THE IMPORTANCE OF DIVERSE BOOKS.
Through our years in teacher education, we have spent many hours combing the internet for diverse picture books to use in our classrooms. While we found many lists containing some amazing books, none of those lists had resources for how to use the books they contained. This created a barrier to using the books; it was common for us to have thoughts such as “what if I don’t cover the subject properly? What if a student asks a question I can’t answer? Or worse, makes a rude or ignorant comment?” We realized there was a need for an educator specific resource that not only listed books but also had discussion guides and lesson plans for how to use each book. Our goal is to make including and using diverse books as easy as possible for educators so that every student can see themselves reflected in the stories read in class.
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As a queer and transgender individual, I have a special interest in creating respectful, inclusive and empathetic classroom communities. One way I have found myself able to effectively do so is through narrative representation of diverse students. I have spent many hours collecting and reading diverse picture books in hopes to curate a list that amplifies the voices of marginalized peoples. These stories allow me to connect with all of my students, regardless of our own differences.
Growing up as a queer person of colour, I never saw myself reflected in the books read. I believe that the literature and stories presented to children play an influential role in their lives. Students need to be able to see themselves as well as their peers in the stories they read. Having diverse books not only can make the difference for one student but also create empathy and a sense of community for everyone else. We need diverse books in classrooms to show students they are not alone.