Diversify your collections of class books? Avoid these 7 traps


Intermediate level : Farah Rocks fifth grade by Susan Muaddi Darraj, Clean getaway by Nic Stone, Ways to make the sun by Renée Watson

Young adult: A phoenix must first burn edited by Patrice Caldwell, Wicked fox by Kat Cho, With fire up by Elizabeth Acevedo

Diversity at surface level

In February, Barnes & Noble canceled a plan release twelve classic novels with covers featuring protagonists in color after critics called the promotion “literary blackface.” In one live episode of “Book Friends Forever”Podcast, author-illustrator Grace Lin says it’s tempting for picture book creators to make a similar mistake. “I want to make sure that the (miscellaneous books) that are created are the ones that are not made just because people are saying ‘Ah, we need diversity! Let’s put some dark skin on this character! ‘ It’s very superficial and a little insulting, ”she said. By showing people from marginalized groups texture and uniqueness, books such as Lin’s Caldecott-Honor-winning A big moon cake for the little star can move classroom and library collections beyond symbolic diversity.

Picture books: Fry bread by Kevin Noble Maillard and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal, Crown: an ode to the fresh cut by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon C. James, The arabic quilt by Aya Khalil and illustrated by Anait Semirdzhyan

Intermediate level : The only black girls in town by Brandy Colbert, Jasmin Toguchi, Queen of Mochi by Debbi Michiko Florence, A pinch of trouble by Anna Meriano

Young adult: The bottom girl by Stacey Lee, Let me hear a rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson, Intact hearts by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Ignore intersectionality

Three decades ago, a lawyer and civil rights activist Kimberle Williams Crenshaw coined the term “intersectionalityAs a way to examine how courts have failed to consider the overlapping forms of discrimination faced by black women. Today the term is used more widely refer to how race, class, gender, sexuality and other characteristics overlap and shape the experiences of individuals. “We like to think of people as one thing or the other when you can be Asian, gay, and an immigrant,” said Martin, a professor at the University of Washington. While ten years ago it was perhaps difficult to find books written by and about people whose identities lie at these types of intersections, it is less and less true, said Martin. . “You can find these books if you search. “

Picture books: When Aidan became a brother by Kyle Lukoff and illustrated by Kaylani Juanita, King for a day by Rukshana Khan and illustrated by Christine Krömer, IntersectionAllies: we make room for everyone by Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council and Carolyn Choi and illustrated by Ashley Seil Smith

Intermediate level : Carry me by Jacqueline Woodson, Mia Lee walks through college by Melissa and Eva Shang, The bridge house by Padma Venkatraman

Young adult: Felix forever by Kacen Callender, It’s my brain in love by IW Gregorio, Animals by Akwaeke Emezi

Acolyte syndrome

Author Christina soontornvat was an adult the first time she saw someone like her on a shelf. While browsing a bookstore, she came across Millicent Min, genius girl by Lisa Yee, originally published in 2004. “I just remember being like ‘Oh my god, is that an Asian girl on the cover of a book all by herself? Not like the Baby-Sitters Club, like Claudie on the Baby-Sitters Club, where she is just one of the babysitters, ”Soontornvat said in a round table hosted by the Asian Authors Alliance in May. “It was one of those things where you didn’t even know what you wanted or what was missing until you saw it.” Like Soontornvat, many authors of color and Indigenous writers today say that they didn’t see themselves portrayed in books as children or when they did, the characters were sidekicks, stereotypes, or both. Through their own books, these authors offer portraits that center and celebrate children of many identities.

Picture books: Maybe something beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, illustrated by Rafael López, The patchwork bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke and illustrated by Van T. Rudd, Niño fights the world by Yuyi Morales

Intermediate level : Sal and Gabi break the universe by Carlos Hernandez, Tristan Strong Drills A Hole In The Sky by Kwame Mbalia, Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel José Older

Young adult: Not your sidekick by CB Lee, You should see me in a crown by Léa Johnson, Give me some truth by Eric Gansworth

Treat groups like monoliths

Author Padma venkatraman don’t mind being confused with the Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri, but she doesn’t think they are alike. “We also do not all share, within a given group, the same points of view,” Venkatraman wrote in a blog post 2018. As Venkatraman wrote, diversifying the shelves doesn’t just mean ticking off a book for each census category: “It means listening – and learning – and loving – individual voices, which differ by race, gender, in each label. that can be used. to bring people together. College teacher and youth author Lisa Stringfellow said this idea is also important when it comes to recommending books to young readers. She cautioned against assuming that a student will relate to a book solely based on race or ethnicity. This error is played for humor in the graphic novel New kid by Jerry Craft, in a scene where a librarian pushes a gritty urban novel about a poor, fatherless protagonist about a black boy. As it turns out, the boy’s father is the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. “There is a need to know our students on a personal level and not see our student identities as monoliths,” Stringfellow said.

Picture books: Just like me by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, Under my hijab by Hena Khan and illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel, Black is a rainbow color by Angela Joy and illustrated Ekua Holmes

Intermediate level : So done by Paula Chase, Indian no more by Charlene Willing McManis with Traci Sorell, Once upon a time in Eid edited by SK Ali

Young adult: Black brother, black brother by Jewel Parker Rhodes, The henna wars by Adiba Jaigirdar, Pretty Black: Stories of Being Young and Black in America edited by Ibi Zoboi

Excluding #OwnVoices

In 2015, amid the growing push for more diversity in children’s books, Corrine Duvyis, author and co-founder of Disability at Kidlit website, suggested using the hashtag #OwnVoices “Recommending kidlit about various characters written by authors from this same diverse group. The goal, wrote Duyvis, was “not to discourage people from writing outside of their own experiences.” It is to uplift those who are often ignored. Duyvis’ idea took off in the publishing world, although it has took longer to reach school librarians. For Stringfellow, the writers of their own voices bring something to stories that “someone outside of this community, no matter how much they’ve researched, would never be able to fully grasp. This authenticity has a powerful effect, especially for students who share that identity, Stringfellow said. When you do readings in the classroom A crazy summer of Rita Williams-Garcia, for example, she stops to discuss with the students of the grandmother the characters who press their hair. These details might otherwise go unnoticed to her mostly white students, she said, but students of color enjoy the conversation because hair questions and comments are a great source of microaggressions at school. Martin said supporting self-voiced writers also signals those in the publishing industry – who are predominantly white, heterosexual, cisgender and non-disabled women – that there is an interest in stories beyond those that editors have generally been willing to come back financially.

Picture books: Hair love by Matthew A. Cherry and illustrated by Vashti Harrison, We are grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell and illustrated by Frané Lessac, Saturday by Oge Mora

Intermediate level : Yellow butterfly by Thanhha Lai, Look both ways by Jason Reynolds, The moon inside by Aida Salazar

Young adult: Tear down by Brittney Morris, Not all boys are blue by George M. Johnson, When Dimple met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

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