Is your son in grades K-5 a reluctant reader?  David Banks, leader of the Eagle Academy network of all-boy public schools, wants to help him learn to love reading.   Frustrated by the dismal national reading stats for African American and Hispanic boys (only 28%  African American and 34% Hispanic fourth grade boys are reading at or above proficiency level, and the numbers sink to 10% and 14% in low income families), Banks was determined to do something to try reverse this trend. He partnered with Scholastic Books to create the Rising Voices Library, a collection of books featuring positive, inspirational stories which he believes will have special appeal to young black and brown boys.

Drawing upon his years of teaching in and leading all boy public schools, Banks determined that boys of color would be more interested in reading if their schools offered more books in which they could see their lives and backgrounds reflected in positive ways.  He worked with Scholastic to identify 150 books (25 titles per grade level from K-5) which feature memorable characters in whom young men of color can see and better understand themselves.

Schools can buy a set of books for each grade.   Each set includes two copies of each title, along with a Teacher’s Guide, storage bin and book stickers.  The Rising Voices Library collection is currently only available for schools, so you should encourage  your school administrators to check out the site online and purchase these sets for their classrooms.

Unfortunately the site doesn’t currently list the individual titles, so at this point you can’t create any part of the official Rising Voices Library in your home. But you can use the site to find culturally relevant books from Scholastic to help build your own library, and here’s how: go to the Rising Voices Library site and hit “shop now”,  and then click on the “subject, genre, theme” drop down menu at the top of the page,  you will see “Diversity” as one of the themes.  Click on that and there are a host of books featuring black and brown characters for you to choose from.  It appears you can only access this through the teacher’s site.  Kinda convoluted, I know.  But it is a way to find titles you can buy for your son to read at home.  And think how happy you’ll be to see your reluctant reader enjoying books!