Assistant Professor University of Dayton Dayton, Ohio
Responding to the call for an increase in the use of diverse children’s literature, Johnson, Koss, & Martinez (2018) asked us to consider the hashtag, #empowerthereader. This hashtag refers to the need to “look closely at our students and the literature we put into their hands – and bring into their lives” (p. 569). It is a distinct responsibility to thoughtfully and carefully select literature that will give children, as has often been cited, “windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors” (Bishop, 1990) to see themselves, the world beyond their communities, and their role in it. Literature has the power to empower readers to walk through the sliding glass door into the wider world, embracing the similarities and differences they encounter in those they meet. In short, literature can create equitable communities that are inclusive of all children. Librarians are the primary agents of selecting, and then utilizing, diverse children’s literature with children. To create equitable contexts for all children, librarians need to be empowered to select literature that reflects diversity, pushes children outside of themselves, and consequently, empowers children to act justly. There are multiple resources available to aid in the selection of diverse books for libraries and classrooms. The We Need Diverse Books website offers a comprehensive database of books of diversity. Award lists for books of diversity, such as the Pura Belpre Award, the Schneider Family Book Award, and the Coretta Scott King Award provide a sampling of books of quality published each year in these critical areas. In the research literature, much attention has focused on crafting recommended book lists to help locate diverse literature for libraries and classrooms (Flores, Vlach, & Lammert, 2019; Boyd, Causey, & Galda, 2015; Galda & Cullinan, 2000). These resources are helpful in giving quick access to specific books reflective of diversity, and helping build a strong collection of diverse literature. However, if we are to select, advocate for, and utilize diverse children’s literature consistently and systemically, librarians need more than resources and book lists. We need tools to help us build strong mental models of what makes a book diverse, how it impacts our community, and what contribution it makes to our libraries. Our research focuses on the use of a rubric (Author & Author) to guide literature selections in support of diversity. In this session, we will describe this rubric and how it can be used as a tool for selecting diverse literature to build equitable collections. We will model how the rubric can be a tool for not only selection, but also discussion among colleagues about what makes a book diverse. Finally, we will engage participants in a practice activity using the rubric. After attending this session, participants will know how to use the rubric as a tool to make purposeful, informed literature selections reflecting and embracing diversity to create equitable communities in our libraries.
Author & Author.
Bishop, R. S. (1990). Mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Perspectives, 6(3), ix-xi.
Boyd, F.B., Causey, L.L., & Galda, L. (2015). Culturally diverse literature. The Reading Teacher, 68(5), 378-387.
Flores, T. T., Vlach, S. K., & Lammert, C. (2019). The Role of Children’s Literature in Cultivating Preservice Teachers as Transformative Intellectuals: A Literature Review. Journal of Literacy Research, 51(2), 214-232.
Galda, L., & Cullinan, B. E. (2000). Reading aloud from culturally diverse literature. Beginning reading and writing, 134-142.
Johnson, N. J., Koss, M. D., & Martinez, M. (2018). Through the sliding glass door:# EmpowerTheReader. The Reading Teacher, 71(5), 569-577.
Upon completion, participants will be able to articulate their own definitions of diversity in children’s literature.
Upon completion, participants will be able to apply a rubric to identify examples of diverse children’s literature.
Upon completion, participants will be able to discuss diversity in children’s literature with colleagues using a rubric as a tool.