Diverse books has been on my collection radar since I came to RHES, but because of the necessity of curating and budgeting for resources for the new science and social studies Georgia Standards of Excellence as well as a lack of time for an in-depth needs assessment of our diverse books, it was put on the back burner. While I have purchased a few titles here and there, curating diverse books has not been on the top of my to-do list. Not anymore! With my book fair coming up and the very anticipated monetary funding it will bring, I am excited to start building my to-purchase lists full of diversity.
Libraries are an important market for featuring diversity. When we include diverse books on our shelves and promote these books to our patrons, we are doing three super important things.
First, we are giving visibility to diverse books and the communities they represent, something that theorists such as Vygotsky agree can positively influence student's self-identity or perceptions of others, especially while they’re young.
Second, as the American Library Association explains, libraries can include substantial collections of material about different cultures, which helps to frame discussions, provides a basis for factually accurate debates, and demonstrates that diverse groups are complex and influential within society.
Lastly, libraries make books accessible to all people, including those who might not normally be able to read, but would benefit from diverse literature.
Where to Start?!
I'm not going to lie. It was daunting going through 14,000 copies in our library, but between my amazing media clerk and me, we were able to make a firm list of books that represent people of different races, nationalities, and a variety of backgrounds. I can't say I am proud of the list, because although I think the diverse books we do have are of sound quality, there is an overwhelming disparity between the breadth of our collection and the number of diverse books. I added our books to a resource list in Destiny so all of our teachers have access to the list of books. The books went into a special display in our library to bring attention to books our teachers and students can check out. Now I am on the mission of building our to-purchase lists.
Here are some resources I have been using to build our lists:
What books do you think are essential diverse reads?