Books as Mirrors
When author Grace Lin was little, books about Asian Americans were not available for her to read. This made her wonder about her culture. She started to believe it had no value. Watch this riveting video clip about Lin’s story to get a true sense of why diverse books matter to our students. Share the video with teachers to remind them of how important it is to read diverse books.
Marley Dias could not find herself in any of the books assigned by her teacher. Most of the books were about boys and their dogs. She wanted to read books about girls that looked like her. She wanted to make a difference. Dias started a social media campaign to collect 1,000 books featuring black girls. She brought a great deal of attention to the importance of having a diverse book collection. Watch an interview with Dias to learn more about her work and #1000BlackGirlBooks.
Lesson Ideas That Meet the AASL Standards for Learners
- Share the Dias interview with students. Ask children why it’s important to see yourself in the books. Explain that your job is to make sure every child has access to the books they want to read, and you need their help. What types of books would they like to see in the library? Have them write ideas on a sheet of paper. Collect their responses and curate a list based on their suggestions. AASL Standard: lV.B.2 Collecting information representing diverse perspectives.
- Show older students this video about the book publishing process. Ask students to think about what they can do to persuade publishing companies to consider diverse books. AASL Standard: V.A.1 Reading widely and deeply in multiple formats and write and create for a variety of purposes.
- Read how one student raises money for a diverse library collection in “Diversifying Libraries-One Student’s Project to Expand a School Library’s Collection” by Katie Earles.
- A Birthday Book Club will generate income to help build a diverse collection. Read this detailed description of how to run a successful Birthday Book Club.
Need Help Finding Titles?
- Search weneeddiversebooks.org for ideas and resources. Visit their “Diversity Book Lists & Activities for Teachers and Parents” page and scroll down to “Seeing Yourself in Children’s Books.” Here you’ll find book lists to consider when making purchases.
- Attend a free webinar from AASL on February 20. Michelle Easley, the president of the Georgia Library Media Association, will present “A Practical Approach to Growing a Diverse School Library Collection and Program.” Attendees will learn how to look at collections and policies to see if they support diversity. Lists of publishers and titles will be shared.
- The “Horn Book Guide” offers reviews of new children’s books published in the United States. The online version refines searches with keywords and publication dates.
- The American Indian Library Association has a book review page and award winners on their website.
- Visit “Biracial Bookworms” and find award-winning diverse books and book reviews. This site was developed by Bethany Edwards, an international school educator and school specialist.
What resources do you use to find diverse books? Please share in the comment box below.
Mentioned Video Clips:
Asian American Author Series: Grace Lin (https://youtu.be/wbBKgoDP-oY)
NJ Eleven-Year-Old Launches #1000BlackGirlBooks (http://www.fox29.com/news/nj-11-year-old-launches-1000blackgirlbooks)
Diversity in Literature Matters (https://kidlit.tv/2018/01/diversity-in-literature-matters/)
Author: Maureen Schlosser
Author: Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades published by ALA Editions