Browsing Bias

DCSD should adopt more diverse and contemporary books


Classrooms heavily favor old, white male authors who’ve been in the literary canon for decades. Why not give something new a try?

     Teachers, parents and librarians are continually working to get more and more books approved to be in our library. The process to have a book approved takes time and effort, involving multiple steps and forms. However, constantly adding new books to the approved books list is an important way to keep our libraries diverse and timely. 

     As an English student, I’ve gotten tired of reading the same canonized texts by straight, white and not to mention dead men each year. It’s frustrating seeing issues of racism being whitewashed in To Kill a Mockingbird, or being given the same copy of Beloved by Toni Morrison to read as the designated text by a Black female author. It was awkward seeing my classmates debate possible gay relationships between characters in A Separate Peace but still have no legitimate texts delving into sexuality or gender identity taught in classes. And class after class, book after book, the same overdramatic white male protagonist is analyzed by me and others who could not relate less to his identity. 

     Classrooms and libraries need to take the next step in breaking the recycling of the same literary themes each year. Instead of having everyone grapple with the vague and frankly irrelevant theme of “loss of the American dream” in The Great Gatsby, why not drop the false pretenses of literary merit and cut to the chase with real ideas, modern issues and relatable characters? Instead of Holden Caulfield’s exhaustive male ego, why not Esther Greenwood’s quirky depression in The Bell Jar? Instead of the major pitfalls of white saviorism in To Kill a Mockingbird, why not the straightforward analysis of prejudice and police brutality in The Hate U Give?

     Getting more modern, diverse texts into the library and the classroom would spark something amazing for all the generations of students to come. Here are a few of my personal recommendations for texts that aren’t currently on the approved book list by DCSD (as of 2021): 

  • Giovanni’s Room – James Baldwin
  • Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi
  • The Sympathizer – Viet Thanh Nguyen
  • Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
  • The Round House – Louise Erdrich
  • The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
  • The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Saenz
  • A Tale for the Time Being – Ruth Ozeki
  • A Woman is no Man – Etaf Rum
  • An American Marriage – Tayari Jones
  • Pachinko – Min Jin Lee
  • The Girl with the Louding Voice – Abe Dare
  • Dominicana – Angie Cruz
  • Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Mexican Gothic – Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • Such a Fun Age – Kiley Reid
  • The Death of Vivek Oji – Akwaeke Emezi