Diversify Your HS ELA Reading List With These Poems by Writers of Color

Adding diverse voices in a classroom enriches learning for students. Here are five poems by writers of color that you can add to your students’ reading list.

By iThrive Games
February 16, 2021

Teachers—are you looking for additional ways to highlight voices from all communities? We are too and recently found an opportunity to do so in our English Language Arts unit iThrive Curriculum: Museum of Me. This game-based and social and emotional learning unit invites students to explore the story of the family at the center of the video game What Remains of Edith Finch. In one lesson, as students uncover the choices that were made in Edith's family, they are invited into a reflection on their own choices, through the lens of poetry. In revising the unit to include a diversity of voices, we found that we could highlight the work of these poets of color. 

Here are five poets that can enrich your classroom:

  • Ha Jin, author of A Center. This poem is part of a larger collection of poems, A Distant Center, which includes meditations on the meaning of home. 
  • Nikki Giovanni, author of Legacies. This poem provides an opportunity to discuss unspoken meanings and the choices we make in communicating with family members. 
  • Joy Harjo, author of A Map to the Next World. This poem explores the choices that connect us with one another and with nature and those that don't. 
  • Maya Angelou, author of Caged Bird. This poem explores privilege and oppression and the choices one makes within both. 
  • Rita Dove, author of Dawn Revisited. This poem invites students to reflect on the choices that are presented with the dawning of a new day.  

When students from all cultures can see themselves in the books, poems, and games that are brought into the classroom, we are one step closer to creating equitable classrooms, enriched by the diversity of all of our vast experiences.