Archives For race

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.

  1. Another person helped me think outside my own boundaries and inspired me to seek out resources for which I might never have looked.
  2. 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.)
  3. There are some (though too few mirrors) available for the Cape Verdean community that you might serve.
  4. 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

antibais

If you are a in a school, don’t miss out on the link to access your school’s demographic data and a multicultural appendix B list for the common core.

Race & Ethnicity Resources

The icon for each ethnicity links to multiple resources.

The icon for each ethnicity links to multiple resources.

LGBTQ Resources

There are other resources in the gender and family structure sections.

There are other resources in the gender and family structure sections.

Gender

Some of these resources deal with questioning  gender identity while others deal with more traditional gender stereotypes and related issues.

Some of these resources deal with questioning gender identity while others deal with more traditional gender stereotypes and related issues.

Family Structure

Many more resources on the way.

Many more resources on the way.

Religion

Only a few religions are represented so far. More are coming. Click on the religion's icon for more resources.

Only a few religions are represented so far. More are coming.
Click on the religion’s icon for more resources.

Ability

There are multiple identities within the community of the differently abled. Here is the beginning of a list to provide windows and mirrors for this group of individuals.

There are multiple identities within the community of the differently abled. Here is the beginning of a list to provide windows and mirrors for this group of individuals.

 

English Language Learners & Bilingual Resources

Sites to purchase materials in various languages and articles about bilingual topics.

Sites to purchase materials in various languages and articles about bilingual topics.

Class

 

Examining for class is tough. Most books have a middle class default. It's important to see out a spectrum of economic realities.

Examining for class is tough. Most books have a middle class default. It’s important to see out a spectrum of economic realities.

 Diversity Blogs

Some blogs I follow to stay current on diverse resources to build an anti bias bookshelves.

Some blogs I follow to stay current on diverse resources to build an anti bias bookshelves.

General Resources

These sites could help you build your collection in various areas of identity

These sites could help you build your collection in various areas of identity

 

 

A mentor, who’s taught me much about multiple perspectives, has often told me, “unmentionable becomes unmanageable.” So when faced with an awkward conversation about race, I try to forge ahead despite my fear. I do worry that I may say the wrong thing but I’d rather start a dialogue than miss an opportunity.

According to Pro Bronson (see this post) ,many white parents and educators don’t find these race conversations easy. I am no different. But if I’m not willing to engage, then I’m responsible for making the unmentionable unmanageable.

12danceprincessA library class with lots of five year olds clamoring for books was one such occasion when I felt out of my depth but obligated to speak. A girl requested a “princess book”. I handed her Rachel Isadora’s stunning version of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. When she replied, “no, I want a pretty one,” I had two choices.

I could find another book.  Or I could find out why a classic fairytale set in Africa was not acceptable. Obviously, she couldn’t  articulate that she had been indoctrinated by Disney’s values of beauty, princesses and fairytales.

I had five minutes left of class and was at a loss for words.

As my mentor said, “just start the conversation. You don’t have to finish it.” So I told my student, that Isadora’s version was beautiful. However, it sounded like she was looking for a specific type of book that was of a different style. I showed her a Disney style fairytale she left happy.

I may not have said the right thing.

She may not remember the conversation.

I may not have shifted her thinking.

But.

I feel better for trying, in my awkward, off-guarded attempt, to interrupt her unconscious, internalized racism. I, at least, acknowledged the unmentionable to myself.

I hope she heard, so  that one day it won’t be unmanageable for her.

Here are 10 books to use as spring boards for discussions about skin color. They range from picture books to young adult titles. Hope they help.

PICTURE BOOKS

1.

The Skin You Live In_LargeThe Skin You Live In    By Michael Tyler, David Lee Csicsko, (Illustrator) Chicago Children Museum, 2005

This picture book uses rhyme to celebrate the range of skin color and the fact that children are simultaneously unique and similar.

2.

skinagainSkin Again   By bell hooks, Chris Raschka (Illustrator) Jump at the Sun, 2004

Another good title to discuss differences in skin color but honor that what’s inside is what counts.

3.

shadesofpeopleShades of people   By Shelley Rotner, Sheila M.Kelly Holiday House, 2010

Echoing the above titles in theme, this title uses photographs to show that skin is a covering that comes in all different shades, even within a family. Yet we have more in common when we move past these external differences.

 

4.

daisyDaisy and the Doll   By Michael Medearis, Angela Shelf Medearis, Larry Johnson (Illustrator) University Press of New England, 2005

While this story is 100 year old Daisy Turner’s memory that she recounted about her experience growing up in Grafton Vermont in the 1890’s, the emotions and issues of what it feels like to be different and face racial prejudice are no different today. Click here to find fascinating information about Daisy’s experience on the Vermont Folklore Center’s website.

NON-FICTION

5.

all the colorsAll the Colors we are: the story of how we get our skin color   By Katie Kissinger, Wernher Krutein (Photographer) Redleaf Press, 2002

A useful resource to teach children the environmental and hereditary aspects of melanin, or skin color.

6.

skininracismThe Skin I’m In  By Pat Thomas, Lesley Harker (Illustrator) Barron’s Educational Series, 2003

This nonfiction title provides young children with examples of racist acts while encouraging children to embrace differences.

7.

racism-pete-sanders-hardcover-cover-artRacism (Let’s Talk About) By Bruce Sanders Creative Co, 2005

As the title indicates, the book explains how skin color can be cause for unfair treatment. It also suggests that we can combat racism if we work together.

YOUNG ADULT / ADULT

8.

skinaminflakeThe Skin I’m In   By Sharon Flake Hyperion Books, 2007

This awarding YA title is great for older audiences. The thirteen-year-old heroine, Maleeka, doesn’t like being dark skinned because everyone at school makes it a problem. Befriending a bully doesn’t help. She has to learn to love herself and the skin she’s in.  Click here to see what one school has done with this profound text.

9.

face relationsFace Relations: 11 Stories about seeing beyond Color Marilyn Singer (Editor) Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2004

This YA collection explores issues of diversity, racism and ways to move beyond with well known authors such as M.E Kerr and Joseph Bruchac.

10.

blacklikemeBlack Like Me   By John Howard Griffin Wings Press, 2011

Though it is 50 years old, this adult or young adult title is not to be missed. It explores the issue of racial injustice after a white writer darkens his skin and spends time in the American South. Click here for Smithsonian’s view of how the book has stood the test of time.

color_of_us

Talking about skin color is both never easy and entirely simple. Especially if you keep three things in mind.

  1. Any conversation is better than no conversation, so don’t worry about getting it perfect.
  2. One conversation is just that. One conversation, a beginning. It doesn’t have to do everything.
  3. Practice makes better. The more conversations you have the more natural it feels.

The Color of Us by Karen Katz ,the wonderful author/illustrator of books like Can you Say Peace and My First Ramadan is a great entryway into the conversation.

Over the years, I had read this book a number of times to my library classes before I felt comfortable enough to actually do more than a read-aloud. And I use the word comfortable loosely. I was nervous that I wouldn’t do it right, that I’d get questions I couldn’t answer, that I wasn’t an art teacher, and who was I to have these conversations.

But as soon as I read this story, asked everyone to put a hand in a circle, and started talking about the shades of color we saw, my kindergartPeople's mandala - 12 handsners were eager for more. Everyone was clamoring at once. Lena,  the seven year old in the story was cinnamon brown. What color were they?

Be forewarned, you should have lots of food and spice colors to use for all the various shades of your community. The first time I did this I didn’t have enough variations of white – peach, apricot, milk white, eggshell white only covered some of the ranges in our class. But everyone left proud of their new-found vocabulary as they headed off to art class where they mixed paint to match their skin.

For further activities and discussions for this book check out Karen Katz’s suggestions.and this link too.

Happy skin coloring with your child or class!