Our classrooms are becoming more diverse, but some experts are concerned that reading materials at school are not.
For instance, aside from Dora the Explorer, there are very few characters in books or other media in which young Latino students can see themselves, according to a recent article.
When was the last time you felt you could deeply connect to a book — or a movie, a song, a newspaper article or any other media — because it portrayed something important about your life and who you are?
In “For Young Latino Readers, an Image Is Missing,” Motoko Rich writes:
Like many of his third-grade classmates, Mario Cortez-Pacheco likes reading the “Magic Tree House” series, about a brother and a sister who take adventurous trips back in time. He also loves the popular “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” graphic novels.
But Mario, 8, has noticed something about these and many of the other books he encounters in his classroom at Bayard Taylor Elementary here: most of the main characters are white. “I see a lot of people that don’t have a lot of color,” he said.
Hispanic students now make up nearly a quarter of the nation’s public school enrollment, according to an analysis of census data by the Pew Hispanic Center, and are the fastest-growing segment of the school population. Yet nonwhite Latino children seldom see themselves in books written for young readers. (Dora the Explorer, who began as a cartoon character, is an outlier.)
Education experts and teachers who work with large Latino populations say that the lack of familiar images could be an obstacle as young readers work to build stamina and deepen their understanding of story elements like character motivation.
… “Kids do have a different kind of connection when they see a character that looks like them or they experience a plot or a theme that relates to something they’ve experienced in their lives,” said Jane Fleming, an assistant professor at the Erikson Institute, a graduate school in early childhood development in Chicago.
… The Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education, which compiles statistics about the race of authors and characters in children’s books published each year, found that in 2011, just over 3 percent of the 3,400 books reviewed were written by or about Latinos, a proportion that has not changed much in a decade.
Students: Tell us …
- Have you ever read a story, watched a movie, listened to a song or read an article or essay and thought, “This is just like my life”? What?
- Ever met a character that shares your personality, background or life experiences? Who?
- Do you feel more connected when you read about something or someone you can relate to, or do you prefer to read about lives different from your own?
- Should students have more access to books whose diverse characters reflect a range of lives? What books would you recommend?
- How diverse have the reading choices been at the schools you’ve attended?
Questions about issues in the news for students 13 and older.
Compare and Contrast: Movies vs. Books
When you ask people whether they prefer 'Movies or Books', you are likely to get a variety of replies. Some people will prefer reading books and other will prefer watching movies. There is another interesting phenomena and that is a section of the population that enjoy both equally.
For some people, reading a book is not the easiest activity in the world. We have all sometimes picked up a book and put it down after battling to read the first page. This is nothing to do with ability or concentration, it is to do with whether or not the book is of personal interest or whether the book actually meets our needs. In other words what is inside the covers of the book may not match the blurb on the outside which is very misleading and very disappointing. The same can be said for movies. How often have we all watched the trailers advertised on TV, thinking that the movie looks really interesting? Then follows the anticipation of going to the movies to watch it, or wait until its available to download and rent at home, only to watch the first ten minutes and realise that it is not going to get any better than 'boring'!
Sometimes it is easier to watch a movie rather than read the book. Some movies that are adaptations of books can enhance the setting, the scenery and dialogue. This is especially helpful for people who have experienced difficulty in learning to read, as watching the movie as well as reading the book can enhance the experience. A movie adaptation can enhance the experience of the book and can bring to life, and get transported into 'this other world'. Visual images are very powerful, but so is the experience of reading and development of our own images. It can also be argued that in order to use our imagination whilst reading we need to have some actual experience of the situation and that experience either comes through accurate and informative writing or visual images (movies).
There are several books that have been made into movies. The interpretation of a book into a movie is bound by resources and finance, and the visualisation of the director. Meanwhile reading the book, taps into the readers imagination, that does not have the same constraints and can be picked and put down at any convenient time.