About a year ago, a friend gave me the book Heroes in Black History by Dave & Neta Jackson. I decided at dinner one evening, I would ask my children if they knew of some of the Heroes. To my surprise, they only knew four of the thirteen African Americans listed.
My heart sank and I realized that my children were missing a crucial piece to their education. Of course, I was teaching them the basics, math, reading, writing, science and history, but I failed to teach them about themselves. My children were unable to see the “me” in learning.
Why it Matters?
In November 2015, then sixth grader, Marley Dias launched 1,000 Black Girl Books after complaining to her mother that her mandatory reading was about white boys and dogs. She felt that none of the books she read represented her. Marley realized there was a lack of material that was integrated into her education which depicted Black female protagonist. She realized that she could not “see herself.”
Look around your home and at your learning materials. When you survey the books, worksheets, and games for your children, do the characters or culture in those materials resemble your children or their heritage?
If the answer is, “no,” then it is time to take a step back, reassess, and make some changes. Imagine the main character of your child’s required reading looks like them. Children who can “see themselves” in their learning material develop a higher level of self-esteem and self-image.
They can relate to the characters and can envision themselves as the character. Imagine the confidence a child feels when they see themselves as the hero or heroine of a story. Integrating culturally appropriate materials and images into a child’s daily learning will positively impact their academic skill set.
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