Stories that represent and celebrate all identities

DOUGLAS SATO | Arts, Activism and Social Justice Summer School | USA | Global | Bristol, Connecticut, USA

Stories that represent and celebrate all identities
  1. My big vision for my changemaker project is to ensure that students have access to stories that represent and celebrate all identities. Literature is a powerful medium to expose students to our diverse world. I am an aspiring educator passionate about providing students with books they can relate to. If students feel stronger connections with the books they interact with, then, hopefully, a love of reading will flourish. We must have books students want to read and engage with to help with learning and literacy.
  2. My project's goal is to have adolescents and adults share experiences of when they felt affirmed or represented in a story they have read. I hope to have anecdotes shared from all across the globe. I believe the more anecdotes shared about the power behind stories, the greater the argument to prevent booking banning becomes. I want to ensure that books with themes on race, gender, and sexuality are in curricula. Students need to access stories with characters from all types of communities.
  3. The actions I envision taking for my project include launching a social media campaign and developing grassroots efforts to lobby decision-makers. My social media campaign will be branded with the hashtag "#IFeltSeen." I hope as anecdotes are shared about the power of feeling represented within a story, opponents will reflect more on the implications of banning books. In addition to a social media campaign, I would like to connect with the organization Unite Against Book Bans to develop a local grassroots movement. I plan to lobby politicians and school board members on the importance of having diverse books within school curricula. Decision-makers should be pressured to read the texts and seek opinions from education professionals before tailoring policy and restricting access. I also hope the movement can raise funds to purchase copies of books challenged. These copies can be gifted to students who cannot access such books at schools or libraries.
  4. With movements towards change, opposition always follows. A common argument supporting book banning is that caregivers have the right to decide what media they expose their children to. This argument has merit; however, I believe one caregiver’s dislike of a book used in school should not affect the entire student body. If a caregiver wants to restrict their child's access to a text, alternative learning activities can be developed, however, I believe access should not be limited for the rest of the class.
  5. My project is grounded in the reasoning that students need exposure to real-world topics. Students must be introduced to nuanced opinions and diverse experiences of others sometime in their lives. Diverse stories can showcase a wide range of identities and can make experiences accessible. Educators are trained in the psychosocial development of children. Their judgments should be trusted by the general public. The decisions of what texts are appropriate for classrooms should be made by educators.
Bridging Histories butterfly