A few years ago, conversations surrounding the importance of joyful books that feature Black characters finally started to pick up steam. Though BIPOC readers, specifically Black readers, have noticed the lack of joyful diverse books for some time, publishing is finally getting to a place of recognition that Black characters are more than just oppression and a teaching moment for outside readers. BIPOC are just like everyone else with varied lived experiences that aren’t always rooted in pain. In this guest blog post, we hear from author Kelly J. Baptist and illustrator Darnell Johnson to discuss the importance of Black joy in children’s books and how that translated into their newest title The Electric Slide and Kai.
In this guest post, author and poet Mark Karlins shares how his latest title, Kiyoshi’s Walk, can be used to engage students (and anyone!) to write poetry in the classroom and at home. Mark Karlins also shares how the traditional Japanese poetry form, renga, can help create community in a classroom especially in time for National Poetry Month!
As I was writing Kiyoshi’s Walk, all I was thinking about was writing an engaging story about a child who wanted to learn to write poetry, a story which has a strong grandfather-grandchild relationship and a progressive structure that keeps people reading and listening. Now that Kiyoshi’s Walk has been published, I’ve begun to think about how the story can expand and become a base for teaching writing both at home and in the classroom. A walk outdoors with a parent and child, a stroll through the playground of a school, even an indoors excursion from one window to the next, can provide experiences for the writing of haiku. Grandfather Eto and Kiyoshi demonstrate a way this can happen.
In this guest blog post, author Supriya Kelkar writes about the story behind her latest middle grade novel Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame as well as the need to have conversations surrounding the atrocities committed in the name of colonialism and whose story is routinely told and whose story is left out.
When I was growing up, I never got to see myself in a book. Although I’m sure books with South Asian American characters, written by South Asian Americans, were being written, they weren’t being published. Because of this erasure, I never thought my story mattered.
In this blog post, Katie Potter, Senior Literacy Specialist at Lee & Low Books, offers guidance on curating a social-emotional learning library and reinforces the necessary role that diverse books play in building an SEL collection. This blog post first appeared on the Center Of Responsive Schools’ Two Sides of the Same Coin.
As teachers, we know how difficult it is to explain and define emotions in concrete terms. A situation arises and we grapple with how best to approach it with the students. What are the right words to say that will resonate with them after a disagreement? How do we explain empathy or resolve a student conflict in a way that young people will understand? It can be a challenge to act quickly and make a meaningful impact when there is minimal time to prepare.
This is where books can come into play. By allowing the characters and engaging storyline to do the heavy lifting, books can take the onus off of teachers, presenting to children both the problem and the solution in a safe way that will reverberate with them.
Laleña Garcia has taught in New York City early childhood education programs for more than twenty years. What We Believe: A Black Lives Matter Principles Activity Book grew out of her work with Black Lives Matter in Schools, a teachers’ organization striving for racial equity in education. In this post, she shares more about how and why she developed this special project.
In this blog post by Kiana Low, our Lee & Low fall intern, she shares the history of Columbus’s conquest, examines the implications of celebrating Columbus Day, and highlights the importance of Indigenous People’s Day. This piece is based on an essay she wrote in 7th grade, entitled “Columbus, Not to be Celebrated”, which won a Scholastic Gold Key award.
In the past few decades, Christopher Columbus has become shrouded by controversy. While there probably won’t be any parade floats this Columbus Day we should ask ourselves: what are we really celebrating? The success of the supposed great explorer often taught in American classrooms, or a gruesome conqueror? Continue reading
In this guest post, librarian Alexandria Brown discusses the issues with labeling books as “diverse” and other ways we can build and promote a more equitable library collection.
Every so often, the question of whether or not to add a spine label designating “diverse” books makes the rounds. Many condemn the practice, but lots of library staff persist in labeling. Like most diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issues in librarianship, many of my colleagues are still operating within a white (and cisgender and heterosexual) supremacist framework. It is an understandable predicament to be in – after all, many library degree programs are not as strong as they could be in advocating for DEI and decolonization. So let’s examine the question of diversity labeling and see if we can’t get to a better understanding of why it’s problematic.
In this guest post, Natasha Thomas, senior at Princeton University, discusses the importance of studying East Asia past and present. Thomas proposes creating a diverse collection that shows the multiple ethnic groups and tensions that contributed to the development of such influential cultures and helps American students understand this region with a rich, complicated history rather than the monolith it’s often portrayed as.
In this guest blog post, educator Cindy Jenson-Elliott of the Nativity Prep Academy describes how she used Todos iguales/All Equal as an inspiration for her classroom’s social justice comic book project.
As a teacher in San Diego’s only free private school for resource-challenged, first-generation college-bound students, I have the privilege of working at a school focused on social justice. Most of our students are English-language learners, and their parents have come to this country seeking a better life for their children. As a staff, we look for positive stories that teach about social change that comes through individual responsibility and action. The book Todos Iguales/All Equal: Un Corrido de Lemon Grove/A Ballad of Lemon Grove by Christy Hale, uses corridos, ballads of social justice, to tell the story of the Lemon Grove Incident. In Todos Iguales/All Equal, Mexican-American parents successfully challenged the Lemon Grove school district’s policy of segregating Mexican-American from white children in 1930. It is a powerful story not only because students’ families around our nation continue to face discrimination today, but because parents stood up for their children’s rights against a powerful system and won. Continue reading