Hive, I'm not going to lie. My heart has been so heavy and broken lately over the events surrounding the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. I'm not going to write a long post about it because I don't believe this is the place to do so, but I will say that what saddens me most is that these terrible events have shown that we, as a country, have really not come as far along as we had thought when it comes to race relations and understanding racial issues. It has been horrifying to see and hear some of the things people have shared and said in the aftermath. And while, yes, many of those remarks come from places of ignorance and lack of understanding and exposure, we can't just perpetuate the cycle of ignorance and ignore it.
As a teacher educating some of the youngest members of our society, I feel it's my duty to help my students understand one another and understand that ALL lives matter. I hope that when they leave my classroom, they are not only better readers and writers, but are also more caring citizens of the world. Thankfully, our school is amazingly diverse. Our students really can learn about diversity from each other and in many ways, it becomes second nature to them. However, I know that this is not the case in many schools across our country and it really does take a lot more effort to teach students in such schools about race and diversity. And I know that in communities and neighborhoods that are not very diverse, it might be hard for parents to talk and teach about race in a real and meaningful way. That's where I think children's books can make a huge impact.
I recently read an article about how characters in children’s books are almost always white and the fact that it's a big problem. I could not agree more with the writer. I even wrote a blog post about it and shared some of my favorite books about race and multiculturalism. I thought it was time, in light of recent events to share more titles that feature diverse characters. This time around, though, I wanted to focus on books that feature children of color where the culture or race of the character is not the central idea of the book. I wanted to share titles where children weren't necessarily used to explain diversity or to be a face for a cause. While those books are absolutely crucial, I strongly believe that they need to be balanced with other books that show diverse characters as protagonists in "normal" stories that children would love to listen to for the sake of a good story. I believe that such titles truly emphasize that all lives DO matter and they are worth being portrayed in great literature. This can help children see the value in every life, no matter how different those lives might look from our own.
I promised I wouldn't be long, but I couldn't help myself...so, without further ado, here are some of my favorite picks: