Welcome to this latest attempt to connect librarians from west-central Wisconsin with each other! Please send in content (booklists, ideas, photos, etc.), and comment on posts so we can help each other. If you were using feedmyinbox to get new posts sent to you before, you'll need to switch to another service (blogtrottr works like feedmyinbox, googlereader is a good blog-reader to try).

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Diversity in Books for Youth

Unless it is about the latest blockbuster film, weighty information about literature for teens and children doesn't always make its way into popular media.  But CNN, Entertainment Weekly, and several other mainstream publications have been running articles about the lack of racial diversity in books for young people.  Thanks to stellar statistics kept by our own Cooperative Children's Book Center, folks are standing up and taking notice of the fact that children's books are looking...well, they are looking as white as ever.  For instance, out of 3,200 books published last year, only 61 had significant Asian/Pacific or Asian/Pacific American content.  Depressingly little change since Nancy Larrick's groundbreaking 1965 article in the Saturday Review, "The All-White World of Children's Books."

A couple of weeks ago, a school librarian colleague and I took a road trip to UW LaCrosse's Murphy Library to hear author Mitali Perkins talking about diversity in books for young people.  It was terrific to hear her, she had many astute things to say about her own life and writing, and the issues facing teachers, librarians, students and publishers.  She is smart, engaging and very accessible.  Here are 10 Tips for Writers and Readers that she discussed at the talk. 

Another relevant story I want to pass on to you, fabulous librarians is:

There are many ways that kids will find windows (into the wide, wide world) and mirrors (reflections of themselves) in books. Mitali Perkins described a letter she got from a girl in rural Iowa who really identified with the main character in her novel Rickshaw Girl, about a girl seeking a micro-credit loan in Bangladesh.  This  farm kid recognized her step mother's controlling nature in a character that the protagonist has to deal with.  Now this girl has the benefit of expanding her own worldview, while also seeing her own experience validated in print.  Perkins advocated for librarians and teachers to recommend stories to kids by emphasizing the mirrors they will find, no matter the setting or race of the protagonist.

One of the ways to improve the variety on the horizon is to increase demand.  And perhaps one way librarians can do this is by recommending existing titles for a broad range of reasons.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Libraries Doing Good Stuff

I'm in charge of content for the YSS Blog this month, which means I've been collecting great posts from some of the librarians in our system who are YSS members.  In case you don't follow that blog, I want to draw your attention to a few posts from this month so far:

Creative Learning Center Invites Play in Amery about Amery's new early literacy play area

All Aboard the Literacy Train about a literacy fun night in Chippewa Falls

Props for Cool Props Workshop about a storytelling prop workshop Eau Claire held for area daycare providers  (the link for this one isn't working right now, but it is April 11's post).