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Racialized youth, especially those who attend chronically underperforming schools in US's poor and urban communities, can be likened to singing canaries. These young people risk their lives by entering educational institutions that are not equipped to properly prepare them for the future. Historically, the canary served to warn coal miners of the presence of dangerous gases. When the canary stopped singing or was found dead, the miners knew a serious problem required immediate attention. Like canaries, racialized youth in inner-city schools are a litmus test for the health of the entire educational system in the US. In this article they first offer a diverse set of lenses for looking at issues of literacy and identity among racialized youth. By shifting their gaze beyond the concepts of risk and failure they challenge school librarians to adopt more-constructive lenses that change how they see (and consequently support) the literacy and identity needs of marginalized youth.


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Language and Literacy Education | Library and Information Science