What do books by black authors add to our education: A look at the English curriculum


Rishit Agnihotri

Many books by black authors can be found in English teachers classrooms for students to read.

Rishit Agnihotri, Staff Writer

At Amador Valley High School, English teachers have strived to include books written by black authors in the curriculum to teach students about black culture and connect it to common English themes.

“There are roughly five standard books by black authors out of four years of high school, and the rest are probably predominantly white. There are not enough of them to give an impact that students need. We are pigeonholed, if you will, in the black experience of what is depicted in the educational system by being fixated only on the few narrow perspectives,” said Honors Freshman English Teacher Danielle Hubbard.

Books by black authors like Invisible Man and Between the World and Me show steps toward not only representing African Americans in the curriculum, but by sharing the ideas of justice and equality to the students who read it during class.

“Reading books from black authors is important because of this idea to hear all perspectives. Now, black authors obviously are just one particular perspective, but the goal being that the more perspectives you learn about, the larger your perspective grows,”  said African American Literature Teacher Darren Pagtakhan.

Books written by black authors, such as Warriors Don’t Cry, helped students explore different perspectives on history by teaching them about the Civil Rights Movement in the eyes of an African American. The books, with themes of freedom and unity, helped the students connect English class themes to moral ideas similar to justice and power. 

“The idea is to explore all these voices and different thoughts and different ways of seeing the world, [and] you become more whole. I like to think the goal of a human life is to expand your perspective,” said Pagtakhan.

 Students may experience writing styles and dialects they haven’t seen before in books like Their Eyes Were Watching God, a narrative of Janie Crawford growing up in Florida in the early 20th century. This book, set in rural Florida, has a southern dialect that challenges and exposes readers to new perspectives.

“I always look forward to reading a book by a black author because the style of writing is normally different, like the wording and tone, and always carries on with a meaning that others don’t really know. As audiences for these kinds of books are normally older, they would probably need a more mature understanding of what the author means and need better knowledge of black history in the country,” said Ryan Boright (‘25).