We’re making progress putting books in front of our children that emphasize under-represented groups. Maria Russo of the The New York Times recently posted an article recommending some of these books that “tackle” race and ethnicity. Reading Ms. Russo’s piece immediately reminded me of HFP’s lead teacher and director, Susan Eisman, whose passion is to use books as a tool in teaching social justice. When I asked Susan about her stance on children’s books, she shared:
“When you look up a list of the most popular children’s picture books, and you put aside the wide array of books featuring animal protagonists, you’ll likely find an abundance of stories featuring white, male, able-bodied characters. When it’s not explicit, it’s likely assumed that these characters live in a nuclear family. While many of these classics are wonderful, the repetition of stories from a single or limited perspective inadvertently reinforces biases and stereotypes. That’s why we prioritize diversifying our children’s library at HFP, an essential component of our anti-bias curriculum.”
Susan has the opportunity to bring this discussion of diversifying classroom libraries to other educators as she co-facilitates a workshop titled “Analyzing Young Children’s Picture Books with an Anti-Oppression & Anti-Bias Lens” with Laura Cznarniecki at both the OAEYC (Oregon Association for the Education of Young Children) and the NWTSJ (Northwest Conference for Teaching for Social Justice) later this month and beyond. More details on what, when, and where below!
Speaking of books and authors that promote social justice – we like this interview from Sherman Alexie. We think you will, too. He authored Thunder Boy Jr, one of our most recent purchases for our classroom library, and was featured on NPR.
Ms. Russo reports on the shift toward more diversity in authors and protagonists,
We Need Diverse Books is the unofficial home of the movement, and their web site is a good resource for reading lists and other useful news and information.
And to give credit where credit is due, you can find the New York Times article by Ms. Russo here — Children’s Books That Tackle Race and Ethnicity.
- Oregon Association for the Education of Young Children on Saturday 10/15, 10:15am-12:15pm. Clackamas High School, 14486 SE 122nd Ave, Clackamas, OR 97015.
- Northwest Conference on Teaching for Social Justice on Saturday, 10/29, 12:45-2:15pm. Madison High School, 2735 NE 82nd Ave, Portland, OR 97220.
- Threads of Justice Early Childhood Education on Friday, 1/27/17 and Saturday, 1/28/17. Wild Lilac Child Development Center. https://www.wildlilac.org/threads/
- PCPO Parent Child Preschools Organization Annual Conference on Saturday, 3/18/17. Clackamas High School, 14486 SE 122nd Ave, Clackamas, OR 97015 http://www.parentchildpreschools.org/conference