When I started using Story Listening (SL) on a regular basis to provide rich language in context to my Novice learners, I heavily relied on Grimm tales, Aesop fables, and children stories with personified animal characters. And so, while the rest of my curriculum has been steadily providing more and more mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors to all my students, my SL stories have continued to primarily feature either cis straight body-abled neurotypical white characters or personified animals.
In fact, as of two years ago, my SL stories were even worse than the percentage of books depicting characters from diverse backgrounds (see below): 64% of the characters in my SL stories were white and 30% were personified animals. Talk about bias.
So, this year, I have decided to tackle this aspect of my curriculum. My professional goal is for 60% of the stories I tell via Story Listening to thoughtfully represent identities different from my own. I am acutely aware that I run the risk of tokenizing or misrepresenting these identities, so I am looking for primarily #ownvoices stories I can adapt to SL. By adapting I mean adapting the language so it is comprehensible to my Novice learners. I am so glad I have We Need Diverse Books and Diversify Your Bookshelf as sources for such literature.
Below, you will find story titles, a read-aloud video so you get an idea of the story, the author/illustrator website, and a video of each story live from my classroom, using Story Listening supplementation. I will update the post as I go, so make sure to bookmark it.
It does takes a bit of work to mine stories that can be adapted to Story Listening for my Novice learners: simple plot, natural repetition, high interest, and age appropriate. So, if you have #ownvoices stories to suggest, please leave them in a comment. I appreciate your input!
Fun fact: when I emailed Jessica Love, the author of Julián is a Mermaid to ask her permission to publish my recording of her story, she said: “Thank you for considering my work— my grandmother (to whom the book is dedicated) was a French teacher, and I know this would have made her very happy. ” THIS MADE MY DAY!!