Is your school revising curriculum to make it more inclusive and diverse? Your role as the school librarian is essential in this work, and the AASL Standards will help you take a seat at the table.
The Include Shared Foundation empowers learners to practice empathy, consider different perspectives, and speak up for justice. The Competencies encourage learners to:
- consider and voice different view points
- demonstrate empathy
- reflect on personal beliefs
These Competencies play an essential role in an inclusive and diverse curriculum.
Below are eight picture books that inspire lessons in empathy and respect for diversity and justice. Share these books, lesson ideas, and AASL Standards with curriculum specialists and classroom educators. Together, you can work on lessons where all learners are seen and heard.
You Matter by Christian Robinson
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Share II.C.2 Learners exhibit empathy with and tolerance for diverse ideas by contributing to discussions in which multiple viewpoints on a topic are expressed.
Author-illustrator Christian Robinson wants all readers to know they are important. In his book You Matter, Robinson uses simple text and big ideas to express his message. Invite learners to list what is important to them. Then, divide the class into groups. Ask learners to share their lists to make connections with each other. Encourage them to ask questions to develop conversations. Click here to find more information about the book and lesson.
It Began with a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way by Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Think ll.A.3 Learners contribute a balanced perspective when participating in a learning community by describing their understanding of cultural relevancy and placement within the global learning community.
It Began with a Page is a story that encourages discussion about racism. Readers will see how Gyo Fujikawa was ignored in school because of her race. They’ll learn that Fujikawa’s family was interned in a camp for Japanese Americans during World War ll. These experiences compelled Fujikawa to represent children of all races in picture books. She was one of the first artists to illustrate children of different races playing together.
Explain the idea that books can be windows and mirrors; an analogy described by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop. Books help us learn about ourselves and people who have different experiences. Invite learners to share books that helped them learn more about themselves, each other, and their world. Click here to find discussion questions to consider while reading.
What Is Given from the Heart by Patricia C. McKissack and April Harrison
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Grow II.D.3 Learners demonstrate empathy and equity in knowledge building within the global learning community by reflecting on their own place within the global learning community.
What Is Given from the Heart is a beautiful book about empathy. It shows readers how to think of others when life is hard. Invite learners to think about other people who may need some help. Brainstorm ways to make a difference in someone’s life. Click here and scroll down to see how learners at Colchester Elementary School help people in their community.
Every Month Is a New Year by Marilyn Singer and Susan L. Roth
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Think II.A.3 Learners contribute a balanced perspective when participating in a learning community by describing their understanding of cultural relevancy and placement within the global learning community.
Are you looking for an intriguing way to learn about different cultures? Take a look at Every Month Is a New Year by Marilyn Singer and Susan L. Roth. The format of Every Month Is a New Year is unique and smart. The book opens up like a calendar; from bottom to top. Each month is presented as a double-page spread. Readers can expect to find beautiful illustrations at the top of each spread. The bottom pages features poems in front of a calendar grid.
Encourage learners to ask questions about what they notice and wonder about in the story. Turn to the back of the book to learn more about each celebration. Invite learners to use library resources to investigate the different holidays. Click here to find guiding questions and enrichment resources for Every Month Is a New Year.
Someone New by Anne Sibley O’Brien
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Grow II.D.2 Learners demonstrate empathy and equity in knowledge building within the global learning community by demonstrating interest in other perspectives during learning activities.
Imagine what it must feel like to walk into a room where nobody looks like you or speaks your language. Consider how you would feel if someone reached out to you with a friendly gesture. You would probably feel a lot better. Author Anne Sibley O’Brien gives us an idea of what this might feel like in her book Someone New. The illustrations in this story are incredible. The feelings of the characters are expressed through the artwork. Readers will feel a connection with the children in the story and relate to the emotions they are feeling.
In group discussions, some learners stay quiet. It’s important for learners to understand that everyone’s voice matters, even the quiet ones. Brainstorm different ways to encourage everyone to share their ideas. Borrow some examples from the story Someone New.
I Walk with Vanessa: A Story about a Simple Act of Kindness by Kerascoët
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Create II.B.1 Learners adjust their awareness of the global learning community by interacting with learners who reflect a range of perspectives.
I Walk with Vanessa is a powerful story with no words. The illustrations help readers interpret the book in different ways. Some may see it as a book about how to be kind to the new kid, while others will see it as a book about racism. When I first read I Walk with Vanessa a few years ago, I didn’t realize that Vanessa was Black. I inferred that the kids at school ignored Vanessa because she was new, not because of her skin color. I made this inference based on my own experiences as a white person who taught in mostly white schools. Now that I’m immersing myself in resources about racism, I see the book with a different lens. I now understand that Vanessa is ignored and bullied because she is Black.
Share this compelling book with learners and invite them to share what they notice. Their background experiences will shape their ideas. Click here to find discussion questions based on I Walk with Vanessa.
A Lady Has the Floor: Belva Lockwood Speaks Out for Women’s Rights by Kate Hannigan and Alison Jay
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Create II.A.2 Learners contribute a balanced perspective when participating in a learning community by adopting a discerning stance toward points of view and opinions expressed in information resources and learning products.
Belva Lockwood grew up in the 1800s when girls were not allowed to speak in front of a class. Only boys had this privilege. This did not sit well with Lockwood. She knew that everyone’s voice mattered. Lockwood spent her entire life trying to change this injustice. She worked with children and taught them how to debate. She also became a lawyer and ran for president when women couldn’t vote.
Young readers will enjoy learning about Lockwood in the book A Lady Has the Floor. The illustrations convey a sense of history and bring the reader back in time. After reading the story, learners can discuss injustices and brainstorm ideas to make the world a more equitable place. Click here to find guiding questions for this work.
Tom Bober shares resources about Lockwood in his Knowledge Quest blog post “Pairing Picture Books and Primary Sources: A Lady Has the Floor: Belva Lockwood Speaks Out for Women’s Rights by Kate Hannigan.” Here, you’ll find links to primary sources about this fascinating woman.
Walking in the City with Jane: A Story of Jane Jacobs by Susan Hughes and Valérie Boivin
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Share II.C.1 Learners exhibit empathy with and tolerance for diverse ideas by engaging in informed conversation and active debate.
Jane Jacobs loved her community. When she learned about plans to run a highway through the neighborhood park, she gathered her neighbors and protested. Walking in the City with Jane is an interesting story about persistence and community involvement. Readers will see the importance of staying informed about community actions and showing up to make a difference.
After reading Walking in the City, invite learners to read local newspapers or online news. Encourage them to learn more about something that piques their interest. Give learners the opportunity to express their opinion about an issue. Invite opposing ideas to debate the issue.
How do you use the AASL Standards to enrich curriculum? Please share in the comments below!
Author: Maureen Schlosser
Author: Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades and Social and Emotional Learning for Picture Book Readers published by ALA Editions
Skillshare Teacher: https://skl.sh/3a852D5