Books are such a fantastic way to acquaint oneself with the lived experience of different people. It is something that directs my thinking as I select books for my son. I actively seek out books with a variety of characters and experiences. I want him to grow up understanding that people are different in many ways and how wonderful that is.
He is still little and doesn’t read for himself or even talk all that much yet but everything we do and say I know he is absorbing in some way.
In the past week the world has seeming turned upside down and I have felt uncertain about what things will look like in the future as my son grows up. The changes are really highlighting how necessary it is for me as a parent to push outside my experience and knowledge to give him an appreciation for learning about and respecting people and their diverse backgrounds. We are attentive to the role we play as White parents of a White child in a world that doesn’t value people of color. This article in Slate from a few years ago talks about the importance of holding space for conversations of race with children.
All that to say I was really excited when I saw the Read Without Walls Challenge from Children’s Book Council. Gene Luen Yang is the current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and the idea of reading without walls is his platform. I loved his graphic novel American Born Chinese which I reviewed a few years ago when I was researching Printz Award winners. I encourage everyone to sign-up and take the challenge, I am also doing it myself with my reading as well as what I read with my son.
In approaching this #Readingwithoutwalls challenge it prompted me to look at books I might want to introduce that are connected in some ways to what is going on around the world currently. It prompted me to go searching for resources and lists and I found some really cool sites to reference:
Brightly: It is a partnership with Penguin Random House and is a great resource for age based book recommendations and they have a list of books that reference the refugee experience.
Reading While White: White librarians manage this resource that promotes diversity and inclusion in children’s and young adult literature. Their website is not super navigable but I really like their FAQ page for unpacking White privilege and bias.
Upworthy Article on Diverse Books: This is a really nice article that also points out the statistics for diversity in children’s books.
We Need Diverse Books: This is a grassroots group that challenges publishing companies to create space for diverse books and make space for more representative voices. They have a fantastic list of resources for diverse books
A few titles I liked and added to my son’s reading list are:
Teacup by Rebecca Young
Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
Happy Reading Friends!