This post was co-written by Allie Caton and Claire Nataro, Spring 2018 marketing interns at FableVision Studios.
There is nothing quite like the feeling of finding a book that truly resonates with you. A book where you feel as though you are right there, experiencing the action alongside your favorite characters. For Allie, that story was Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin—a story about alien planets and otherworldly races that felt more real than any of the human stories she had read in school. For Claire, it was Brooklyn by Colm Toibin, a deeply personal read that closely paralleled her own grandmother’s immigrant experience.
When we found these books, we realized that an expansive world of stories had gone ignored in our English classes with reading lists chock full of classics, including names like Dickens and Fitzgerald. Now college students, we look back on the reading lists we endlessly trudged through and realize it wasn’t us, it was the list!
Read Outside the Margins was inspired by these personal experiences reading normative stories in school. Between homework and after-school activities, the books assigned in class are often the only stories that students are reading, and schools have long relied on “high literature” to expose students to a variety of stories. But no matter how different the plots of these literary classics might be, most of their characters and worlds reflect the same normative themes of the western canon.
When students can’t relate to any of the stories they are assigned, reading stops at the classroom. Incorporating reading that showcases a variety of thoughtfully written identities will help students of all races, sexualities, and genders connect with their readings as well as help cultivate empathy and respect in all students for each other’s differences.
Read Outside the Margins takes these tropes and flips them on their head. The series will highlight hand-picked stories that students can connect with and actually want to read!
Each post in the Read Outside the Margins series will feature books spanning all reading levels and age groups. Claire’s picks will be focused on books for kids in preschool through elementary school, and Allie’s picks will feature books for middle and high schoolers. We’ll give you a brief description of the book, why we chose it, and how it can be useful in the classroom! If you’re short on time, take the interactive quiz at the top of each post with your student to find your book match, and skip straight to the description of your perfectly paired book.
Follow along with us over the next month, and tweet your own picks to us at #ReadOutsideTheMargins!