Reading Is Passion by Nimeley and Mrs. Bryan
Creating a space where students can wonder, create, and explore their passions in the classroom is something that Mrs. Rodriguez does on a daily basis for students. Instituting Genius Hour in her classroom is just one of the ways she amplifies student voice through curiosity and choice. One young learner, Nimeley, in her class is using his driving question to impact not only his reading life but the reading lives of students and staff. He has people talking about books in ways they haven’t before, he’s raising the consciousness of readers to think about the impact diverse book characters have on student identity, and he’s tackling some of life’s biggest questions at the age of ten. The rest of this post is his first publication. From our community to yours, happy reading.
Hello, My name is Nimeley. I am a 4th grader. I like to read fantasy and nonfiction books.
I started my Genius Hour project from scratch. At home I was thinking about making a book where a black main character is just in modern times doing everyday things. I wanted to make a book about everyday things because I was reading an Adventure Time book where the reader goes inside of the book. On one page there is an illustration of the “reader’s hands” on the page. I got to take on being the main character, except that in the book my hand was white instead of black. That made me wonder, “why are the hands white?” What I learned in my Dreams group about race inspired me to research this question for my Genius Hour project about books.
At school, Mrs. Rodriguez helped me think about the resources I would need to do my project on black main characters in children’s books. I interviewed teachers and created a survey about diversity in kid’s books using Google Forms that was sent to all the teachers in my school. I’m making another survey for the students in my school so that I can compare and contrast the answers of teachers and students. I also used the Lee & Low: Diversity in Publishing Survey to help me understand the problem in publishing. Here are some of the responses from my survey so far. There are 23 adults that have answered my survey.
My goal for this project is to try to get more people into the idea that books are important for more than just reading. Children do what they see in front of them and if they don’t see themselves in books how will they do what they see? I want to make people aware that it is still a problem.
This project is important because most of the books that are in the library with a black main character are mostly civil rights books about the freedom march. Those books are good but it’s harder to find a book about a kid going to school like Diary of a Wimpy Kid with racially diverse characters. I want to help people be able to find more books like that.
My dream is to have a lot more books with racially diverse characters and to have people at my school and in the world be aware that it’s a problem that all kids can’t see themselves in the books they pick up. I also want to create my own books with diverse characters for school and public libraries and also for book stores. I want to make books that are different, where all kids are doing everyday things. I want to make books where everyone of all colors can see themselves.
Nimeley is a 4th grade student in Minnesota. He likes books and video games. He likes to play on his computer and think about taking over the world.
Mrs. Rodriguez is a 4th grade teacher in Minnesota. She loves to read about science and inspire kids to wonder. You can follow her class on Twitter at @MrsRandCo
Jill Bryan is a book lover in Minnesota. Her day job takes her into classrooms as a K-5 Instructional Coach where she works to pass on the love of reading. She can be found on Twitter at @jbryanreads