The Renaissance Learning company, which runs a reading test program called Accelerated Reader, has a list of the top 20 books high school students read, and it's not pretty for those of us who doubt the educational merits of the Twilight series. Jay Mathews at The Washington Post rightly bemoans the lack of nonfiction on the list. Nonfiction is important. Those high school students are about to become voting citizens, and the more they know about the real world, the better off we all are.
But there's another big deficit on the list: writers of color. That doesn't mean high school students are encountering no non-white writers, but they're not choosing books from them in significant enough numbers for even one to break into the top 20. There isn't enough to the list to find out why they're underrepresented, but it's all the more reason school reading lists can't just begin with Shakespeare and end with Steinbeck.
-- Monica Potts
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