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Right on!

Posted By: Edward Joyner on January 6, 2011
As a former classroom teacher, principal, college professor and administrator, father, and mentor, I salute the author for her cogent insights regarding independent reading. Almost all of the transformative stories about poor and disadvantaged children point to an interest in reading that began with content that was limited by the background of the emerging reader and evolved as the individual developed a more sophisticated appetite for wisdom and insight. Malcolm X and the late Carl Upchurch are examples of people finding freedom in jail through reading. Many of them started with material related to their limited backgrounds and moved well beyond that. Upchurch started reading "street literature" but was transformed by Shakespeare's sonnets. Many of the minority students that I taught and mentored followed the same path.
Finally, she makes a great point about the intended audience for many of the classics in our current canon noting that they were written for adults. Familiarity with Anne Cunningham and Eugene Stanovich's work on reading offers solid evidence for more independent reading in books of choice for students, especially poor children with limited reading content in the home. As a poor, Black male growing up in the South, I found solace and improved my mind through books of choice. Reading To Kill a Mockingbird and Killers of the Dream shaped my worldview and continues to influence how I view racism and gender discrimination.
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 Right on! by Edward Joyner on January 6, 2011
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