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.
Looking for the best books to gift teen readers? Check out our suggestions below for intriguing, electrifying, diverse books for the teens in your life!
We’re excited to announce that Simmons College Graduate Programs in Children’s Literature has awarded Genielysse Reyes as the 2018 recipient of the Lee & Low and Friends Scholarship.
A partnership between the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children’s Literature and children’s book publisher Lee & Low Books, the scholarship provides opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds to participate in Simmons’ prestigious children’s literature graduate program. Lee & Low Books is the largest multicultural book publisher in the country and a leader in the effort to diversify the publishing industry. Simmons shares this goal and is committed to creating opportunities for all students so that a multiplicity of voices can be heard in the publishing industry and in books published for children and young adults.
This year, we interviewed Genielysse Reyes about her love of children’s literature, her thoughts on providing equitable access for people of color in publishing, and her goals as a part of the Simmons program.
Reading books with children at the elementary age not only helps them better prepare 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 fourth graders. 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 3-6 classroom collections to see what we offer, and check out our other book lists by grade:
- Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for Preschool
- Our 8 Favorite Multicultural Books for Kindergarten
- Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for First Grade
- Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for Second Grade
- Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for Third Grade
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