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28 February 2016 @ 06:54 pm
Remember the children  
I think kids have incredible power. We see that power in our day to day interactions with kids. They see something wrong, and many work to address it. Witness Marley Dias (http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/02/26/467969663/wheres-the-color-in-kids-lit-ask-the-girl-with-1-000-books-and-counting) who wondered why the books she was reading focused on boys and dogs. Where were the black girls in books? Marley made it her goal to go out and find these books. She donated them to her school with enough "extra" books to donate to other schools. Marley is not the only young person to make a difference. Check out Phillip Hoose's THEY MADE A DIFFERENCE, CLAUDETTE COLVIN: TWICE TOWARD JUSTICE, and IT'S OUR WORLD, TOO. All books speak about the power of kids who are determined to address problems.

These are kids who acted on their own initiative. As educators, we can support them, provide the assistance they might need. But we have to take care that we do not direct their efforts. We can present them with problems that need addressing. But there is a fine line between assisting, supporting kids in their efforts and almost pushing them in a direction based on something we believe to be important.

Calling educators to have their kids write letters for a campaign designed by adults is something that rankles me. I am trying my best to understand the nature of this effort. It focuses on a worthwhile goal--a call for more diversity in books. However, the focus on a single publisher is a red flag for me. Diversity should be the focus of all publishers. I turn to the work of CCBC in compiling stats about diversity in books; I turn to the survey completed by Lee & Low about the lack of diversity in the publishing world as well. This is a place to begin. Where we head from here is up to us as individuals. I am presenting as many sessions as I can about diverse books and the need for more diversity. I will support diverse books with purchases. If folks want to write letters, fine. But this impetus needs to come from the letter writers, not from an organization, not from outside.

Keeping kids at the center of what we do is essential.
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