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KPS Diversifies Classroom Books

William Edgerton

The Kalamazoo Public Schools are bringing more diversity to the books in the district’s classrooms. They feature a more diverse range of characters.

Kalamazoo School Superintendent Michael Rice says the project involves 50 second-grade and 50 third-grade classrooms in the district. Rice says he hopes it will encourage children of color to read.

“(We) Recognize the importance of children actually being able not only to read about others, but to read about people who look like themselves.”

Rice says that will help them imagine more possibilities for themselves in the future.(P) “We want our children to see is a wide range of possibilities, a wide range of images, positive images within the literature that they read.”

Rice also says putting books that are more diverse into the hands of students will make them better readers.

“Not only do we want it to spur more reading, a greater quantity of reading, but also a greater quality of reading.”

Rice says KPS will have new books placed in about 300 elementary classrooms around the district by the end of 2019.

The Cooperative Children's Book Center at the University of Wisconson-Madison says a lack of diversity in classroom books is a nationwide problem. It says with current books, kids are more likely to animals or inanimate objects like trucks as the focus of stories rather than human beings who look like themselves.

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