Raising race-conscious readers

In our three-part Race Conscious Readers series this fall, families came together to find ways to talk about race with kids in early elementary school.

As one parent said: “It’s important my kids hear these conversations around them all the time, not just at home. It reinforces how important it is.”

Books that celebrate, empower, speak truth

The workshops were aimed especially at families and caregivers who are white. We shared strategies for moving away from “colorblind” parenting, using books that celebrate, empower, and speak truth.

“Picture books are great places to start conversations about race and inequity,” said Multicultural Learning Librarian Naomi Priddy. “Kids as young as 2 notice difference. They also notice power dynamics. They notice when an adult flinches at a sensitive question. They notice and absorb these things. They absorb all of it.”

#OwnVoices

“We are so lucky in this era we live in, to have these books that show all kinds of hair, skin color, foods you eat, how you worship,” said Library Assistant Beronica Garcia-Puhr in the first workshop of the series, in September. “When I was growing up, I didn’t see any of this. I wish I would have.”

Yet while more children’s books about people of color are being published, the number being authored by people of color is still relatively very low, notes multicultural book publisher Lee & Low.

In October’s session, we highlighted the #OwnVoices movement, which calls for more authors from marginalized communities to tell their own stories. One book we shared was Fall in Line, Holden!, which author Daniel Vandever wrote based on his experiences attending Western schools and growing up in the Navajo Nation.

An ‘equity lens’ on all media

In November, families talked about taking the tools from the series out into the world.

“That means looking at all of the books we read with an equity lens, by asking questions like ‘Whose story is this? Who is telling this story?'” Priddy said. “And not just books, but also looking at the digital apps and other media you’re using with a similar lens.”

Priddy and other librarians curated apps, websites, podcasts, and more for different age groups that “stretch kids, are inclusive, and can open windows into the lives of others around the world,” she said.

View a brochure with librarian picks: Digital play for global citizens: Apps, websites, podcasts, and more (pdf) »

#WeNeedDiverseBooks

With the OurStory app from We Need Diverse Books, you can discover diverse reads and create a personal reading list using an interactive quiz. Access a free version of OurStory via web browser »

The library’s curated reading lists go beyond age and grade levels. Now you can browse dedicated compilations of Native Reads, Latinx Reads, Asian & Pacific Reads, and more. See books our librarians suggest »

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