I’ve recently taken a deep dive into my family genealogy. Besides a lot of research into old historical documents, I took a DNA test and discovered that I’m as Italian as I thought I was—a fact about which I am extremely happy, long being proud of the heritage and birthplace of all four of my grandparents. I also discovered a trace amount of Iberian and Senegalese DNA. Could Moorish Spain be in my past? I just love the idea that I am connected to yet another part of history. I’m now itching to read up on the subject.
Thinking about culture always leads me into thoughts on diversity. I am a white librarian working in a community that is overwhelmingly African-American. I grew up loving books and I want the children I work with to feel the same. I think it’s the responsibility of all children’s librarians to read widely and diversely to be able to point a child to a book they will love. And I mean reading all types of diversity: race, ethnic origin, religion, differing abilities, differing illnesses, etc.
I’m sure you’ve read the importance of books being mirrors, windows, and sliding doors. Children need to see themselves in books, see people different than themselves, and develop the empathy to imagine themselves walking through a door into a different world. Upon researching these ideas, I learned that Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors was an article written in 1990 by Rudine Sims Bishop, Professor Emerita of Education at The Ohio State University.
Dr. Bishop’s name is familiar to me, thanks to the Virginia Hamilton Conference, “the longest-running event in the United States to focus exclusively on multicultural literature for children and young adults” according to its website. Held yearly at Kent State University in northeast Ohio, the Conference honors the late author while promoting multicultural awareness and cultural pride. In addition to numerous workshops on topics surrounding culture and literacy, the Conference also includes a variety of awards, including the Arnold Adoff Poetry Award, affectionately named the Rudini after Dr. Bishop.
I have had the honor of presenting several times on multicultural literature at the Conference and will be doing so this year as well on October 12th with two colleagues. If you have an interest in multicultural literature and are available to travel to Ohio in mid-October, I highly recommend attending. You can learn more here.
This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group and VII. Professionalism and Professional Development.