Friday, May 14, 2021

Fall reading selection: The World Doesn't Require You

This coming fall semester, 125 African American students who participate in the Haley Scholars reading group will read short stories from The World Doesn't Require You (2019) by Rion Amilcar Scott. I'll spend the summer figuring out which six or seven stories we'll cover. 

Some years back, poet  Bro Yao mentioned Scott's work to me and others, and I took note. At the time, I initially thought I might have students here cover Scott's first collection Insurrections (2016), but I ultimately decided to go with his more recent book for now. 

This past semester, our reading group covered and responded to questions about Nafissa Thompson-Spires short story collection, Heads of the Colored People (2018). The previous semester, we broke into three groups with one covering Lauren Wilkinson's American Spy (2019),  another covering Batman and the Outsiders (2020) written by Bryan Hill, and another covering Black Panther Vol. 1 (2016) written by Ta-Nehisi Coates. 

A snapshot of the books in office
Reading groups or common read programs often focus on nonfiction titles, memoirs, and fiction. Short story collections are less often chosen. I've found, however, that books of essays or stories are useful when working with students who have limited time and don't want to get left too far behind on an extended narrative. 

The Haley reading group, which I've coordinated since 2009, has always taken place online. I decided to assign Scott's book to one of my literature courses as well, so now I'll get a chance to consider The World Doesn't Require You for in-person discussion.

Our request for about 150 books were not mailed at once. Instead, boxes with various numbers of the books were mailed over the course of a few weeks. I stopped by the office recently and saw that almost all of the books had arrived. 

Seeing the stacks of The World Doesn't Require You has me  already looking forward to the reading and response activities that we'll do this fall.

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