|K.C. Boyd and me, June 2010, Wash., D.C.|
StreetLiteratureBlog: Please share with us how Street Lit contributes to the literacies of your students at the library where you are currently serving?
Many of my students live very adult lives. Some are parents, some provide some financial support for their households and many have ‘adult’ responsibilities such as raising younger siblings. When they have some downtime to read leisurely, I find that many reach for Street Lit books for young adults. Some of their favorite authors are Ni-Ni Simone, L. Dvine, Earl Sewell, Babygirl Daniels and Paul Langan. These books are constantly checked out and there is always a waiting list for them. As a result of this, their reading comprehension and vocabulary has improved and they are more open to trying different authors and genres.
I believe the biggest impact Street Lit has had on my students is that it meets their emotional needs and allows them to escape mentally. My students deal with events/situations in their personal lives that are stressful and they need a release. The stories are highly relatable and discuss issues that today’s tweens/teens can relate to. Timeless themes such as peer pressure, violence, pregnancy, divorce, drugs and sex are presented in a non-preaching manner. Through reading these stories, my students are encouraged to identify the struggle and the best solution for the story’s protagonist. In addition, the stories are also cautionary tales that emphasize right from wrong behavior/actions.
At first my students were really surprised that I read the same books they do. I really enjoy it when they make a point to stop by my circulation desk and share how they compare the story to their own lives and show empathy with the protagonists struggle. Moreover, just hearing how much they like the books and how they relate to some element/literary device to reading material presented in the classroom.
StreetLiteratureBlog: What do you most want fellow educators to understand and appreciate about the genre of Street Literature?
First, respect the genre and not dismiss it because you don’t understand it. Take the time and read some of the books within the genre, you’ll be quite surprised at some of compelling stories the genre has to offer. Second, these books can serve as a healthy platform for discussion/dialogue between tweens/teens and adults. Educators will see a different side of the student they are servicing in library or class when they discuss events that have taken place in the story. Finally, Street Lit is a genre which appeals to a group of library patrons that has historically been ignored by publishing houses. Street Literature is a wonderful genre that should not be dismissed nor censored by educators, but instead it should be embraced because it can make an indelible impact on the lives of tweens and teens.
-- Stay tuned for Part 3, coming Wednesday, February 23, 2011.