Teachers, let’s talk about a popular topic across education blogs and Pinterest: the classroom library. A quick search on the Internet results in numerous tips, tricks, and ideas for different ways to configure and organize your classroom library. It’s an intensive and thoughtful process that involves thinking about genre, reading levels, interest levels, grade-level content, categories, and themes.
Unfortunately, we often see classroom libraries that group diverse books into categories that isolate or limit their use. Simply having a book bin labeled “cultures from around the world” or “black history month books” does not mean your library is culturally responsive. We need to think critically about how these books reflect the diversity of our students, their backgrounds, and the communities in which we live while exposing them to new ideas and concepts. Does your classroom library contain books that include main characters of color or with disabilities? Do your books featuring people of color only focus on issues of race, prejudice, or discrimination? Do they go beyond ethnic heritage months? Do they only focus on cultural traditions and foods? Continue reading
Reading books with preschool-age children not only helps them be better prepared for school, but it also opens their minds to new cultures and experiences. Exposing children early to both “mirror” and “window” books – that is, books in which they can see themselves, and books in which they can learn about others- is the best way to create engaged readers and support social and emotional growth.
Lee & Low Books offers hundreds of great books for preschoolers. Our books include English, Spanish, and bilingual titles; books about many different cultures; books that span a wide range of subjects and themes; and both fiction and nonfiction. Browse our preschool collections to see what we offer.
While we have hundreds of titles to choose from, here are 10 of our absolute favorite diverse books for preschoolers! Continue reading
Today we are pleased to share this guest post from Librarian and Diversity Coordinator Laura Reiko Simeon. Welcome, Laura!
On a shuttle bus at the ALA Midwinter Conference, I overheard a conversation between two librarians who had also attended the event where Journey around Our National Parks from A to Z by Martha Day Zschock (Commonwealth Editions, 2016) was showcased as an example of inclusivity, portraying as it does ethnically diverse individuals enjoying the great outdoors. I was disturbed to hear these white women chuckling over what they saw as the ridiculousness of this book’s presentation in a session about diversity. They made it clear through snorts of derision that just having pictures of children of color didn’t count as making a book diverse, and that the effort itself to show diversity in this book was just plain silly. Continue reading
Here at LEE & LOW, we believe in reading diversely year round. We know that reading diversely doesn’t happen by accident, it requires a regular and concerted effort. Ethnic heritage months like Black History Month can be a double-edged sword as people often only look at their ethnic book collections during these months. In her TedTalk, author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warns of the dangers of a single story. By allowing for only one kind of narrative, we can fall into the danger of stereotyping.
In honor of Black History Month, LEE & LOW staff shares seven books by African American authors that we’ve read recently, as well as seven of our favorite LEE & LOW titles by African American Authors:
In this guest post, Ruben Brosbe’s third-grade students from P.S. 368, The Hamilton Heights School in New York, NY demonstrate their critical thinking skills and share their reviews of the book Seeds of Change, a picture-book biography of the first African woman-and first environmentalist- to win a Noble Peace Prize (in 2004), on their class blog We Read Diverse Books. As a teacher, Ruben was inspired by the WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign to make his read alouds represent the diversity in his classroom and the broader community. Continue reading
In this guest post, Taun M. Wright, CEO of Equal Read, lays out some of the arguments for using diverse books in all schools, regardless of student demographics.
DeAvian was a disengaged student, more interested in socializing than academics. Her school had well-known books like Ramona but it wasn’t until her Big Sister gave her a book with an African-American girl on the cover that suddenly, “DeAvian’s eyes opened wide with excitement and a smile filled her face. She held the book tightly, looking up as if to say: ‘Here I am, at last!’” Now, DeAvian continues to read, and her academic performance has improved dramatically. The impact of representative literature can be profound.
In a year with so much important attention to discrimination, the call for diverse children’s books is clear. However, diverse books aren’t just essential to students from minority or marginalized backgrounds. We need diverse books in schools with students representing fewer identity groups just as much as we need them in more diverse schools. Continue reading
The temperature has already started to drop and we’re seeing Halloween candy popping up in the grocery stores, so that means a new batch of books for the fall season! Here are three new picture books out this week. We can’t wait to hear what you think of them!
Lend a Hand: Poems About Giving
Ages 6–10 • $17.95 hardcover
Lend a Hand is a collection of fourteen original poems, each emphasizing the compassion and the joy of giving. Representing diverse voices—different ages and backgrounds—the collection shows the bridging of boundaries between people who are often perceived as being different from one another. Written by John Frank and illustrated by London Ladd.
In this blog post, our editorial assistant Samantha shares her thoughts on the New Voices Award and what she’s looking for from this year’s submissions.
The beginning of summer is my favorite time of year. School’s out, the weather brightens up—although this year in New York, it’s been a bit shaky—and New Voices season begins. This year marks our 15th annual New Voices Award contest, and I can’t wait to watch the submissions come rolling in!
Over the last fourteen years, LEE & LOW BOOKS has published more than ten books that have come to us through the New Voices contest, including Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds by Paula Yoo (2003 Winner) and Seaside Dream by Janet Costa Bates (2006 Honor). It Jes’ Happened (2005 Honor) received three starred reviews, and author Don Tate won the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award Honor. And we’re very excited about several New Voices winners and honors that will be published in upcoming seasons. We just love reading the amazing stories that have been submitted to the contest, and it’s inspiring to us to work with first-time picture book authors.
It’s not easy to create an inclusive book collection. Whether you’re a librarian creating a collection for an entire community, a teacher creating a collection for your classroom, or a parent creating a collection for your children, choosing books that reflect the diversity of human experience can be a challenging job.
That’s because creating a diverse book collection is about more than just making sure X, Y, and Z are represented. It’s not a matter of ticking off check boxes or making sure quotas are filled. For those committed to doing it right, building a diverse book collection requires contemplation, research, and awareness. But the rewards are great: a truly diverse collection of books can turn children into lifelong readers and promote empathy, understanding, and self-confidence.
To make things a little easier, we’ve created a checklist to help.
Here are eight steps to all-inclusive reading: Continue reading
Looking for new diverse books for your collection? We’re doing a webinar this afternoon at 2:00 pm EST with Booklist and several diverse publishers – don’t miss it! Sign up free here.