When the editors of School Library Journal started planning this diversity-themed issue, we had big ambitions. We wanted to address the complexity of our diverse society and the role of schools and libraries in serving children and their families.
Guided by executive editor Kathy Ishizuka, the group brainstormed coverage anchored by the ongoing need for more diverse representation in books published for children and teens. In “Childrens Books: Still an All-White World?,” Kathleen T. Horning, director of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, reflects on how far we’ve come—and how far we have yet to go—to find and produce stories that accurately reflect our world—and where librarians fit in as key buyers of multicultural literature. We expand the conversation to include insights from publishers and authors (see “The Publishing Perspective on Diversity” and “The Multiracial Population Is Growing, But Kid Lit Isn’t Keeping Up”), along with practical guidance for librarians and teachers.
SLJ’s editors dove into the pool of recent reviews to surface relevant, engaging new titles that act as either “windows” or “mirrors”—inspired by Rudine Sims Bishop’s concept first framed in her Shadows and Substance: Afro-American Experience in Contemporary Children’s Literature (NCTE, 1982). The list is a great resource and a testament to the excellent publishing in this arena. A tool in the right hands can make an impact, and, as media specialist Crystal Brunelle points out in her pragmatic and simply inspiring piece, “Everyday Diversity: A Teacher Librarian Offers Practical Tips to Make a Difference,” we each have the ability to expose our children to diverse content.
Indeed, we all have the responsibility to make our schools and libraries more compassionate, nurturing environments where all kids can thrive.
The coverage here expands to the many places in which awareness of diversity makes a critical difference across our libraries and schools, such as examples of how professionals are responding with programs to address inequities—be it for girls and technology (see “SisOps: Girl-Friendly Tech Programs”) or being a safe place for kids as they consider ideas about sexuality (see “LGBTQ & You: How to Support Your Students”).
The Diversity Issue highlights the big, overarching discussions, but the work of addressing these topics is ongoing. So, too, is our commitment to help move the needle in this important endeavor. Please tell us what you are doing in this arena, and let us know what you need. SLJ has long been dedicated to diversity, and our coverage will continue well beyond this issue and into the months and years ahead.
Rebecca T. Miller