Reading list rewrite

By Aimee Volk
June 2021
“I understand diverse books are important. But where do the classics fit into all of this?” asked a participant in a recent professional learning session I attended about making curriculum more culturally relevant. The presenter, literacy expert Donalyn Miller, responded, “Classics to whom? Who decides something is a classic?” Fireworks began going off in my brain. Miller’s question prompted me, a district curriculum coordinator supporting English teachers, to wonder: What is the purpose for requiring all students to read a specific text? Do the same texts need to be read in every classroom to ensure equity for all learners in a particular grade level or course? When does this help and when does it hinder equity? Those are the kinds of questions my district, West

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Bishop, R.S. (1990). Mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Perspectives, 1(3), ix–xi.

Boyko, T., Briggs, P., Cobb, M., Dragoo, H., Ferreira, L., & Sanders, J. (2016). AVID culturally relevant teaching: A schoolwide approach. AVID Press.

Coyle, D. (2018). The culture code. Bantam Books.

Marzano, R.J. (2003). What works in schools: Translating research into action. ASCD.

Muhammad, G. (2020). Cultivating genius: An equity framework for culturally and historically responsive literacy. Scholastic.

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Aimee Volk ( is district-level curriculum coordinator in West Fargo, North Dakota.

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