Thursday, December 6, 2012

Diverse Books for Diverse Readers in the Classroom

An interesting article about diversity (or lack thereof) of children's lit in classrooms cropped up on the NY Times a few days ago. Speaking directly about young Latino/a readers, the article raises questions about the accessibility of multicultural children's books that speak to a child's particular culture. I've mentioned my own experience in lack of exposure to my cultural background from books as a child, and those reflections along with this article make the issue abundantly clear: the books are out there--they do exist--but their lack of presence in schools makes it all the more difficult for kids to be aware of and seek out those books.

So how to work around that? Well, there are countless diverse blogs for one, you need only run a search to find one you like. But the NY Times has pulled together their own resource as well: Books to match Diverse Readers, a collection of first chapters from diverse books for second to fourth graders highlighting black, Latino, Asian, American Indian or Alaska Native cultures.

Nevertheless, as more books get exposure, our collective awareness and understanding gets stronger too. Authors like Julia Alvarez, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Alma Flor Ada and Gary Soto are familiar, but can we expand that? I personally feel uninformed in many ways, and hope to change that quite soon, if only to be able to recognize authors and identify the wealth of their works in a snap. On a side note, I happened to play a pick-up tennis game with Gary Soto in Berkeley a few years ago (which was totally awesome by the way). I hadn't the slightest clue who he was though until he finally shared with me bit by bit, yikes.


  1. That's a fabulous anecdote about Gary Soto! Did you get all flustered then, or did you play it cool?

    1. I completely forgot about the entire incident until writing this post... I was really flustered! However, I think at one point I tried to convince him to hire me as an assistant of some kind, but alas, he wasn't in need of any help.

      I did go a little easier on him on the court though. ;)