The Inclusive Classroom Library Project

Inclusive Classroom Library

It’s time that all classrooms build an inclusive library!

As of September 2022, grade nine education in Ontario will be de-streamed. Ontario is the only province in Canada to divide students into different pathways in grade nine. The unfortunate consequence of this practice is that it puts black, indigenous, low-income, and students with special needs at a greater risk of not graduating.

I don’t know if de-streaming helps to solve the inequity issue or not. I’m not here to debate that. I’m open to the possibility that it might help. And since I will be teaching many sections of grade nine English next year, I will do everything I can to make my classroom fair and equitable for all students. 

Regardless, the point of this article is to talk about our upcoming book clubs next year. At our school, we are choosing books that  represent the diversity around us, balancing the classic books that we typically read in our grade nine academic English classroom: Romeo and Juliet and To Kill a Mockingbird. Our goal is to create inclusive classroom libraries. 

So, what does that look like?

I’m not saying that I necessarily agree with the board’s approach on this, but they have broken down our choices into four categories. The categories are People of Color, LGBTQ+, People Living with Disabilities, and Indigenous Voices.

This summer, I’ve read over  fifteen books to help choose with which ones we’ll pick. I’ve decided to provide you with my thoughts on each book. These “reviews” will give a little plot summary, readers who might connect with the text, the advantages of using the text, and some potential pitfalls. I want to stress that these reviews aren’t criticisms of the books or the authors, just a statement of how well the books fit in with our vision of the grade nine classrooms at our school.

As I read through the books, I found a few were inappropriate. I have taken those books off the list because they couldn’t be included in a grade nine class. In those cases, the problem was usually too much sexual content.

If you have any suggestions or would like to point anything out to me along the way, please don’t hesitate to email me or provide your thoughts in the comment section. Our goal here is to make a great experience for all our grade nine learners.

I will update this page with links to each review as I go along.

People of Color
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philipe
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

LGBTQ+
We Do What We Do in the Dark: A Novel by Michelle Hart
Dead Collections by Isaac Fellman
Boy Queen by George Lester
Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

Indigenous Voices
Kiss of the Fur Queen by Thomson Highway
Sufferance by Thomas King
Motorcycles and Sweetgrass by Drew Hayden Taylor
Strangers by David Robertson

Living With Disability
The Frangipani Tree Mystery by Ovidia Yu
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

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Dylan Callens

About the Author...

Dylan Callens is a writer and educator living in Sudbury, Ontario. 

His debut novel, Operation Cosmic Teapot, was a resounding success. Since then, Dylan has written a number of other books, including his most recent novel, And the Cow Jumped Over the Blue Moon