I am an elementary school librarian in an urban setting in Massachusetts. Through the work of creating a more representative and inclusive library collection for my students, I learned a lot about the politics of the publishing industry, the accepted institutional racism and purposeful exclusion of communities in books and that we should be outraged at the continued disenfranchisement of our children.
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Friday, June 13, 2014

Leaving Crumbs...

Today was the final meeting with a colleague and the professor that was leading us through our Teacher Action Research project. The project began as simply wanting to understand what a "reflective library" meant to students, specifically boys of color. Did they feel our library was inclusive and they had the availability of books to read that reflected them (interests, culture, physicality, etc.). You can read about some of our conversations in this blog post.

The thing is, I thought (naively) that at the end of these last few months of conversations and reflections, I would have this neat little package with clear answers to my questions. I wanted the kids to feel empowered by their library knowing that their interests and experiences were worth writing about, publishing and displaying prominently. I wanted them to  know what to expect from libraries in general (i.e. an inclusive collection) and feel a sense of belonging. I guess, what I wanted them to get to say was, "Aha! I see! Yes!", by following the clear path I had created for them, but I think I just left a trail of bread crumbs few and far between in a brushy forest.
Library shelfie amongst my picture books.
There is no marked trail.  I am actually left with even more questions. As the school year comes to a close, I hope the summer affords me enough time and space to be more contemplative and critical (constructively so, of course) of  my practice, of how to leave more crumbs on the path of awareness for my students. I hope this pathway leads my students from the library and out into the broader neighborhood equipped with a sense of self and the knowledge that they too are an important and essential component of our community.

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