In the States they are updating the reading lists in schools to reflect the contemporary post-colonial (agh!) nature of the student body. (I hearby initiate a movement to always append “(agh!)” after every mention of the term “post-colonial” (agh!).)
Largely in response to their more ethnically diverse student bodies, high schools in the area are broadening their literature selections to include more contemporary writers, more women and more minorities.
Students say the books engage them more immediately than the classics yet still raise timeless questions about existence and meaning.
Teachers say the contemporary books appeal more to students who don’t like to read and need an introduction to the power and pleasures of literature.
Meanwhile, in the sunny UK, a library is being recognized for drawing the football hooligans of tomorrow into its dusty stacks today.
“Once we started talking to them we discovered they weren’t a bad bunch,” chips in Andrew McTaggart, a library officer at the sharp end of the project. “We even got one lad to write his own ‘acceptable behaviour’ contract – no bad swearing, that kind of thing – and it was remarkable how things changed.”
The result is a library reborn, with a range of new cultural and community facilities from a football literacy project, to a ‘computer crazies’ club, IT classes, arts and creative writing courses. Guest authors – including the Edinburgh-born Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh – have held workshops.
To encourage participation, a youth literacy worker, has worked with library staff and a group of young people to select books and CDs for the library.
Canada, what have you done for us lately?