Working in an urban public library, diversity is always on my mind. Up until this year, I was disappointed with the published picture books, lacking representation of various cultures and family structures. Our newly acquired picture books are much better at depicting all types of children and families.
One of the reasons I wanted to attend the ALSC Virtual Institute was because of the many programs that discuss serving customers with diverse picture books.
During the opening session, Storybooks for Revolution: Using Children’s Literature to Lead Children’s Understanding of Social Justice presented by Kathleen Gallagher, Ph.D., she poses the question, “How can books help us to have conversations?” She notes that parents and books can help children by:
- Creating confidence and pride in social and family identity
- Expressing comfort with diversity, which imparts respect and empathy
- Recognizing that bias is unfair and causes pain
- Demonstrating empowerment against prejudice
“It is important to use high quality children’s literature to support children’s learning of empathy, compassion, cultural competence and social justice,” states the presenter.
A booklist for educating anti-bias from Teaching for Change is shown below, recommended by Dr.Gallagher. Teaching for Change is a great resource for books and activities to expose children to social justice.
The following session, Family Portraits: Picture Books That Feature All Kinds of Families presented by Linda Gann and Karen Perry, opens up by asking everyone to explain what a family consists of. The answers are diverse just as families are. They mention the mirrors, windows, and doorways analogy. Children should see themselves reflected in diverse books because our world is diverse and they should see others that are different to better accept others. Books are the doorways to get children from seeing a small view to large worldview.
Gann and Perry go on to share over 20 picture books that show different types of families and situations.
Real world families, crises, breaking stereotypes, etc. are important issues for all to be exposed to.
These first two presentations were very impactful and I will definitely put into action what I have learned from the ALSC Virtual Institute of 2016 inside my library and outside.