Archives For May 2014

I recently helped plan and facilitate a “Place at the Table” conversation sponsored by Children’s Book Council and Children’s Books Boston as part of Children’s Book Week. Below are the questions that I posed to the librarians, publishing professionals, educators and booksellers who attended. The conversations were rich and I would love to continue them virtually. Feel free to add your thoughts to this important dialogue about inclusion.

1. Why is it important that children have access to books with diversity content (ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic class)?

2. What are the barriers for diversity books that may prevent them from getting into reader’s hands?

3. What are some solutions, strategies, or conversations to help shift the barriers to getting these books into the hands of children? (Think about your industry.)

4. Who has access to power in your field? Which voices are denied access? Why?

5. How can we educate the gatekeepers in your industry? Or what do they need to know or believe to create bookshelves that reflect our population?

6. How can your industry promote and reward excellence as it pertains to inclusive literature?

If you are interested in reading more about the actual event, check out Horn Book’s post or the article in Publisher’s Weekly. 

And stay tuned to learn about some of the action steps people committed to taking to create change in their spheres of influence.

You don’t need to be Snow White to understand the power of a mirror. You just need to be a kid who has an adult who shares a book with you that reflects a part of your identity.

The joy which flooded my first grader’s face today as I told her and her classmates about a number of “old friends and new friends” made my aching back and sore feet worth all the while.

I didn’t need the reward of her glee half as much as she needed the validation that the world and her place in it was okay just because during the book fair I shared a book (with her in mind) called Tales of India.

But I didn’t share this book just for Diviya.  I shared it for all my first graders. For Diviya, this mirror, along with my pathetic year-long attempts to count in Hindi every time she comes to library, might help her know that there are people in the world who both recognize and celebrate her differences. But I also want my students, who may not have the direct life experience of the richness of the world, to know it exists. That is the power of story. It can work both ways. Each way forges a connection.

While it was a calculated gesture – I make sure I can share books that reflect my community and also expand their horizons-  it was also a simple and easy act that paid more than it’s weight in delight.

May we all have such  moments where we can feel the delight of self recognition or the awe of  providing it for others. May we all enjoy the thrill of stepping  out of our comfort zones and listening  to unfamiliar stories and experiences.

Go forth and find at least one mirror and one window today.