Do you do storytime? Do you teach? Do you have an interest in picture books?
I need your help.
We know that there is a huge dearth of books written by and for multicultural audiences. Smarter, more qualified people than I are writing excellent articles and bringing amazingly thoughtful discussions into being around this sensitive subject. I've struggled to figure out what my role is in promoting diversity. What do I, another person from the privileged majority, have to contribute? I want to be an ally, but I want to make sure that I'm respectful of the fullness of experiences I do not and cannot understand.
Having said that, I don't want to do nothing. Something that I can do, and that I challenge you to do too, is working to make sure that we are using diverse books in storytime. My frustration with doing that, however, is that those books are hard to find. Learning about other countries and cultures is SO important, but my focus in storytime is not on teaching intellectual concepts, and I don't want to contribute to anyone's sense of otherness. I want storytime to reflect the lives that my kids are living here and now. Bedtime books, loose tooth books, new baby books. I want books that feature diverse characters telling the stories that are universal. But those books are hard to discover in our library catalogs even when they are there.
So that's what the Everyday Diversity project is about: creating a resource of books reflecting "everyday" diversity, and highlighting those that are appropriate for storytime.
Everyday Diversity books:
1. Predominately feature diverse main characters--no tokenism.
2. Are, "Loose tooth books." That is, the storylines are not about race, religion, ability, or cultures.
3. Are, by nature, often ambiguous. Finding them requires close looking and open interpretations. We might get it wrong sometimes, but I think the benefits of the project outweigh the risk of misstep.
The Everyday Diversity project does not minimize the real need for education about race, history, social equality, and injustice. It does not mean to take a stand that we are past racism or any such idealism. The Everyday Diversity project is about filling a small but important need within the larger issues. More and more I get parents looking for books that are "everyday stories" featuring diverse characters, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. I'd like to create a resource for answering those questions.
My goals for the project are:
1. To create searchable database of books with storytime theme suggestions.
2. In-depth reviews of great storytime books that feature Everyday Diversity.
We are working hard to get this project launched, and it will include a way for you to submit Everyday Diversity books that you find or already love.
For more information about the project, email EverydayDiversity at gmail, and watch this space for the upcoming launch.