As the nation grapples with the aftermath of an ongoing pandemic that has disproportionately impacted people of color in communities around the nation as well as recent incidents of police brutality that have raised awareness of the devastating impact of long-time systemic racism, it is more important than ever that the children in our community see themselves and the world around them reflected in the stories and images presented in their classrooms. Children’s literature is just one part of fostering a child’s positive sense of self and others and raising an anti-racist and anti-bias child.
Morgan Hill is majority non-white (City of Morgan Hill Insight Market Analysis) yet the books and images that fill most of our classrooms do not yet reflect that rich diversity. Having diverse literature available helps to create a culture of understanding of each other, and provides powerful tools for teaching students about social justice. The need for diverse books extends beyond the school library; English and civics classrooms need access to a variety of texts to go beyond the single story and celebrate cultural diversity. Given the uncertainty surrounding the 2020-2021 school year and the likely scenario that COVID-19 precautions will lead to at least some amount of distance learning, having multiple copies of books available that students can take home with them when not learning in the classrooms becomes even more imperative.
The work of supporting positive racialized identity development and talking about race with children is critical to dismantling racism; it is complex, nuanced and one of the most important things we can do. Much of how children figure out the world, even before they have words, comes from observing and listening. A concrete and powerful way to talk to children about race is activating children’s literature, which can be a great tool for sparking discussion with a child. Additionally, children’s books can often support adults in explaining concepts by providing visual examples and developmentally appropriate language.
The “Diverse Books For Our Community” program aims to provide the classrooms of our community with a variety of curated books that provide a more diverse variety of stories and images as well as books that directly address anti-racism and social justice.
A giant thank you to AAUW Morgan Hill and the Rotary Club of Morgan Hill for the generous grants that helped provide some of the funding for this initiative.
Here is a sampling of titles purchased in the first round of donations:
BCA is raising money to fund this program through community donations, grant writing, and in-store donations at BookSmart. If you are interested in contributing to this effort, please contact us!