Diversity in Your Collection: Recommended Titles

In today’s age of social media and instantaneous communication, the world seems smaller than ever before. With so many people across so many diverse countries, cultures, and backgrounds in contact with one another—and often part of our school communities—it is important to acknowledge and promote a global perspective among young learners. This is particularly relevant for libraries, where diverse characters and stories can offer readers windows into the lives of characters very different from themselves. Below is a list of titles recommended by SLC reviewers that focus on characters from various backgrounds and walks of life, all experiencing problems, joys, fantasies, and ordeals that readers from anywhere in the world can recognize and relate to.

Subscribers can always find reviews of other great titles like this at reVIEWS+

Save Me a Seat
Author: Sarah Weeks & Gita Varadarajan
Price: $16.99
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Grade Level (as recommended by Reviewer/SLC): Grades 4-8

When his family moves to the United States from India, fifth grader Ravi Suryanarayanan struggles to fit in at his new school. Ravi is used to being a superstar student, but he quickly learns that his American classmates think his accent, clothes, and lunches are unusual and not impressive, even giving him horrible nicknames like “curry head.” Little does Ravi know that his classmates also group him with Joe Sylvester, a struggling student who is bullied and feels like an outsider because of his family’s financial problems. When Ravi and Joe are sent to the same Special Education teacher’s classroom, an unlikely friendship slowly takes off and is solidified as they find a common enemy in Dillon Samreen. The reader sees Ravi and Joe’s unique perspectives through alternating chapters and even finds a glossary for each character in the back of the book. This heartfelt novel would be a great addition to any library collection, especially one seeking more diverse books.

Reviewer: Tracy Scaglione, Library Media Specialist, Dorsett Shoals Elementary, Douglasville, Georgia
Rating: Highly Recommended

The Head of the Saint
Author: Socorro Acioli
Price: $16.99
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House)
Grade Level (as recommended by Reviewer/SLC): Grade 6 & Up

Samuel, a boy of 14 who lives in rural Brazil, carries out his mother’s last wishes by journeying to sleepy Candeia to meet his grandmother and light a candle at the foot of Saint Anthony. Rejected by his grandmother, Samuel finds refuge in the large, hollow head of Saint Anthony that rests on the ground. He soon hears voices of women that come to pray to Saint Anthony for a miracle. Samuel also hears haunting songs that reverberate in the saint’s head twice a day. In an effort to expel the women so he can discover the source of the singing, Samuel tries to grant the prayers of the women. His plan backfires as the wishes are successful, bringing in many more people. Candeia becomes a hotbed of pilgrims and the locals try to profit from the sudden influx. Quirky characters, funny occurrences, forgotten family secrets, and poignant memories make this story appealing to all. This book is a standout in diverse young adult literature.

Reviewer: Lisa Castellano, Library Media Specialist, Larkspur Middle School, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Rating: Highly Recommended Continue reading “Diversity in Your Collection: Recommended Titles”

Connecting Diverse Students with Diverse Collections

This month’s One-Question Survey revisited a question we asked back in 2011: “How much of your resource budget is spent on materials in languages other than English?” In analyzing the latest results, Dr. Maria Cahill sees positive developments and the nuances of collection development.

We hope you use these surveys to help you reflect on your own practices.  Subscribers can view our archive of past surveys here or check out the complete May issue, “We Read Diverse Books: Connecting Our Diverse Collections to Our Instruction,” here.

How Much of Your Resource Budget Is Spent on Materials in Languages Other than English?

 

 

In the write-up for the August 2011 One-Question Survey Gail Dickinson wrote, “We want our collections to reflect the faces of our students and the faces of our world. We want to present information and ideas to our students in packages that describe their world and the world beyond them. The last bastion of acceptance may be examining the collection to see if it fits the most basic definition, i.e. are the materials in the languages that our students speak?”

At that time, Gail concluded that school library collections did not reflect the diversity of the students, but she also acknowledged that it was possible, though not probable, that the 1QS participants might be serving “in schools where there are no speakers of other languages.” Coming back to this question nearly six years later, our results paint a much more positive picture, but they also point to the nuances of collection development. Continue reading “Connecting Diverse Students with Diverse Collections”

Meet Bethany Barton, May 2017 Author of the Month

With a book titled Give Bees a Chance and a personality that absolutely buzzes with excitement, it’s tempting to introduce Bethany Barton with a metaphor about bees, but that risks a stinging rebuke from those allergic to puns so I’ll drone on no longer and invite you to read on.

 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and this picture can certainly tell you a lot about Bethany Barton, artist and writer extraordinaire. Her books, such as I’m Trying to Love Spiders and This Monster Needs a Haircut, are as fun as she is, filled with her doodles, drawings, and imaginings that tell important stories about bees and spiders and monsters and friendship and patience and more. Her most recent book, Give Bees a Chance—which received a highly recommended rating from our reviewers—is not only absolutely ADORABLE, it’s informative too. And while Bethany was taking a few moments to stop and smell the flowers that owe their existence to bees, she was gracious enough to also take some time to answer a few questions. Continue reading “Meet Bethany Barton, May 2017 Author of the Month”

Shaping a Collection: Graphic Novels and the Needs of English Language Learners

Is your school a “melting pot” of diversity? Does your collection reflect the make-up of your student body? In this article from our April online issue,  Alicia Abdul and Kristen Majkut discuss the importance of having a diverse collection and why you should include graphic novels.

Subscribers can check out our May issue to find more articles about diversity in your library.

Librarians should focus on building collections that reflect their communities. For our school in Albany, New York, that community is a hub for incoming refugees from all over the world, chiefly because of the presence of an U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) field office. USCRI helps displaced families make the transition to the United States by providing a wide range of services, including language classes, housing assistance, employment opportunities, and immigration services. As librarians, we can support students’ English language acquisition and literacy development through purposeful collection development and library services, including, as we have found, providing and sharing graphic novels.

Needs of ENL Students

English as a New Language (ENL) students have unique circumstances physically, emotionally, and academically. Our students from warmer climates arrive wearing sandals and without winter coats, unprepared for Northeast winters. In addition to language barriers, there are cultural differences regarding eye contact, shaking hands, greetings, clothing, gestures, religion, and even food traditions. This makes it crucial for educators to provide opportunities for personal engagement.

Academically, some incoming students have not learned to read in their native languages and are now encountering a new alphabet with new letters, words, and sounds for the first time. Some students read their native language from right to left. Some are coming from areas of conflict and their education has been interrupted for several years. Some school-age children have never attended any type of formal schooling. This influx of students has required that our district consider different measures to support these students and their families as they transition to life in the United States. Continue reading “Shaping a Collection: Graphic Novels and the Needs of English Language Learners”

Thank You, Carol Simpson

We all love Carol Simpson. Below, Carl Harvey reflects on the many things she has done for the profession. Carl speaks for all of us when he says “Thank you, Carol Simpson!”

Carol Ann Simpson

I hope you will all indulge me a little bit, as I’d like to take a few moments to say thank you to Carol Simpson. I’m not really sure 600 words will be quite enough, but I’m going to do my best.

The May 2017 copyright column will be Carol’s last regular contribution to School Library Connection. For over twenty years in SLC and Library Media Connection magazines, her column has been the gold standard for copyright advice for school librarians all over this country. I know I personally have relied on her column for advice and counsel as I worked with the students and teachers in my building.

Carol has taken a very complex topic of copyright and translated it for school librarians. Her Copyright for Schools book—now in its 5th edition—and her many other copyright titles are classics that should be (if they aren’t already) on every school librarian’s professional shelf. Her work in copyright took her to the law profession where she has continued to be a voice about education and copyright.

But, beyond her copyright work, her many years working with Linworth Publishing and Library Media Connection led to many voices being published, many for the first time, sharing the successes and stories from school libraries. As editor of LMC (and its predecessors), Carol provided a forum for sharing and learning from each other. Marlene Woo-Lun, publisher of LMC said, “Throughout those critical years of change when libraries and schools were first struggling with how technology fit into education, Carol made profound contributions to the school library profession.” Continue reading “Thank You, Carol Simpson”

Lessons from My Father

When did you learn to value data?

In this editorial from our April online issue, Leslie Preddy shares her story. She blames her dad.

For more about using data, the importance of data, and what it can do for your practice, be sure to read our April online issue. Subscribers can access it hereNot yet a subscriber? Click here  for more information.

 

Ronald Carl “Pops” Burton

It’s all my father’s fault. His PhD is in analytical chemistry. He’s brilliant. I can remember when I was little and being awed when allowed to visit him at work, looking at all the scientific tools, equipment, and supplies he could use every day. I vividly recall sitting on his lap while he let me look through one of his scientific journals while he explained to me, as best he could to a small child, how important it was to keep comprehensive notes, charts, drawings, research for his projects. He showed me his bookshelf full of these journals and shared the value of retaining his old journals so he could refer to them and use past experiences to build upon when solving a new technical problem in order to improve efficiency, address environmental concerns, avoid contamination, or any problems in the factories that involved chemical analysis issues. Pops, as I affectionately call my father, was very patient with a very curious child. Who knew that would be a foundation for processing information that would serve me well as an adult? Continue reading “Lessons from My Father”

We Read Diverse Books: Connecting Our Diverse Collections to Our Instruction (May 2017 Issue)

Subscribers: Do you love diverse books? Check out our May issue in which we look at connecting these books with your instruction and practice. Find tips and advice for getting these books into the hands of your students.


Subscribers can click on the article titles below to read more.

Not yet a subscriber? What are you waiting for? Click here for more information and to sign up for a free trial.


Serving Rainbow Families in School Libraries by Jamie Campbell Naidoo

Let the Dodo Bird Speak!: A Rejoinder on Diversity in Children’s Books by Kafi Kumasi

Whose History Is It?: Diversity in Historical Fiction for Young Adults by April M. Dawkins

One-Question Survey. Connecting Diverse Students with Diverse Collections by Maria Cahill

Continue reading “We Read Diverse Books: Connecting Our Diverse Collections to Our Instruction (May 2017 Issue)”