Category Archives: Guest Blogger Post

Authors, illustrators, educators, and other industry professionals visit the blog to share their expertise.

The Issue with Celebrating Columbus Day

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

How Labeling Books as “Diverse” Reinforces White Supremacy

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.

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Journey to the East: Teaching East Asia through Children’s Literature

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.

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How One Classroom Used Todos iguales/All Equal to Inspire Social Justice

Todos igualesIn 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.

Engaging Students

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

Teaching Migration Through Children’s Books

In this blog post, Jill Eisenberg, Director of Curriculum & Literacy Strategy at Lee & Low Books, offers guidance on curating text sets aligned to the Re-imagining Migration Learning Arc framework. This blog post first appeared on Re-Imagining Migration Continue reading

Diverse Books and Mentors are a Powerful Combination for Developing Young Readers

In this guest blog post, educator Lindsay Barrett discusses the power and importance in having diverse books and mentors. Jill Eisenberg, director of curriculum and literacy strategy at Lee & Low Books, also discusses the role of diverse books in mentoring programs for developing readers.  This blog post first appeared on Reading Partners.

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The Importance of Diversity in Leveled Readers & Reading Recovery®

In this guest blog post, Dr. Lisa Pinkerton, the Marie Clay Endowed Chair in Reading Recovery® and Early Literacy at The Ohio State University, discusses the importance of expanding diverse stories for young readers in Reading Recovery®

I have long admired Lee & Low Books and their mission to publish contemporary diverse stories that all children can enjoy. As a Reading Recovery® trainer, imagine my delight to discover that Lee & Low Books is now on the RRCNA booklist!

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How to Critically Select Children’s Books with Representations of Disability Experiences

In this guest blog post, Monica Kleekamp, a PhD candidate in the department of Learning, Teaching & Curriculum at the University of Missouri-Columbia, discusses the importance of inclusive children’s literature and how to critically select texts with regards to representations of disability experiences.

What is inclusive children’s literature? What is it not? Why is it important?

 As students look to the shelves in their classrooms and school libraries, they seek representations of themselves—characters who look, feel, and experience the world in similar ways. The field of children’s literature continues to problematize the ways our bookshelves perpetuate representations of white, cisgender, heterosexual, and middle-class characters. A term often added to the end of this list is “able.”

Inclusive children’s literature that features characters who are either physically and/or intellectually diverse—characters who have been labeled as disabled—remain few and far between. Additionally, those texts that do exist often follow tropes of pity or dehumanization. These texts have also been heavily critiqued for their over-representation of white male characters who access prosthetics. Continue reading

Teaching My Kindergarten Class about the Refugee Experience

In this guest post, Rona K. Wolfe, Junior Kindergarten Teacher at the Milwaukee Jewish Day School, explores methods of teaching her kindergarten students about the experiences of refugees around the world.

Rethinking

As a kindergarten teacher, I wanted to expose my students to global experiences. What does that look like in a class with our youngest students? After careful thought, I wanted the young children in my class at the Milwaukee Jewish Day School to learn about the difficulties and experiences of refugees living in our community.

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Diverse Books for Social Emotional Learning in Grade 1

Social and Emotional Learning in Grade 1

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is a hot topic, but it’s certainly not new. Skills like empathy, cultivating and maintaining positive relationships, recognizing and managing emotions, problem solving, approaching tasks with grit and perseverance, and taking on others’ perspectives have always, and will always, be crucial to kids’ success. Research shared by CASEL reports that SEL programs lead to “immediate improvements in mental health, social skills, and academic achievement,” and “up to 18 years later, students exposed to SEL in school continue to do better than their peers on a number of indicators: positive social behaviors and attitudes, skills such as empathy and teamwork, and academics.” SEL is certainly worthy of time and attention from those who support children’s development.

Books are valuable tools for guiding conversations about SEL topics. Children can examine and learn from characters’ actions and experiences and relate them to their own. Of course, book selection is key. When kids see both themselves and others in diverse books, it says, “You matter. Reflect on your experiences.” and “Others matter. Listen and learn.” Therein lies the heart of SEL. 

As students grow and change, so do their social emotional learning needs. Linking diverse books to SEL goals and challenges across different ages is a powerful way to support students as they navigate each developmental stage. This blog series, written by educator Lindsay Barrett, explores how diverse books can be used to support social emotional learning at different grade levels. Continue reading