The question sometimes comes up of why the Hurston & Hughes Literary Circle is focused “just” on black teens.
We found it an interesting question.
The simple answer is that there are not a not of quality multicultural books for middle and young adult readers that challenge them to think broadly without being presented with stereotyped or ghettoized stories of black life in America.
We set out to provide a culturally relevant and comfortable atmosphere for them to explore what it means to them to be young black scholars in mostly suburban schools in the St. Louis metro area. Our initial participants were all high achieving students who enjoyed reading in a school system that essentially ignored their presence.
The need for summer reading is important for all students, that is definite and supported by all the library programs that encourage students to keep turning the pages of real books.
Most area middle and high schools have reading requirements and lists provided for students to choose. Our high school didn’t offer any black books for the 7th grade choice or the 9th grade Honor’s English. We wanted to provide an opportunity for students to read required text as well as engage with authors who look like them.
Hurston & Hughes was born in the summer of 2013 and has consistently remained a small, tightly focused reading circle centered on black teens and their literary experience.
The why is very simple, because the need existed.
Friends and supporters are encouraged to read some of the works that are on the schedule and are appreciated for their support of “we need more diverse books” to actively include American black students in area middle and high schools.