“We Read Diverse Books: Connecting Our Diverse Collections to Our Instruction.” A Supplement for LIS Faculty

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We are pleased to continue our series of learning experiences designed for use with school library candidates in graduate/professional programs, including pre-service school librarians and practitioners working as educators while earning their credentials. This month, Carl A. Harvey II, Topic Center Editor for Organization & Management, has provided a series of activities to help faculty in using the text from our May issue for assignment instructions or online course modules.

Current subscribers can access the referenced articles via the hyperlinks below. (Magazine subscribers who still need to register for their login credentials at no extra cost may do so here.) As always, new subscribers are warmly welcomed into the SLC community, or we invite you to sign up for a free preview of our online platform.

In this issue of School Library Connection, which focuses on how to connect our students to diverse books, Leslie Preddy reminds us that, “although diversity is currently a social and politicized buzzword, it is important for us to remember school libraries have a history with understanding and embracing diversity in our community. It is through meeting the needs of the populations we serve that we intentionally, and in a natural manner, incorporate compassion and respect through the instruction, programming, and collections we design for our schools.” In many articles this month, our authors explore the diverse collections found in our libraries and the diversity of the patrons who use them, offering potential connections and points of discussion to LIS courses that focus on collection development, children’s literature, young adult literature, and library instruction.
—Carl A. Harvey II, Instructor of School Librarianship, Longwood University, Farmville, VA


Instructional objectives for the activities below follow.

School librarian candidates will:

  • Identify, discuss, and practice building collections that meet the needs of diverse learners.
  • Identify, discuss, and practice strategies for working with and including diverse learners in school library programs.



Collection Development—Building Collections for Diverse Learners

Cahill, Maria. “Connecting Diverse Students with Diverse Collections.” School Library Connection, May 2017.


Dawkins, April M. “Whose History Is It?: Diversity in Historical Fiction for Young Adults.” School Library Connection, May 2017.


Kumasi, Kafi. “Let the Dodo Bird Speak!: A Rejoinder on Diversity in Children’s Literature.” School Library Connection, May 2017.


Naidoo, Jamie Campbell. “Serving Rainbow Families in School Libraries.” School Library Connection, May 2017.


Zilonis, Mary Frances, and Chris Swerling. “Moving Diverse Books from Your Library Shelves and into the Hands of Readers.” School Library Connection, May 2017.

In talking about diverse collections, Rudine Simms Bishop is often cited for her discussion of the importance of providing “windows and mirrors” to allow children to recognize themselves and to develop empathy for others.

Read the selection of articles listed above, then choose a user group of would-be library patrons (e.g. a specific immigrant group in your community, LGBT students, etc.) and pick a specific level of school library to focus on (elementary, middle, or high school). Research the issues, values, and needs that would be important to that group and then prepare an annotated bibliography of resources in APA style that would be appropriate to add to the library collection. Use the resources suggested by the authors above and the reVIEWS+ database to aid in evaluating your selections. Finally, come up with three ideas for promoting these newly acquired books to library patrons.

Sharing these bibliographies and promotion ideas in class offers opportunities for discussion and building a network of resources that could be helpful once the school librarian begins in their library.

Additional Resources: Related articles

Garrison, Kasey, and Roxanne Mills. “Tools of the Trade. Evaluating Multicultural Literature Made Easy!Library Media Connection 30, no. 5 (October 2015).

Hinton, KaaVonia. “Connecting with Culture through Literature: Authors Speak.” Library Media Connection 31, no. 3 (February 2016).

Zeluff, Kristin. “Collection Development Policies in Juvenile Detention Center Libraries.” Library Media Connection 30, no. 5 (October 2015).

Zilonis, Mary Frances, and Chris Swerling. “On Common Ground. Collection Development for Readers: Providing Windows and Mirrors.” Part One. School Library Connection, March 2017. 

Zilonis, Mary Frances, and Chris Swerling. “On Common Ground. Building School Library Collections with Windows and Mirrors.” Part Two. School Library Connection, April 2017.


Diverse Users—Strategies for Inclusion

Cuperman, Raquel Coifmann. “Online Literacy Discussions with Elementary Students: Lessons Learned from Mediators.” School Library Connection, May 2017.


Donovan, Lori. “Library Services for Special Education and English Language Learners.” School Library Connection, May 2017.


Jacobs, Melissa and Melissa P. Johnston. “Read and Lead with Diversity.” School Library Connection, May 2017.


Moreillon, Judi. “Progressive Collection Development = A Foundation for Differentiated Instruction.” School Library Connection, May 2017.


Neuman, Eric. “Working with Diverse Students in NYC.” School Library Connection, May 2017.


Our libraries are there for everyone, and we have to make sure that when we work to meet the needs of our diverse student bodies, we are considering not only the collection, but also services and instruction.

Consider some of the groups reflected in the articles above, as well as other groups that a librarian might want to make sure are being served in their library. Pick one or more of these groups and consider strategies to meet their needs, including resources a library might need and key people or organizations the librarian can use for support. Next, develop an action plan to make sure the library is meeting the needs of the group you chose. AASL provides a great template for developing an action plan, which can be found on numbered page 42 of their publication A Planning Guide for Empowering Learners, which is available online here.

Sharing the plans in class should offer an opportunity for rich discussion and opportunities for the idea of creating a library that is inclusive for all types of learners.

Additional Resources: Related Articles

Adams, Helen R. “Library Services for Detained Youth.” School Library Monthly, 29, no. 7 (April 2013).

Gangwish, Kim. “Deaf ≠ Silenced: Serving the Needs of the Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Students in School Libraries.” School Library Connection, October 2015.

Kaeding, Jo, and Tess Prendergast. “Bridging the Gap between Libraries and Families of Children with Disabilities.” School Library Connection, April 2017.

Rausch, Stephanee. “The Adaptive Library.” School Library Connection, February 2017.

Additional Resources: Related SLC workshops

Libraries & Autism by Nancy Everhart

Services for Black Youth by Sandra Hughes-Hassell and Casey Rawson


Foreign Language Collections

Cahill, Maria. “Connecting Diverse Students with Diverse Collections.” School Library Connection, May 2017.


In the One-Question Survey this month, Dr. Maria Cahill asked school librarians how much of their budget they spend on foreign language materials. The survey showed that more than 33% don’t buy any foreign language material at all, and more than 50% buy less than 10 titles a years. The comments in the article drew attention to the problem that there simply aren’t many titles available to purchase.

Pick a level (elementary or secondary). Next, pick 10 titles for that audience published last year. Using acquisition sites, research in what languages each of the titles you chose is available for purchase. Write an online discussion post answering the following questions: Which book is available in the most languages? Why do you think that book might have been published in more languages than the others? Why do you think specific books are available in certain languages and not others? Reply to your classmates’ posts with insights and analyze.

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