Tag Archives: social justice

Teaching Social Justice in Schools: Facing Institutional Opposition

What We Believe: A Black Lives Matter Activity Book is a collaboration between Laleña Garcia and Caryn Davidson, both professional educators and activists with the Black Lives Matter at Schools NYC organizing group. Learn the story behind What We Believe here and how the author and illustrator define activism and allyship in the first two installments.

Today, in the third installment of our conversation, Laleña and Caryn share tips and suggestions for educators who face institutional opposition when bringing learning about BLM, social justice, and activism into their classrooms: Continue reading

Watch the Webinar: Strategies for Building an Inclusive Bookshelf

Thank you for joining us for our webinar, “Representation Matters: Strategies for Building an Inclusive Bookshelf.” If you missed it live (or just want to watch again), you can access the webinar here. Keep reading for links to the resources and books that were shared during the webinar.

Lee & Low Books Classroom Library Questionnaire:
Classroom Library Questionnaire- English (Interactive version here)
Classroom Library Questionnaire- Spanish (Interactive version here) Continue reading

Our Favorite Social Justice Books for Middle School and High School

While the term “social justice” may seem overly complex or political to adults, young people are deeply attuned to concepts of equality and fairness and how these play out within their homes, classrooms, and communities. 

Children’s books are an excellent entry point into units on social justice and social activism. Narrative nonfiction provides models of real people who have stood up for what’s right; fiction provides opportunities for discussion about difficult choices and character traits like courage, persistence, and respect.

Below are some of our favorite social justice books for middle school and high school that allow young readers to build an understanding of social justice and activism in the context of gender, socioeconomic status, race, or the environment:

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Our Favorite Social Justice Books for Elementary School

Social Justice Books for Elementary School

While the term “social justice” may seem overly complex or political to adults, young people are deeply attuned to concepts of equality and fairness and how these play out within their homes, classrooms, and communities. Increasingly, elementary schools are including units on social activism, social justice, or social change. Teaching about historical figures and fictional characters who have stood up for peace, equity, and justice provides rich opportunities for social and emotional learning and helps to prepare students to become global citizens who can advocate for important causes and enact change in their communities.  Continue reading

Social Activism Diverse Book List for Grades PreK-8

Social Activism diverse reading list

LEE & LOW BOOKS is proud to announce the launch of our Social Activism Diverse Reading List for Grades PreK–8!

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Interview with a Librarian for Incarcerated Youth

Amy CheneyAmy Cheney is a librarian and advocate who currently runs the Write to Read Juvenile Hall Literacy Program in Alameda County, CA. She has over 20 years experience with outreach, program design, and creation to serve the underserved, including middle school non-readers, adult literacy students, adult inmates in county and federal facilities, students in juvenile halls, non-traditional library users and people of color.

Cheney was named a Mover and Shaker by Library Journal, has won two National awards for her work, the I Love My Librarian award from the Carnegie Institution and New York Times, and was honored at the White House with a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. Her six word memoir: Navigator of insanity, instigator of enlightenment. Her theme song is Short Skirt, Long Jacket by Cake. 

Thank you for being with us, Amy! Let’s start with the basics: how would you describe your job, for someone who has no idea what you do?

Entrepreneur, innovator and relationship builder. But my overall job title would be Schlepper.

How did you become a librarian for incarcerated youth? Was it something you always knew you wanted to focus on, or did you begin your career with a different focus?

When I was a teen, a neighbor was friends with Maya Angelou, and they invited me to hear her speak in a church basement.  I remember clearly not wanting to be there, and then as Maya Angelou spoke with such passion and intensity, I felt the hard armor around my heart begin to crack. I remember the struggle to hold onto what I thought was me, or at least my I am constantly trying to advocate and educate for the library to be a right, and not a privilege that can be taken away.protection: the rage, indifference and sullenness. I recognized that if I was struggling with it, then I wasn’t a fundamentally hateful person. That was life changing for me.  I felt such a deep connection with her as a result of this inner experience, I read every book she wrote as it was published.

It took me a long time to realize that this experience is the basis of my passion for bringing in speakers and activities to stimulate the minds and hearts of those incarcerated. From Shakespeare to Cupcake Brown to Ishmael Beah to MK Asante (wonderfully, one of Maya Angelou’s protege’s), I see kids feel encouraged, enthusiastic and interested in a place that tends to dampen all of that.

In the 80’s I was a part of the anti-nuclear protests – when my friends were released from jail I was horrified to hear there were no books where they had been housed. I immediately started a book drive for the jail and that ultimately led to employment at the library serving those incarcerated in Alameda County.

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Where’s the Diversity, Hollywood? 85 Years of the Academy Awards

Note: This infographic was updated to reflect winners through 2015.

The Academy Awards will soon unveil the very best in filmmaking in 2014. As the prediction chatter ricochets around the web, our curiosity about the level of racial and gender representation of the Academy Awards is the focus of our next Diversity Gap study. We reviewed the Academy’s entire 85-year history and the results were staggeringly disappointing, if not surprising in light of our past Diversity Gap studies of The Tony AwardsThe Emmy Awardsthe children’s book industry, The New York Times Top 10 Bestseller List, Sci-Fi and Fantasy Films, US politics, and Silicon Valley where we analyzed yearly/multi-year samplings and found a disturbingly consistent lack of diversity. Continue reading

Where’s the Diversity? 5 Reasons Why the US Government Isn’t More Diverse

In our previous diversity studies on the Academy Awards, the Emmy Awards, the children’s book field, The New York Times Top 10 Bestseller List, Sci-Fi and Fantasy Films, the Tony Awards, and Silicon Valley we interviewed people who actively work in television, publishing, and the theater. We attempted to duplicate this approach for our diversity study on US politics, but with the government shutdown, none of the twelve Congresspeople we contacted responded to our efforts to reach out to them. However, we think the numbers speak for themselves: Continue reading

Where’s the Diversity? A Look at the Emmy Awards and TV

Publishing diverse children’s books for more than two decades has given us a unique perspective when it comes to diversity. While our mission is to bring more diverse books to children, we hope our efforts as activists keep the wider conversation on race and inequality in the spotlight. Our other Diversity Gap studies on the Tony Awards, the children’s book industryUS politics, The New York Times Top 10 Bestseller listSci-Fi and Fantasy Films, Silicon Valley and the Academy Awards revealed a disturbing trend in ethnic and gender representation. We decided to focus on the television industry next. Continue reading

Why Hasn’t the Number of Multicultural Books Increased In Eighteen Years?

Note: This post was originally posted in June 2013. An updated study with new statistics can be found here. The infographic below has also been updated.

Since LEE & LOW BOOKS was founded in 1991 we have monitored the number of multicultural children’s books published each year through the Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s statistics. Our hope has always been that with all of our efforts and dedication to publishing multicultural books for more than twenty years, we must have made a difference. Surprisingly, the needle has not moved. Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, children’s book publishing has not kept pace. We asked academics, authors, librarians, educators, and reviewers if they could put their fingers on the reason why the number of diverse books has not increased. Continue reading