MAGAZINE FEATURE

Toolkit for Picture Imperfect

Racial inequity, gender stereotypes and heternormity continue to dominate children’s books. This toolkit will help you assess your classroom library and make future selections that reflect a range of cultures, genders, immigration and socio-economic statuses, sexual orientations and family structures.

Inclusive books featuring diverse protagonists may be harder to find, but anti-bias educators know they are critical to helping students see themselves and others in their classroom libraries. Assess your library to make sure it reflects a range of cultures, genders, immigration and socio-economic statuses, sexual orientations and family structures. 

 

Essential Questions

  1. Do the books in my classroom library reflect the identities of my students?
  1. Do the books in my classroom library allow my students to learn about the identities of others?
  1. Do the books in my classroom library equip my students to interact respectfully and meaningfully with others?

Rudine Sims Bishop, professor of children's literature, argues teachers must provide students with diverse books that will act as "mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors" in their lives.  These books reflect students' identities, teach about people who are different from them, and inspire them to connect with others.  

Do the books in your classroom library help students see themselves and others in meaningful ways? 

Give yourself one point for each of the following statements that are true of your classroom library. If you earn at least eight points, be proud of the diverse selection you are offering to students. If you earn fewer than eight points, look for opportunities to expand your classroom selection.

 

My classroom library includes:

  1. Books reflecting a range of cultures;
  2. A wide enough variety of characters that all students can see themselves represented positively in at least one book;
  3. Authors and illustrators representing a balance of genders and races;
  4. Roughly equal numbers of male and female protagonists;
  5. Characters who express themselves with clothing and activities that may be stereotypically associated with the “other” gender;
  6. Protagonists whose actions are not bound by cultural or gender stereotypes;
  7. Different family structures (e.g. single parents, two moms or dads, children living with grandparents);
  8. Book covers showing different genders, cultures and races;
  9. People with disabilities presented as capable protagonists;
  10. Books that promote tolerance and acceptance of others;
  11. The native languages of my ELL students.

My classroom library scored _____ points.

I can make my classroom library more diverse by: ___________