On Wednesday October 21st, Sachi Feris of the blog Raising Race Conscious Children will lead a workshop to help parents and caregivers learn how to talk about race with young children. Each week until the workshop, I’ll share an article or resource to help you begin thinking about some related topics.
This week, I’d like to share a few different resources that I’ve encountered as a librarian, but have found useful as a parent as well. These resources can help parents think through the way they use children’s books at home. It’s important to consider both the quantity and quality of representations we show to children through reading. Are our children only seeing books about kids who look like them? How are children of different races depicted in the stories?
First, an infographic that depicts the representation of different groups in children’s literature. Sarah Park Dahlen, a noted scholar on the topic of race in children’s literature, calculated the percentage of books that feature main characters from diverse backgrounds. Dahlen worked with illustrator David Huyck to create an infographic about the state of children’s literature in 2015, and again in 2018. The size of the mirror each child is holding corresponds to how they see themselves reflected in the books they read. I’ll resist the urge to summarize and instead invite you to read the analyses of the infographics.
In this article, Dr. Judi Moreillon shares her perspective as a school librarian and grandmother. Time at home with her two young grandchildren during the pandemic caused her to re-examine her personal collection of children’s books. Dr. Moreillon shares her thought process as she worked to diversify the representations she wanted to show her grandchildren. She even discusses Ibram X. Kendi’s book, Antiracist Baby, which is available in OverDrive eBook and digital audiobook formats, as well as in our print collection.
And finally, a School Library Journal article about the role of older classics in today’s world. Although I read this article because I am a librarian, I found myself reacting more as a parent. Previously, I thought books like Little House on the Prairie could be useful teaching tools to read with my children when they are older. Now I’m rethinking that idea: is exposure to problematic portrayals still too likely to contribute to implicit bias, even with thoughtful discussion? Take a look at the article and see what you think. Feel free to consider these questions on your own, or share in the comments section below.
The workshop is supported by the White Plains Library Foundation.