Literacies Circle: Growing Libraries

No one, especially educators, wants to risk pigeonholing, caricature, appropriation, diminishment, or stereotyping in their attempts to bring about “multiculturalism” in their classroom or school libraries. On the other hand, color-blindness, or other identity blindness, in which an individual makes an intentional effort to “see” people as people, not their race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, or disabilities, invalidates people’s lived experiences and the richness of our diversity. Furthermore, color- and other identity blindness is inherently a way out of listening. Even if conversations about diverse books in restorative circles can feel uncomfortable, it is necessary toward hearing the full and complex stories of ourselves, families, and communities. 

How do we grow our classroom, school, or home libraries? And how do we see that these books are available for all children, not just for a targeted population of children?

How do we choose books for sharing? Where can we find resources—of titles? — or lists of characteristics to watch for when choosing books?

Should we take inventory of what we already have in our libraries?

How do we make sure everyone is represented in our libraries?

How do we communicate to families and communities the purpose of expanding our canon?

How can families and communities contribute their voices about books that doesn’t result in attempts to ban books? And how do we respond to their voices?

How do we support educators and librarians and their fears, misgivings, and courage?

How do we bring out the voices of our children and youth in their personal connection (or disconnection) to books, moving beyond simple checks for comprehension?

How do we avoid pigeonholing, caricature, appropriation, diminishment, or stereotyping in extension activities?

How do we learn to listen better? To wonder? To dig deeper? To be in awe? To be humbled?

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