Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Appendix D?

Sue Bartle and I have been approached to find expert librarians to help out with a challenging but important task. As you all will know, the CC ELA standards came with various appendices and one was particularly influential: the infamous "B." While Appendix B was meant to be "exemplars" -- examples, models, of the kinds of books that could be useful in supporting the standards in various grade bands -- all too often it was taken as a buying list. This created a whole host of problems: large demands for out of print books when perfectly fine in-print alternatives were easily available (or already on the library shelves); a listed crafted in 2010 that was dated at birth and only more so as time went by; and, a mismatch between the "whiteness" of the authors and subjects and the range of students in schools and people in our nation. Those of you who have come to this blog for some time know that we Uncommon Corps folks have worked to develop a different way of evaluating books -- not by whether they are on a list, but through the rigorous Common Core Lens (Sue can comment here on how you sign in to learn more). But we also know that lists can be of some use, and thus were pleased to learn that the Southern Poverty Law Center through their Teaching Tolerance publication is working on an Appendix D -- B made more Diverse.

The challenge is that books on "D" serve many masters. D is designed to add authors, illustrators, and subjects that broaden and diversify recommended literature for (at first) K-5; but it is not just Multicultural Fave-Raves, it is also designed to match the CC ELA requirements. And so Sue and I -- and perhaps some of you -- have been asked to look at the titles through a grid designed to be a kind of mini-CommonCoreLens -- a one page evaluation tool to examine a book with CC eyes.

I can't be involved in this directly -- as an author and editor I have too much at stake -- but I like the idea of giving librarians, teachers, and parents a starter-kit, a place to begin in looking for CC-aligned diverse literature -- so long as no one takes it as gospel. These are, again, exemplars -- but, we hope, a better bunch.

More as I know more.

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