It is important to find ways to incorporate non-canon authors into your curriculum.
Canon authors and books are canon for a reason – these authors and their works have an ability to tap into the human experience in a manner that speaks across space and time.
And while Shakespeare, To Kill a Mockingbird and “The Lottery” are stories that have a firm place in the curriculum, they don’t have a monopoly on good literature.
Finding ways to incorporate non-canon authors in your curriculum will diversify and enrich your curriculum in many ways.
Today let’s talk about a few of those ways.
Introduce New Authors to Your Students
There are many reasons to introduce non-canon authors to your students. One reason is that using non-canon authors will almost guarantee that the texts will be new to your students. This in and of itself is an important point. Repeating authors and stories can not only be boring, but it often doesn’t challenge your students to think – they just repeat what they have read and heard before.
Another reason to introduce these new authors to students is that you never know what book or author is going to speak to a student, and by introducing them to as wide a variety of writers and works as possible, you encourage many different types of students to become interested in literature as something more than just a classroom task. Learn more about The Importance of Reading Engagement in this blog post.
Students Want To See Themselves Reflected In Literature
One significant way for students to become engaged in what they are reading is to make connections with the author and story – e.g., this author/character is like me! And while gender, race, and culture can play a big role in this aspect, the way an author thinks or speaks and the experiences an author writes about contribute to that connection as well.
By providing students with a diverse spread of authors and texts, students make connections with the materials they read, encouraging them to not only engage with the book they are studying but also see the importance of their own life experiences as well as the possibility of themselves as writers.
Diversity of Thought and Experience
Whether or not students make personal connections with the experiences of the writer and characters in a story, exposing students to a wide variety of material exposes them to a wide diversity of ideas, experiences, and world outlooks.
Not only does this validate a wide variety of life and world experiences, but it also helps students understand, empathize, and connect with the world outside of their immediate environment. By encouraging diversity in the stories and authors that we study in our classes, we encourage this experience and exposure.
Lessons That Support Non-Canon Authors
Once you have settled on some non-canon materials to use in your classroom, one of the biggest challenges is to find teaching materials to use with said literature.
Because these authors and texts are not taught nearly as often, significantly fewer materials exist to help you in your classroom. While you can create all your own stuff, this takes time and is not the only way to do it. Lessons like my Novel Study Activities for Any Novel, Book Talk Assignment, and Book Flatlay Assignment are all great materials that can be used with almost any text you choose – canon or not.
Don’t pass up teaching great work just because you don’t know where to get or have time to create all your own curriculum. These things can go a long way toward getting you what you need.
Expanding your curriculum to incorporate non-canon authors will help you connect with and reach all that many more students.