Readers need books to help them understand points of view and experiences outside of their own. But what is a trusted, expert resource for diverse book lists? How do we get those titles into the hands of your readers? How do we make the case for diverse reading experiences with caregivers who might disagree?
Back when we could still host in-person programs, my book club for fourth to sixth graders met to discuss Jerry Craft’s New Kid. I was confident they were going to like it – it was about to win the Newbery (among other awards), and I had been on a hot streak of choosing books my book club adored (not to brag!). I opened our book club discussion the same way I always do: by asking who liked the book and who didn’t, and by reminding them that it’s okay not to enjoy a book we read – they won’t hurt my feelings by expressing their opinions. This opening question lets me discretely check on their reading comprehension without feeling too much like a quiz. I was surprised when almost all my kids said they didn’t like the book – but I was downright shocked when I asked them to talk…
Scholastic’s “Empowering Young Voices Through Illustrated Stories” was like a behind-the-scenes meeting with the creators of three new picture books. These titles included Lala’s Words by Gracey Zhang, The Little Blue Bridge by Brenda Maier, and Wishes by Mượn Thị Văn and Victo Ngai. All eloquent storytellers, visual and written, the creators put emphasis on the importance of empathy and multicultural representation, as well as believing in oneself and the change that we can create ourselves. Mượn Thị Văn says these steps can be big or small and has hope that readers will be empowered to take them after reading Wishes. Brenda Maier pointed out a lesson in The Little Blue Bridge, that you cannot control others, only how you react to a situation yourself. Gracey Zhang expressed how important words are and the way they are used, as well as the importance of the images and what they portray….
University of Central Florida staff members Kristine Shrauger, Amy Dovydaitis and Emma Gisclair have created a database in order to provide access to diverse books that are ‘hidden’ in the library stacks. Hidden because the formal subject headings assigned to them do not reflect the details within the books that families are looking for: diversity in race, culture, sexuality, family relationships, health and disability. Using an intake form to categorize books they are building their Diverse Families Bookshelf database. They take a ‘picture walk’ through picture books as well as deeply reading and categorizing books for kids up to age 18. The PowerPoint of the program is here. They welcome your assistance on this important project that benefits all families.
Storytime Underground held its first ever guerilla preconference earlier today at the Harold Washington Library. The theme for the morning? Children’s librarianship is social justice work. And it can save the world. Don’t believe me? It’s true.
Earlier this month, a family came into the Children’s Services department at the Allen County Public Library to use the computers. I happened to be collecting books for an upcoming “Check Out Diverse Books” program, so when the youngest boy told me his name was CJ, I showed him his namesake in the award-winning Last Stop On Market Street. When he saw that not only did he share a name with the character, but that the character looked like him too, CJ’s grin was SO HUGE!
Each year, a select diverse committee of experts from the Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature (CSMCL) identifies the best in multicultural books. The mission of the CSMCL is to provide children, teachers, parents, educators, students, and librarians access to multicultural children’s books with high literary and artistic standards. CSMCL presents the Best Multicultural Children’s Books of 2014. Enjoy! This year’s list was compiled by Dr. Claudette Shackelford McLinn, Dr. Naomi Caldwell, Dr. Sujin Huggins, Ana- Elba Pavon, Lessa K. Pelayo-Lozada, and Elsa Marston. BECAUSE THEY MARCHED: THE PEOPLE’S CAMPAIGN FOR VOTING RIGHTS THAT CHANGED AMERICA, by Russell Freedman, 83 pages, published by Holiday House, ©2014 (Middle school/High school, nonfiction) BLOSSOMING UNIVERSE OF VIOLET DIAMOND: THE, by Brenda Woods, 222 pages, published by Nancy Paulson Books, an imprint of Penguin Group, ©2014 (Upper elementary school/Middle school, fiction) BROWN GIRL DREAMING, by Jacqueline Woodson, 336 pages, published by Nancy…