by Pat Scales
The Children’s Book Council and the Association of Library Service to Children sponsored a Day of Diversity: Dialogue and Action in Children’s Literature and Library Programming at the 2015 ALA Midwinter conference. A white paper, “The Importance of Library Programs and Materials Collections for Children,” is available.
Building a classroom and library collection that represents diverse populations should always be on the radar of teachers and librarians, but now is an especially good time to conduct a cultural inventory of materials. Does the collection represent all cultures that make up this nation? Is there a balance between historical and contemporary literature? How accurate are the materials? How often do these materials circulate? What can be done in library programming to promote cross-cultural materials?
There are a number of books about traditions and holiday celebrations of other cultures. There are also a number that are historical. This column will focus on books that celebrate diversity in an everyday and contemporary setting.
- Ask readers to define diversity. Then have them name the different cultures in their classroom. What might we learn from one another?
- Children’s book Week is the first week in May. Ask readers to design a Children’s Book Week poster that focuses on Books & Diversity.
- Have readers read a book about another culture. Then have them design a placemat that features the book. During Children’s Book Week, ask permission to distribute the placemats in the school cafeteria.
- Suggest that older readers write a guest editorial for the school newspaper about the importance of diversity in books. Have them include specific titles.
- Display books about diverse populations.
Some suggestions for books featuring diverse characters from Random House include:
Mrs. Katz and Tush by Patricia Polacco
Piano Starts Here by Andrew Parker
The Name Jar by Jangsook Choi
Sweet Moon Baby: An Adoption Tale by Karen Henry Clark & illus. by Patrice Barton
Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth
Yang the Third and Her Impossible Family by Lensey Namiok
I Pledge Allegiance by Pat Mora & Libby Martinez
Yang the Youngest and His Terrible Ear by Lensey Namioka
Brendan Buckley’s Universe by Sundee Frazier
The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron & illus. by Ann Strugnell
Junebug in Trouble by Alice Mead
Ready? Set, Raymond! By Vaunda Micheaux Nelson & illus. by Derek Anderson
Thank You, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Eleanora Tate
Clever sticks by Bernard Ashley
Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park
Half and Half by Lensey Namioka
Darnell Rock Reporting by Walter Dean Myers
The Secret of Gumbo Grove by Eleanora Tate
145th Street: Short Stories by Walter Dean Myers
Hoops by Walter Dean Myers
Orchards by Holly Thompson
Bindi Babes Narinder Dhami
Words by Heart by Ouida Sebestyen
Join In by Donald R. Gallo
The Living by Matt de la Pena
Finding Miracles by Julia Alvarez
Outcasts United by Warren St. John
NOTE: The various cultures aren’t specified here so that inclusiveness is celebrated.