I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019


#WeNeedDiverseBooks is a movement that's been going on since 2014.

I've always thought of this from a children's book point of view, and I started looking through my myriad classroom books. I tossed some, gave away some, bought some, and since I've noticed that I do need more diverse books, I've been READING a ton more - so I can share them with my students.

Then my viewpoint shifted this past week when I engaged in a direct message conversation with a teacher I respect about how many of the educator books out there are written by white authors.

This tweet from a different educator I respect - Mike Mohammad - struck a chord with me...

Although I have written one of those, and read six of them, I noticed that a couple of these above are not written by white authors, and that is a good sign. I do believe, however, when we look at the newest educational books that are being published recently, most are written by white men, with white women starting to chime in, as well. Are BIPOC (Black people, Indigenous people and People of Color) not represented enough? (Are they not represented enough in our schools, as well?) I believe they are not. I believe we need more. Since I have not yet read all of them, I don't know if this is true, but are most of these rooted in what we (as authors of these books) know from experience? I know that Jennifer Casa Todd's had references to research, but do any of the others? Mine has links and names of people where I've learned certain things, yet I'm not sure if any of them (except in the homework and grading chapters) are researchers. So I responded to his tweet in a different way...

Are you the next author of a book that will inspire educators to have the courage to address racial inequalities in our lives? Are you the next person future teachers will look up to because you wrote of what needs to be said and done in this newest time of turmoil? Are you the next one to publish a book with research to back it? If not you, who do you think it could be? Please share this post with them.

The author of the blog challenge I'm in asks this question this week - 
I write lots of posts and keep them in "drafts." When I'm finally ready to share my feelings or thoughts, I go back to the post and click "publish." This post was in my drafts for a bit, then I saw the question today for the #8weeksofsummer blogging challenge. Yes. It's not only my goal for this summer, but it has been for a year now, since reading Being the Change by Sara K. Ahmed. 
  • Read more books by authors who are not white. 
  • Share more writing in class by authors who are not white. 
  • Talk about it in class - the races of the authors we read - so students know that they're out there, and we need more of them in our classrooms. 
  • Let our students know that THEY can be the ones to write the next book or poem or narrative - and publish it so others hear their stories.

Some (white) people will overlook this post and not share it with the world. I used to understand that; I kind of still do. I am learning that my silence means I'm okay with it. I'm not okay with ALL voices not being heard equally. I try to make sure this happens in my classroom, and I am now trying to make sure this happens in my life outside the classroom. My BHAG? For summer? Nope. For life? Yes. 
Spread kindness. Stand up for equality. Get kids reading. Get kids thinking. 
They're all linked together.

Note: This post does NOT mean that if you ARE white, you should not write. Nonononono. In fact, if you are a teacher and teach writing, you should be writing. We can all be awesome role models for our students through reading and writing - ALL KINDS of books and articles and blog posts. I'm sorry if this post reads otherwise. That was not my intent.


  1. Wow, Joy! Super post and BHAG for life. I love the disclaimer at the end. Nononononono is right. In fact, when we write with our students, it helps us respect their writing more.

    Thank you, friend,

  2. Joy,
    I loved your response in the video and the post. I am not OK with what is happening in our country. Having taught for my career with Native Americans, I know the gifts they bring, and we cannot be silent about discrimination and white supremacy. I’m glad you’re still teaching and part of “the change.” I look forward to reading more about your discoveries and experiences. Go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness! ~ Sheri