Diversity Focus

2 Mar

I’ve posted before about the importance of diversity in children’s literature, but for the next few days, I’m going to focus specifically on diversity because it is so important in the library world.  I grew up in a small town in western Pennsylvania home to a small (very) conservative college, General Electric, and about 95 – 98% of the population is white… you get the picture.  Because my parents were professors of Adapted Physical Activity, I grew up around people with a variety of disabilities from intellectual to physical, adults and kids.  We grew up volunteering for Special Olympics, being camp counselors for sports camps for kids with disabilities, and generally learning that having a disability – doesn’t make you “bad” or “wrong,” it just means you might have to do something a little differently to make it work.

Although maybe not conscious of it, I looked for a job after graduate school that would be in a diverse community filled with different languages, cultures, and religions.  I’ve lived, now, in the same community for almost seven years, and I absolutely love it!  I have learned so much about other people’s cultures and opinions and I truly believe it makes me a better person.

So many people think that diverse books are only for diverse kids – but in reality, diverse books are just like any other books – they’re for everyone.  Not only is it important for children to see themselves in the books they read, it’s also important for them to have the experiences in books they might not have in the real world.  And it’s our job as librarians, parents, publishers, to provide kids with the books they want and need.

For more about diversity and this year’s award winning books from ALA Midwinter, check out the School Library Journal article that was just published today – “The 2015 Youth Media Awards: A Crossover Year for Diversity.”

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