Florida DOE Posts Dated, Mostly White Booklist. Twitter Reacts.

A back-to-school reading list by the Florida Department of Education has drawn sharp criticism for its lack of diverse books, predominance of old titles, and overall lack of relevance to students.

A set of recommended reads for Florida students is drawing attention—and not the positive kind.

The Florida Department of Education published “Commissioner Corcoran’s Back-To-School Reading List,” (below) which was posted to the DOE Twitter account on Wednesday. The pinned tweet has since elicited a string of replies, serving sharp criticism of the booklist’s lack of diversity of authors, characters, and themes, as well as the predominance of old titles and overall lack of relevance to today’s young readers.

“I thought for sure this list came from @TheOnion,” Ryan M. Hanna @rantryan responded by tweet to FL Commissioner Richard Corcoran and Dakeyan Chá Dré Graham, Florida’s 2020 Teacher of the Year, who contributed to the list.

Organized by grade range, the Back-To-School Reading List, features The Emperor's New Clothes (Hans Christian Andersen), and Little House in the Big Woods (Laura Ingalls Wilder) for  “Kindergarten - Second Grade.” Topping the recommendations for “Third Grade - Fifth Grade”: Black Beauty and Heidi.

The Story of Doctor Dolittle (Hugh Lofting) and the poems of William Blake are among the Sixth Grade - Eighth Grade titles. That old—as in 1826—standby The Last of the Mohicans is there for grades 9-12.

“I'm struggling w/ this list. Eight authors of color out of 105? The 3rd-5th grade list's most recent entry is 20 yrs old? Who vetted? Relevance? What does it say to FL's diverse student population & their needs as readers?” replied Sheila Roberts-Veatch, a FL educator, according to her Twitter page. 

“Are all of the classrooms going to be outfitted with new slide rules for mathematics instruction too? 🙄 Do better Florida. Kids need to see themselves in the books they read. I lived in Homestead as a kid and I don’t remember a lot of dead white folks in my classes,” tweeted Mrs. Tanner, 2018 30-Second Booktalk World Champion, per her Twitter bio.

Author Image
Kathy Ishizuka

Kathy Ishizuka is editor in chief of School Library Journal.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

Deanna Evans

Add this to the reasons I'm so grateful to be a librarian and no longer a classroom teacher for the DOE.

Posted : Aug 20, 2019 07:51

Kathi Kemp

There are so many current and older books with diverse authors and characters who reflect our diverse country: Courderoy and A Pocket for Courderoy, Ben's Trumpet, The Shortcut, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, A Snowy Day, Peter's Chair.... from back in the day, and so MANY current books for K-12. It's not hard to find truly representative books!

Posted : Aug 19, 2019 05:39



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing