The 2020 ALSC Institute was a new experience for me. This experience was the first time I attended the institute and since it was virtual, I had the time to savor many parts of it. The parts I could not attend was recorded so I will enjoy the conference later next week. As an educator, the two sessions that I enjoyed the most were, “Family Matters: Sharing Generational Love in Children’s Literature” and “Partnering to Improve Indigenous Representation”. The best part of these sessions and the overall sense of the conference pertain to the passion and responsibility of all librarians, educators, writers, illustrators, and more to show children of all ages that they matter.
The “Family Matters: Sharing Generational Love in Children’s Literature” session demonstrated to the audience that “emotional truth” reigns in writing children’s literature. The audience felt that truth in the stories that the authors and illustrators used to be “respectful and careful” when creating a world for BIPOC characters. They see these books as a window for non-BIPOC children to be introduced to other cultures too. This inclusion talk felt authentic, inspirational and similar to the “Partnering to Improve Indigenous Representation” presentation.
The stories from indigenous communities come from oral traditions and when written, it gives the reader a two dimensional viewpoint. The “color stories” are a “sacred truth” and a means to show libraries to put these books past mythology and folklore areas. The stories of indigenous authors/illustrators should not be steeped in history but viewed as alive and active in their communities. To support the activities of indigenous youth and advocates, there is movement to support the reading of a 1,000 books by indigenous authors/illustrators before kindergarten. Indigenous cultures are alive in the 21st century and they are protecting their lands from being destroyed and educating everyone that we are all connected.
The Family Matters and the Indigenous representation presentations were just a few of the mind-provoking, heart-wrenching, soulful sessions offered at the institute. I am eternally grateful to the scholarship donors that helped me “engage, amplify, and activate” my work at home, with ALSC/ALA, and to the children that read books to feel less lonely in their lives.
Beatrice Canales (@writeinanycolor) lives, reads, and advocates for authentic voices in children’s literature in San Antonio, Texas. She received her master’s degree in Library Science through being an ALA/ALSC Spectrum Scholar recipient.
As part of receiving a Friends of ALSC Institute Scholarship, recipients were asked to submit written pieces on their learnings and experience at #alsc20 to share with members and readers. Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.