My son is 9 years old and just wrapping up an amazing 4th grade year. Last month, his wonderful teacher said to me, “Wow, I’d love to get more diverse books on our students’ bookshelves.” Now, most people at the school know I work in publishing but it’s possible they don’t know how important diversity is to me. My response to the teacher was, “I can help with that.”
I told this story on twitter and here’s the follow up…
First, I went to the We Need Diverse Books website and did my research. The teacher asked specifically for contemporary stories (not historical or fantasy), for 4th grade readers, set in another country (not set in the USA). 4th graders are reading everything from Troy Cummings wonderful NOTEBOOK OF DOOM series to Veronica Roth’s DIVERGENT so there was quite a range of books to consider. I created a list of potential titles that met her requests and offered to buy any of them for her to read. Then, I offered to sponsor one book for the class and encourage other parents to sponsor additional books (sponsor meaning buy 10 copies for the classroom) Here is the list:
BAMBOO PEOPLE by Mitali Perkins
THE TURTLE OF OMAN by Naomi Shihab Nye
EXTRA CREDIT by Andrew Clements
MY HAVANA by Rosemary Wells and Secundino Fernandez
ABUELA’S WEAVE by Omar Casteneda and Enrique Sanchez
SERAPHINA’S PROMISE by Ann Berg
SUMMER OF THE MARIPOSAS by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
THE THING ABOUT LUCK by Cynthia Kadohata
WORDS IN THE DUST by Trent Reedy
THE RED PENCIL by Andrea Davis Pinkney
She chose THE RED PENCIL so 10 copies were delivered to the classroom last week. There is just enough time in the school year to add this title to the curriculum for 4th grade – I can’t wait to hear what the kids think!
A few lessons here. Diversity is alive and vibrant and important! Teachers are thinking about diversity and there are amazing, wonderful, thoughtful, beautifully-crafted books to recommend. The We Need Diverse Books campaign is working!
The school year is rapidly approaching its close. Consider donating books or bookstore gift certificates to your kids’ classrooms and libraries. Remember to support local! My books were purchased at The Bookies – a legendary Denver children’s bookstore. Ask the teacher, “what do you need” and don’t be afraid to bring in a list of recommended titles to meet their requirements. If anyone wants to donate books to my son’s classroom, tweet me @SaraMegibow – or consider donating to your own neighborhood school.
Cheers all around to a Diversity Success Story!