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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Monday, January 12, 2015

In the News: The Grand Mosque of Paris

This morning, I read the words of Tariq Ramadan in regards to the horrible attacks in France and the following protests in Paris,

"Demonstrating for dignity, for freedom, against terror. Yes, a thousand times yes! And yet ... marching with whom? Difficult to walk beside (or behind) leaders whose ideologies and political decisions have killed thousands of children, women and men, and are one of the causes of extremism. They march in Paris for human dignity and freedom of expression while their government is killing, torturing and destroying."

This resonates with me. I have been feeling so frustrated by the dominant culture's lack of perspective and lack of historical memory (or just plain ignoring of it?). But I digress...

So today, I feel I need to highlight acts of solidarity. And so we have, "The Grand Mosque of Paris" a non-fiction book by Karen Gray Ruelle and Deborah Durland Desaix. People helping people. Yes.

From the publisher
"When the Nazis occupied Paris, no Jew was safe from arrest and deportation. Few Parisians were willing to risk their own lives to help. Yet during that perilous time, many Jews found refuge in an unlikely place--the sprawling complex of the Grand Mosque of Paris. Not just a place of worship but a community center, this hive of activity was an ideal temporary hiding place for escaped prisoners of war and Jews of all ages, especially children. Beautifully illustrated and thoroughly researched."

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Lists, Lists, Lists- It's 2015!

Before I get to the lovely lists, I want to share some (more) anecdotal evidence that books really do
aid in conversation and understanding. I read aloud Duncan Tonatiuh's, "Seperate Is Never Equal" to five 3rd graders the day before Winter Break. We got cozy on beanbag chairs and pillows in the corner of the library and I began to read... The kids interjected with experiences of their own about how they've been called "dumb" for speaking Spanish, and got into quite a deep conversation about how light skin and dark skin affects the experience of kids everyday. The book was the bridge that allowed these kids to feel safe in sharing their reality and they did so with strong voices. We all acknowledged together that while Sylvia Mendez and her family made great strides, we still have a long way to go. I go with energy and determination into 2015 to continue to have the stories and experiences of my students reflected in the books and characters in my library, I hope you will do the same.

Now, onto the lists!
Lists of lists- a librarian's dream! We've entered the time of year when bibliographies abound and we review the past year. Here are a few highlights...my goal is to not overwhelm.
This affords a moment to look back at the work we've accomplished and look ahead to what more we will do.  I've also added these lists to my Delicious page.

Kirkus Review's Best Picture Books that Celebrate Diversity 2014

Latinas for Latino Lit: Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature of 2014

Best Multicultural Books of 2014- ALSC

Teaching For Change's Best Books of 2014

Welcoming School's Book List of Inclusive LGBT Families and Characters

Article Revisit:
First Book: The Stories for All Project

In a survey of more than 2,000 educators from First Book schools and programs, 90 percent of respondents agreed that the children in their programs would be more enthusiastic readers if they had access to books with characters, stories and images that reflect their lives and their neighborhoods. We're not the first ones to address this problem. We know that if we want actually make a difference we need a market-driven, sustainable solution.