New proposed Illinois school requirement includes a reading list of anti-racism books


ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Public schools across Illinois could soon be required to ramp up an anti-racism curriculum. We’ve been looking into the bill, which has lessons that come from a series of books.

The books range from fiction, non-fiction, to even children’s books. Those we spoke with say this could help foster more conversations outside of the classroom to better understand race.

“It’s a great idea. Much needed idea,” said Theresa Gilbert, a Professor of Composition and Literature for Rock Valley College.

House Bill 0080 proposes that a list of books about racism be incorporated into curriculums in every public school.

Gilbert says the list is helpful.

“Text of this kind like all text that we encounter should open our eyes to a different way of thinking and seeing the world,” Professor Gilbert said.

There are over 40 books on the list. If approved, the bill states it must be added to the K-12th curriculum for the 2021-2022 school year.

“At every age in our educational process, we encounter material that requires we analyze it and evaluate it that we try to arrive at decisions about how we use this material to help us build and be better,” said Gilbert.

She says this could spark more diverse conversations at home with parents.

“They can open your eyes, they can broaden your perspective, they can give you an opportunity to really think about yourself, about others and the world in which you live,” she added.

“I think anytime we can talk openly and honestly without getting angry about race, I think that helps people,” said Rockford’s Juneteenth Coordinator Tommy Meeks.

Meeks understands that everyone might not like the idea.

“I think it’s a good thing, but some people aren’t going to like that but to be honest they could grow to like it because they might [become] aware of things they didn’t even know,” Meeks said.

The bill has been referred to the rules committee for further action. You can find a list of the books here.

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