Honoring a variety of identities and amplifying #OwnVoices in our class stories

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 had been steadily providing more and more mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors to all my students, my SL stories continued to primarily feature either cis straight body-abled neurotypical white characters or personified animals.

In 2018, 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 cis straight body-abled neurotypical white and 30% were personified animals. My Movie Talks were not that much better (41% and 36% respectively). TALK ABOUT BIAS.


I have been working make deep changes in my stories. Below is a list of stories that are either #OwnVoices or acclaimed by people belonging in the communities featured in the stories. If you have #OwnVoices stories to suggest, please leave them in a comment. I appreciate your input!


Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry

In a Heartbeat by Beth David and Esteban Bravo

The Easy Life by Jiaqi Xiong

Float (PIXAR short) by Bobby Rubio


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!! 

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