Issues of Interest in Our Classroom Library

As I examined my classroom library a few months ago I saw that historical fiction and non-fiction were not popular. Maybe, I thought, there are just not enough high interest books there. Maybe my students are having trouble finding what they are interested in among the less popular books. I decided to weed out those sections and make it easier to find the really compelling titles. As I began pulling books though, I realized how many titles actually dealt with the history of issues I know my students care about now. So I did a book talk that went something like this:

"I know a lot of you are really interested in some of the issues that have been in the news recently. I know some of you are worried about changes in our national immigration policy. I know many of you care deeply about LGBT rights. You all know about the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and if you've seen the news lately you know hate crimes are increasing, and Jewish Community centers are receiving bomb threats. I know you are worried and I know you are paying attention. What I'm concerned about though, is that even though you know about whats happening now, you don't know much of the history about these issues."

Then I profiled some of the books I had on hand that related directly to the history and experience of each of those issues. When I was done several students asked for specific titles and I put the rest in a basket called "Issues of Interest."

I know some will say a basket is not enough, and you are right, but I didn't want to overwhelm my students. I have multiple copies of many of these titles, so I have no trouble keeping the basket stocked. And, there is something to be said for scarcity driving a sense of urgency. Also, the basket fits perfectly in a high traffic spot, so this works for me at the moment. Many of my students who care the most about current issues are reading more about the history of those issues. I just needed to show them that the things they are passionate about now have a history they could know more about.