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
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.
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.
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
Gauri Manglik and Sadaf Siddique, co-founders of the South Asian book blog KitaabWorld, wrote this guest post on how to tackle Islamophobia with children’s literature.
Do you work with English Language Learners or have English Language Learners in your classroom? Whether your classroom has only a few ELLs or a majority, it’s critical to think about different strategies and skills that ELLs need to engage with books as they’re starting to read in kindergarten.
It’s also essential that your classroom library has authentic and culturally relevant texts in both English and Spanish so that all readers can have texts that fit their needs and interests. To get started, we recommend evaluating your classroom library. Our Classroom Library Questionnaire is a tool that can help you analyze the books in your library and determine where there are strengths and gaps in diversity.
Read on to find out different skills that you can teach ELLs when they’re reading at levels A, B, and C. Continue reading
In the fourth post of our Reading Conferences with Beginning Readers blog series, renowned literacy expert Jennifer Serravallo shares how to read sight words automatically and accurately. This post is taken from our free, downloadable “Success Starts Early: Reading Conferences with Your Beginning Readers” guide.
What are sight words and why are they important?
Sight words are words that children have learned to recognize without having to decode. Sight words are some of the most frequently used words in English and some of the first words early readers learn to recognize on sight and read. Level A, B, and C books are filled with these familiar words. When children read books at these levels, they should be able to recognize the words they have learned and read them automatically. Continue reading
Novel Effect, a free voice interactive storytelling app, syncs theme music and sound effects to stories as you read them aloud. By now, you may have explored some of the Lee & Low titles available on the app, including Baby Born, The Story I’ll Tell, Sparkle Boy, and Baseball Saved Us (and more on the way!). What you may not know is that Novel Effect works with award-winning composers from film and gaming to custom create each and every soundscape.
We sat down with composer Ian Silver and Audio Lead Matthew Boerner, two of the talents behind several Novel Effect soundscapes, to ask them about creating the Lee & Low soundscape for Baseball Saved Us.
In this guest blog post, certified special educator and Chief of Education for Novel Effect Melody Zagami Furze introduces Novel Effect, a free voice interactive storytelling app that can “add music, sounds, and even characters’ voices, simply by reading a book out loud” to enrich the storytelling experience with kids. Lee & Low is excited to have soundtracks for several of our books available now on Novel Effect!
As an early childhood educator and now a parent, I know how exhausting it can be to squeeze in all the classroom activities you need in a single day. We created Novel Effect so that story time can be an achievable daily goal for you and your students, especially the ones who may find it extra hard to sit still until the end of a book.
In this guest post, New York Public Library Head of Teen Services Elisa Garcia shares some of her favorite titles for fostering conversation and dialogue during Hispanic Heritage Month and BEYOND. Welcome, Elisa!
Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated September 15- October 15. While it is great that these days are solely dedicated to celebrating and highlighting Hispanic Heritage, in public libraries part of our mission is to ensure that our collections reflect the diversity of our users and that culture and diversity are celebrated year round! The following recommended titles are valuable additions to our library collection that not only celebrate the diversity of Latinx culture, but can be used year-round to celebrate culture and diversity of all peoples. Continue reading