So you’ve identified the gaps on your shelves. (If you haven’t, click here to find out how.) You know you need certain windows and mirrors. You’ve determined that you should add some missing voices. And you don’t have as many multiple perspectives on a topic as you’d like. Now what?
Don’t panic! I’ve done some of the work for you and am sharing it with you now. I’ve compiled an ever- growing list of resources that I personally use to build an inclusive and anti-bias library. However, the list is only as good as my own research and it’s also hindered my own blinders or sweet spots.
For example, even though I’ve consciously been building diverse book collections for a long time, it was only a few years ago that it occurred to me to analyze the bookshelves for class bias. Focusing on other sweet spots of collection development impacted the children I teach. They did not have access to windows and mirrors that encompass the range of economic diversity. The books on my shelves mainly contained the default in most books: the middle class. While it’s tough to find books that portray a variety of socio-economic circumstances in positive light, it is our job to seek them out.
My list of resources and my own analysis of my collection is also only as strong as my blind spots. Recently, I asked attendees at a MSLA workshop about creating cross cultural collections. They identified some gaps, mirrors and windows, and missing voices that I had never even considered.
Why? First, because we all have our own biases whether we want to admit them or not. Secondly, the librarians, teachers and administrators who were present at the conference, serve different communities than I do. So of course, they quite rightly have different identities on their radar.
What I love about this work is when we share our concerns; we can pool our knowledge and broaden each other’s horizon.
Someone in the workshop said she was looking for Cape Verdean resources. Sadly, you aren’t going to find these books when you walk into a Barnes and Nobles. So I started to dig. I had never researched books for this identity before. I was thrilled when I found out that Janet Costa Bates, a woman whom I often see at New England SCBWI conferences, had published a book about her grandmother’s experience of emigrating from Cape Verde.
I was delighted to discover this fact for a number of reasons.
- Another person helped me think outside my own boundaries and inspired me to seek out resources for which I might never have looked.
- I discovered that it is hard to find windows and mirrors through traditional sources; but with some work they are out there. (Here’s Mike Monteiro’s list which is also included in the resources below.)
- There are some (though too few mirrors) available for the Cape Verdean community that you might serve.
- This is a perfect example of why we need to share our personal stories. I’ve casually chatted with Janet over the years. But it wasn’t until writing this post that I understood what mirrors she was offering a community of Massachusetts residents. If it wasn’t for the participant in my workshop who caused me to think in a new direction and if it wasn’t for Janet quietly writing her story, my students may never had a chance to experience a life so different and similar to their own. Because of course, I am now adding the Lee & Low new voices honor award winner, Seaside Dream to my own library collection!
So please, enjoy the resources I’ve compiled thus far. (If you share them with others just cite my work). But more importantly, share with me your resources. Tell me what you looking for so together we can grow a comprehensive list for every identity and every single story that adds to the multiplicity of that identity.
And don’t forget to check back here periodically as I am continually updating the below Symbaloo resources for developing diverse bookshelves! (click on the image for the topic links)
Anti Bias Articles
Race & Ethnicity Resources
English Language Learners & Bilingual Resources
Sam, thank you for your work in opening up our eyes to wonderfully diverse world of ours. Literature, and very importantly, children’s literature, helps us to see the richness that exists all around us.
It is my pleasure to share what limited knowledge I have about using stories (both those contained in books and in other formats ) as a way to learn and celebrate the diverse ways of being in the world.