Sidney Keys III an 11-year-old from St. Louis, launched a book club called Books N Bros that makes African-American literature accessible to youngsters.