One of the main tenets of my teaching and my work with children, college students, teachers, and even parents is the importance to make children’s books about underrepresented groups as visible as possible. As someone who does not work at a library, I must do this through the courses I teach and through activities that involve the community. One such way is by hosting “Read-Ins.”
So, what is a Read-In?
The National African American Read-In events were initiated by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) in 1990 to be held on February, during Black History Month. The goal was to promote diversity in literature. Almost 30 years later, Read-Ins are held all around the country in all kinds of spaces such as schools, churches, libraries, bookstores, and public spaces.
On Wednesday, September 25, 2019 I held a Latinx Read-In as part of the Latina/o Communities Conference at the West Chester University of Pennsylvania. The session provided a space where attendees looked at, perused, and even read children’s and young adult books about Latinx experiences.
Why hold a Read-In?
•They can showcase and highlight books about and by diverse and underrepresented groups.
•They can be as big or as small as you want them to be.
•They can foster community.
I have witnessed many students all of ages reading to each other and just sharing their thoughts about what they read. It can bring people together!
How to hold a Read-In?
You don’t need a lot. Any space where people can gather with books is perfect for a Read-In. The NCTE website provides some ideas. Some of mine have involved read-alouds (by me and by children), silent reading, and small group reading, music, posters, and even some food.
Because we want to serve underrepresented communities, there might be some research involved in finding the right books to highlight.
During my Latinx Read-In I provided QR codes so that attendees could access a document that listed all the books that were present at the event. It also included information about their grade level and whether they were available or not at the local libraries.
Through this post, I wanted to share the books that I brought to my session at West Chester University. Though there are at least 100 books, it is, of course, not an exhaustive list of all Latinx children’s literature.
Have you hosted a Read-In? Tell us about it!
Emily Aguiló-Pérez is an Assistant Professor of English at West Chester University of Pennsylvania and a former elementary grades teacher. She is a member of the Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers committee. She was a member of the 2018 Pura Belpré Award committee. She enjoys karaoke, dancing, playing trivia games, and playing board games.