We are continuing our Big Read 2020 Wrap-up series: a compilation of blog posts written by various community members about some things they learned (and are still thinking about) from our recent Big Read events.

In this post, Abby Hamilton, English Educcation major, reflects on what she learned attending Books as Windows and Mirrors: The Importance of Reading Diverse Books. You can view this event on our Youtube channel here.

Abby writes,

One thing I learned from this event was how important book recommendations are to students and to other teachers in general. Recommending books involves knowing your students, and when you as the teacher are able to pick a book that would fit their interests, they are more likely to read it and enjoy reading it!

Another thing that I learned was about the theme of water in many children’s books, especially in the two books chosen for the Big Read/Little Read this year and in many other diverse books as highlighted by the presentation.

Lastly, I learned that “Own Voices Authors” means that the author telling the story belongs to the affinity group they are writing about. 

One idea that I’m walking away with is the importance of recommending books to my students on an ongoing basis. I want to have silent-reading time in my classroom, and I think that my students will develop a more personal relationship with reading if they are encouraged to read books I recommend or their peers recommend!

Secondly, I want to encourage my students (even though I hope to be teaching at the secondary level) to look at children’s literature as examples of windows/mirrors into diverse experiences. This could be connected to an in-class discussion of the importance of literature or why we still read Shakespeare and Homer in the 21st century.

Lastly, I really liked the audience participation by asking questions in the chat! Especially for this new virtual academic world, we are living in, students should be encouraged to ask questions or comment on course material in the chat to stay engaged with the lesson and the material covered in class.

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