“The light came through the evening mist
And alas, the path was clear
To a new horizon, a beginning new
The truth, perhaps, to be shone
And there in the darkness, lies the beacon of light
For through her, shall the future lie”
So what now? Where do we go from here? How do we make this matter?
It’s a huge question, and I think the best way to navigate it is to dream big but start small.
A speaker named Ann Morgan did this when she decided to diversify her knowledge of the world by reading one text from every country. This is a huge feat, but she started small and had a plan.
Her work inspires me, so here’s my plan to dream big and start small:
1.Identify a problem or issue that means something to you
Ann did this when she realized how little diversity there was on her bookshelf. She wanted to change it. So she came up with her plan.
2. Find an audience or a purpose…something to help you hone in on your work
In a way, she was her own audience. She wanted to broaden her own knowledge and take herself farther out of her comfort zone and deeper into the stories of others. But she created a blog to take others on her journey with her. Because she knew this was a valuable journey that should also stretch beyond herself.
3. Find a place to start, a place that’s workable
She did something accessible– she began to research. She worked bit by bit on things she could personally access and set the foundation for herself.
4. Ask for help
Ann asked. She sought help wherever she could find it– online, friends, friends of friends, experts in the literary field, people of the cultures she wanted to examine. And she surly found help.
5. Be open-minded
Going into her project, Ann obviously had expectations. But she was gracious and had an open mind that allowed her expectations to be blown away and far surpassed. It’s what made the experience so rewarding and so successful.
I have already discussed how little diversity there is in the classroom– how texts for young readers do not reflect diverse narratives that people of this great world live. And for this reason, I have found my “problem that means something to you”
If there needs to be more diverse literature out there, especially for young readers, then why not construct it myself? In fact, I have already started this project, but it has been spurred by Ann’s inspiring journey.
My task, my small step that will lead to bigger dreams, is to create a multicultural biographical compilation of the lives of women throughout history for young children. There is so little written in historical terms for young kids besides instructional texts. It’s time kids were introduced to history through stories– through the experiences of others. And specifically for young girls, so they can see the women they could one day become.
They need to know about Wilma Rudloph, the African American Olympian
They need to know about Nefertiti, one of the greatest Egyptian Pharaohs in history
They need to know about Ching Shih, a Chinese pirate who fearlessly sailed the seas
They need to know about Marlee Matlin, the only deaf actress to win an Academy Award
These stories must be told, and they must be told in a way that will be accessible to young girls who need to hear them. To young boys who need to hear them.
So the step I’m in now is to research and find the stories of forgotten women who should be remembered. I need to find out about their lives and bring them to life on the page. After that, I’ll need help. Whether it be to expand on those narratives, to fine tune them, to get them possibly published. I’ll need to seek for others to help me make my work a reality that extends beyond my computer screen. And through it all, I must have an open mind. This project may turn into something completely different than what it is now, but I need to allow it the power to do so. With open-mindedness and open expectation, powerful things can emerge.
And though this may just be one step, one step has often been known to be all it takes. Hopefully, through this project, I will continue the conversation I have participated in with this blog. And maybe I’ll end up changing a life or two besides my own.