We fear implicit stereotypes, hidden messages, leaving a child out because they do not have the equal abundance of popular items as others, but what we do not see is the power that popular culture can have in a classroom context. We do not see the ways that children strongly identify with many of the characters that they are exposed to outside of school. If we can find a way to integrate popular culture into the students' literacy contexts, we will have a path that connects home and school that will motivate students and trigger excitement and imagination.
By allowing students to write about characters that they know, they will have storage of stories and have an even greater capacity to expand upon these stories and themes. When children bring their toys to school, they will be able to use their play to translate to their writing and story telling. It may seem like a stretch to some, but if students are given the opportunity to have their toys with them while they write, the play will encourage imagination in writing and elicit excitement for getting the students' thoughts down onto paper.
So release the fears and start integrating children's outside lives into their school lives with writing inspired by play!