|Image Source: http://nyti.ms/f7yHjW, 03/29/2011.
Bluford Series creator, Paul Langan, is passionate about writing relatable stories for urban youth, and the importance for librarians to support what urban youth read. His message:
"My goal is clear: to write stories urban youth enjoy and want to read. Period. I have bumped up against those who dismiss my work and the work of other writers trying to do what I do--as if BOOKS are more important than THE PEOPLE who read them.
I have seen the destruction and the hubris of those who worship at the altar of "high literature" and think of anything else as unworthy of the classroom. As a result, they deny students an experience with text that those students WANT TO HAVE. And considering many students have limited access to books for myriad reasons, this dismissal may forever discourage young readers from participating in the world of the written word. This is arrogant and harmful and unacceptable--and avoidable.
As educators we must listen to our students. They are the focus of our efforts--and far more important than the literary canon (which has its own historic and cultural biases that smarter minds than my own have documented).
If we want urban students to think reading is relevant, we must show readings that ARE relevant. And if we present youth with books that ignore or discount them, we shouldn't be surprised when youth discount and ignore books. Adults pick and choose the texts that speak to them. Why can't young adults do the same thing?
When scholars and librarians legitimize Street Lit as an art form and literary genre, you increase the likelihood that such books will be taken seriously. And, in turn, you increase the likelihood that students hungry for these books will get them and start reading, thinking, reflecting and perhaps writing their own.
There is much madness among policy makers in school today. Librarians are bearing thebrunt of it--and are endangered at a time they are most needed.
Paul Langan is currently the Young Adult Fiction Editor at Townsend Press, the publisher for the Bluford Series, as well as a host of education materials for K-12 and college.