Assistant Professor, Library & Information Studies, STEM Education and Professional Studies Old Dominion University Norfolk, Virginia
Cultivating diverse collections in K-12 schools has long been a part of a school librarians’ education. Rudine Sims Bishop (1990) frames literature exploration as “windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors,” allowing readers to find themselves and others around them in the characters in their books. Diverse books allow children to see others, to see themselves, and to imagine a world full of ideas and opportunities. But, how do we get diverse books into the hands of students when 77% of published children's books depict white or animal characters (Huyck & Dahlen, 2019)? There are multiple steps along the way including selection and acquisition, promotion and making the resources accessible, and working with teachers to incorporate diverse materials into their classrooms. The school librarian has a lot of influence in determining this path and ensuring others in the school value the inclusion of diverse books. This panel discussion will follow the arc of getting diverse children's literature into schools and the hands of students and teachers. Panelists will discuss selection and evaluation of diverse resources as well as training teachers to use diverse literature in the classroom in a meaningful way. Panelists include Michigan State University Librarian Elizabeth Webster, who maintains the curriculum materials collection and works with preservice teachers and education faculty as they address literacy instruction; Kimiko Cowley-Pettis, Tennessee school teacher and founder of Project Lit Community, an organization committed to increasing access to culturally relevant books; Elizabeth Burns, Assistant Professor of Library and Information Studies, who teaches a culturally responsive librarianship course at Old Dominion University; and Karla Bradley, K-12 school librarian in an urban elementary school in Newport News, Virginia. Participants in this session will leave with strategies for overcoming challenges associated with getting diverse literature into students' hands and promoting broader use of diverse materials in K-12 schools.
References: Bishop, R. S. (1990). Mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Perspectives, 6(3), ix-xi. Republishing available at: https://scenicregional.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Mirrors-Windows-and-Sliding-GlassDoors.pdf Huyck, D. & Dahlen, S. P. (2019). Diversity in Children’s Books 2018. sarahpark.com blog. Created in consultation with Edith Campbell, Molly Beth Griffin, K. T. Horning, Debbie Reese, Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, and Madeline Tyner, with statistics compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Retrieved from https://readingspark.wordpress.com/2019/06/19/picture-this-diversity-in-childrens-books-2018-infographic/.
Identify challenges and barriers to incorporating diverse children’s literature into K-12 libraries and
classrooms, and develop strategies for removing these challenges.
Identify strategies to prepare teachers to infuse diverse literature into their classrooms.
Describe best practices for selection and evaluation of diverse resources