#DearScholastic

Childrens Books Infographic 2015

It’s Real World Wednesday and this week we are absolutely overjoyed to feature the 3rd graders in class 301 at the Hamilton Heights School in New York City!

In the fall these students learned about the diversity gap in children’s literature. So, when the December Scholastic Book Club catalog arrived, they decided to count the number of books featuring characters of color. Out of more than 100 books, they counted about 7 that had people of color.

12321232_1673602469596147_1558964926701491010_nThey decided to write letters to Scholastic to tell them how they felt about this, which can be found in the comments below and also on their classroom Blog: http://www.wereaddiversebooks.com/

You can support them by reading, commenting on, and sharing their letters using social media with the hashtag ‪#‎DearScholastic‬

 

Here are a few of their powerful letters:

Dear Scholastic Books,

My opinion is that it is terrible that there is fewer than ten books with people of color. My opinion is correct because how come there are more books about white people and less books about people of color? For example, like what is a person of color wants to read a book that is a mirror book but there is no book about them?

Another reason I feel my opinion is correct is because what if a white person wants to read a diverse book and there is not even a single diverse book. For example like you can’t just read about white people. Also that diverse books can become a mirror book and a window book.

Now I am restating my opinion with enthusiasm! As a mixed kid I would like to read more Asian story books and people of color and white people. And I am saying in my words that pretty pretty please make more books about people of color.

Sincerely,
Maguette

 

Dear Scholastic Books,

My name is Julian. I think that the low people of color books are a problem with your company. By what I mean by that is your company may not like people of color books or something. But I was quite shocked because when I looked in the catalog for a book fair there were less than ten people of color books.

Here is one reason dedicated to people of color books. What if I am in a library only with your books and I want to read a book with Dominican characters but you made NONE. SHAME! SHAME! SHAME! Because white people including me read people of color books to learn about people of color and so on and so forth. But please make diverse books with color.

Sincerely,
Julian

 

Dear Scholastic Books,

My opinion is that DIVERSE books are important . I feel that my opinion is correct because DIVERSE books are awesome. If we have DIVERSE books we can learn different things. I feel that my opinion is correct because its good to read DIVERSE books. Its good to read DIVERSE books because they have different adventures.

Diverse books are important to me, because one book that I read that really has significance to me is Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Springs into Action. Freddie Ramos Springs into Action is important to me because Freddie Ramos teaches me to be good and it also teaches me to help my mom and help anyone in need. Freddie Ramos is a Latino character and that matters to me because I’m Latino too! And there’s not really a lot of Latino catalog books which makes me a little bit sad.

Every time I go to the library, in my mind I’m like “Is there going to be some new Latino books?” But I don’t see any. So I just buy Star Wars books. And there’s one Latino book about Lego Star Wars. And I want to learn more about my country than Star Wars. As you can see DIVERSE books are important.

Sincerely yours,

Kelvin

 

Dear Scholastic Books,

We need diverse books because if we don’t other people won’t be featured. We need diverse books because people would feel bad. People want to buy books with people of color. I want more diverse books because I feel bad for the people and that is why we want more diverse books.

Sincerely,
Jeremy

 

Dear Scholastic Books,

I think that we should have more diverse character books! When I looked at the Scholastic Book Fair catalog I only saw about 7 books with diverse characters, and that is a problem we have to fix! One reason why I want more diverse character books is because I am a very caring person and I don’t want the black people to be sad and disrespected! One way we can fix it is to ask Lee and Low books to write and publish more diverse character books, and this is for a good cause!

One reason is that let’s say you are black you would want a mirror book like when you are reading a book and someone has almost the same life as you! Another reason is because you can make people feel like their life matters in this world. It can also be a good thing and it can be a very good solution because kids and adults too want to feel like they are appreciated! And that’s why you need to step up and be a change maker and give us more diverse books!!!

Sincerely,
Jada

 

Dear Scholastic Books,

In my opinion I believe that we need to change the problem and the problem is that there is more books about white people than diverse characters and it is so not good. We can fix it by stop making books about white people and make more books about different color people and we will catch up so it will be fair for other.

Diverse characters matter because if you were black and you just saw books with white people it is going to be boring! You will want mirror books and also window books at the same time. Mirror books are the same and window books are not the same.

Look there are more than 100 books in your catalog and there is only 10% of the books that have diverse characters. Do you think this is fair? Well for me it’s not fair because there are many kinds of people who are diverse and there is not so many people who are diverse in the books. As you can see I think diverse characters matter!

Sincerely,
Heidi

 

Dear Scholastic Books,

Diverse books are important because people are from different cultures and they want to read of diverse people. It does not matter if they are from diverse cultures, because diverse books matter. What about if people like diverse books just like I do? I like diverse books because they are fun and funny and because I get to know more of diverse books.

Sincerely,
Franchesca

 

Dear Scholastic Books,

We want to have more diverse books because I read Allie’s Basketball Dream and Allie is a Black person and I am a different color. Also we need more diverse books because there is only a lot of [books for] white people and not that many [books for] Black people and we want a lot of [books for] Black people like the white people. That’s why we want to have more diverse books.

Sincerely,
Erik

 

Dear Scholastic Books,

My opinion is that we need more than 10 books about people of color. Diverse books matter to me because they’re special to me and it’s like a gift to the people. They are a gift because you learn about diverse characters. For example, I read a book that has diverse people. The book is called Big Bushy Mustache. For example, this kid likes mustaches because he wants to look like his dad. The kid looks brown. I felt happy when I read a book about somebody that had brown skin. Another thing that I like about Big Bushy Mustache is it has the same culture as mine, because the characters speak Spanish like my parents and me.  My opinion is that we want more diverse books, so please bring more diverse  books.

Sincerely,

Edwin

 

Dear Scholastic Books,

I personally think that you should make more people people of color books. You should put more people of color like me. I’m Latino and I do see like less than 10 books of people of color and for me that’s not fair because you’re showing that you only support white people and Black people and Asians, Latino people need attention. For example, if there’s any Black, Asian, Latino people in your workplace I bet they’re waiting for that moment to make a book with their nationality character book so please make that change NOW! please.

Sincerely,
Antonys

 

Dear Scholastic Books,

I think that in Scholastic Books there are only a little bit of diverse books. This is a problem because black people want to see mirror books and mirror books are like if your life is like the book. So please fix this.

Sincerely,
Amethyst

 

Dear Scholastic Books,

My opinion is that diverse books matter. I feel that my opinion is correct because in some countries people want to read diverse books but the countries don’t have diverse books. For example some people of color want to read a mirror book. I feel my opinion is correct because if me as a Black person wants to read a diverse book and they don’t have diverse books I’ll feel bad. At first I didn’t think diverse books were important, but now I think diverse books are important. I think characters of color matter!

Sincerely,
Amber

If you’ve been inspired by this week’s Real World Wednesday to become a change maker around diversity in children’s literature yourself, here are some tips from Wade Hudson.

 


 

From fear, shame, and silence to courage, love, and voice

This week on our Facebook page we shared links to a number of videos and resources to inspire us to shift from fear, shame, and silence to courage, love, and voice.  Enjoy!

Sunday

“Let me tell you what we think about children. They’re hardwired for struggle when they get here. And when you hold those perfect little babies in your hand, our job is not to say, ‘Look at her, she’s perfect. My job is just to keep her perfect — make sure she makes the tennis team by fifth grade and Yale by seventh.’ That’s not our job. Our job is to look and say, ‘You know what? You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.’ That’s our job.”

Monday

“We spend so much time listening to the things people are saying that we rarely pay attention to the things they don’t”

Tuesday

“the moment I realized something was different about me was the exact same moment that I began conforming and hiding.”

Wednesday

For the full talk, click here.

Thursday

“The most important thing that you’ve got to do is remember the difference between the ‘what they did’ conversation and the ‘what they are’ conversation.”

Friday

“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect.”

from The Transformation of Silence Into Language and Action (excerpt) by Audre Lorde

Saturday

“Each day, my Black skin feels a bit thicker and even more beautiful. I am growing more confident in using my words as a weapon to fight the fear that used to steal my voice on dark days. I am sharpening my tongue, as Black women have done for generations before me, because I refuse to be rendered voiceless in the face of state apparatuses that seek to destroy Black bodies and lives.”

from For Black Girls Who Are Trying To Find Their Voices by Maya S. Zeigler

Real World Wednesdays: Nominate Yourself!

Every week on our Facebook page, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)’s Diversity & Equity Education for Adults Interest Forum features the1237573_1665296367093424_4950231286415187138_n work of an outstanding member of our community to highlight salient “real world” issues at the intersection of early childhood, diversity and equity.  What we learn from these conversations is then posted to our Blog, allowing us to continually build our body of collective wisdom.  We call these segments Real World Wednesdays.

Our growing community is full of so much collective wisdom and experience! Please consider sharing your perspective in an upcoming Real World Wednesday segment.

You can this form to nominate yourself or someone you know:

So I’ve got all these diverse children’s books, now what?

Improving the diversity in children’s literature has been getting a lot of attention over the course of the last few years–and for good reason!  We’ve got a long way to go.  Big shout out to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign and everyone else who’s doing this important work!

diversity_tinakugler

At the same time, there’s a lot more to the conversation about diversity & equity in children’s literature than simply making bookshelves more diverse.  As exemplified by the recent release and then swift recall of A Birthday Cake for George Washington, just because a book features a non-white character doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an anti-bias book.  On this topic, Louise Derman-Sparks has done some fantastic work putting together An Updated Guide for Selecting Anti-Bias Children’s Books, which we’ve turned into the handy tip-sheet below:

Slide04

This webinar, Using an Anti-Bias Lens to Examine Early Childhood Childrens Books in Your Program, hosted by Linda Santora and Cheryl Kilodavis is also a great resource.  And so is this post by Dr. Cathy Gutierrez-Gomez on Tips for Choosing Culturally Appropriate Books & Resources About Native Americans.

2013-11-06 14.00 Using an Anti-Bias Lens to Examine Early Childhood Childrens Books in Your Program by Linda Santora and Cheryl from Engagement Strategies, LLC on Vimeo.

And secondly, we’ve gotta think carefully and critically about what happens when we take our high-quality, diverse, anti-bias children’s literature off the shelf and actually use them in our homes and classrooms.  How do we use these books to create meaningful experiences for young children that open up and support ongoing conversations about diversity and equity?  At the end of the day, we have to remember that while books are amazing resources (we LOVE books!), they do not do the work of anti-bias education for us.  That’s still up to us.  We’ve put together some Dos and Dont’s below.  What would you add to the list?

Slide06

The blog Raising Race Conscious Children also has some great tips and strategies.

And finally, while you might have created your own personal library full of diverse, anti-bias children’s literature, there is still a larger systemic problem that you can (and should!) play a role in addressing.  Check out this fantastic post: Ten Steps to Promote Diversity in Children‘s Literature by Wade Hudson.

Getting Involved in Social Change

Slide1Happy Real World Wednesday! This week we have the pleasure of featuring Susan Ochshorn!!!

Susan is the founder of the consulting firm ECE PolicyWorks and the author of Squandering America’s Future: Why ECE Policy Matters for Equality, Our Economy, and Our Children.  She has served in a number of advisory positions, including on the council of the Early Learning Initiative at the Education Commission of the States. A former journalist, Ochshorn has written for CNN Opinion, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, and other publications. She blogs at the Huffington Post and ECE Policy Matters, the go-to place for early childhood teachers, those who train them, and the decision makers who determine their professional course.

Given her background, we couldn’t wait to ask her: What are some ways that early childhood professionals can get involved in social change?

Here’s her inspirational response:

Hello! Thank you for hosting me. This is an awesome space. I’m talking not only about this interest forum, which has incredible potential. I’m thinking of all you early childhood professionals. You’re part of a renaissance of social activism.

Recent research by NAEYC has found that society’s perceptions are changing—more people have a positive image of those who work with young children and families. Hallelujah! But I don’t have to tell you that the workforce is struggling in real time. The vast majority of early childhood teachers are women, many of them under-educated and living on the margins. The pressures under current education reform policies, rooted in standards-based accountability, are unprecedented, and support, inadequate.

For early educators of color, the lift is heavier still. These teachers NAEYC discovered, were more likely than their white peers to perceive a range of obstacles in pursuing their careers. The litany is long, and familiar: finding a job with adequate pay and benefits; affording the cost and navigating the process of getting a college degree; and understanding the requirements for credentialing and certification. Add lack of training and mentoring, low compensation and herculean work schedules, and limited opportunities for climbing the ladder, and you’ve got a workforce on the short end of equity and social justice.

This profile mirrors that of families and children. Toxic stress and violence are proliferating, along with the growing number of homeless and hungry children. Parents live in a time when the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness butts up against a gap in income on part with that of El Salvador. Our child poverty levels—above 50 percent in Louisiana post-Katrina—put us to shame on the world’s social justice index.

The good news is that growing numbers of caregivers and educators across the nation are raising their voices in unison with other activists within and beyond the early childhood community. The issues of economic, racial, and social inequality, as well as educational inequity have gone main stream. Some of the seeds for collaboration are already taking root on this page (Child Care Fightfor15). Many more organizations, initiatives, and movements are sprouting like mushrooms all over the country, some with state affiliates. Here’s just a handful: EduColor, ColorofChange, Badass Teachers Association, Network for Public Education, Caring Economy Campaign, Economic Justice, United Opt Out, Outdoor Afro, Progressive Education Network.

But don’t for a minute underestimate the power of local advocacy and activism. You need to get into the policy and political weeds, working at the grassroots in your own particular ecosystems. Otherwise, those who know little about children, and are woefully inadequate to the task, end up making big decisions with dangerous repercussions.

Onward!

Posted by ECE PolicyWorks on Friday, December 18, 2015

Opportunities to Advance Racial Equity in the Head Start Performance Standards

From left to right: Megan Madison, Catherine Corr, Katherine Paschall, Deborah Daro, Leah Bartley, Alayna Schreier

From left to right: Megan Madison, Catherine Corr, Katherine Paschall, Deborah Daro, Leah Bartley, Alayna Schreier

This week the Forum’s co-facilitators Megan Madison (far left) and Dr. Catherine Corr (second to left) were busy attending the annual meeting of the Doris Duke Fellowships at Chapin Hall in Chicago. They are part of a small group of emerging scholars focusing on interventions and systems aimed to promote child well-being.

Given their collective expertise and experience with Head Start programs, the group engaged in a rich discussion about the newly proposed Head Start Performance Standards.

On our Facebook page, Katie (Katherine Paschall) shared her thoughts:

Clearly, it is difficult to create regulations and policies for such a diverse group of families, but it is my wish that Head Start programs can continue to be responsive to the needs of their local communities; the strengths of the proposed updates allow for greater flexibility and strength in addressing the needs of vulnerable families, as defined by local communities. The weaknesses are those that threaten the strength of local communities/grantees to deliver the most appropriate program to their community.

From my view, the proposed standards include several commendable and appropriate updates to current enrollment policies, implementation strategies and focuses; the updates guided by research evidence are the clear strengths. For instance, Head Start will open slots to pregnant women experiencing homelessness & foster children, and intentionally incorporate evidence-based strategies for promoting the development of these particularly vulnerable populations.

The largest and most publicized update is the movement from half-day to full-day care, which is a double-edged sword. I am concerned, as are many others, that this will reduce the number of children who can be served, and that this will be an impediment to currently operating programs. I agree with the National Head Start Association that this should be one option, offered with the full support of the Office of Head Start, rather than a mandate.

All in all, the way the standards are written include few mandates, with plenty of “wiggle room” for programs to adapt them to their populations. However, some of that wiggle room can be problematic, such as the de-emphasis on family engagement. I look forward to hearing from my colleagues and am so glad to have the opportunity to publicly comment on these standards!

The group then compiled their thoughts into a formal comment.  All in all, they identified multiple ways in which the revision of these performance standards provided an opportunity to advance equity in early childhood education.  To read the group’s formal comment, click here.

What is the role of early childhood education in fighting racism?

Have you read the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)‘s Early Childhood Education Assembly‘s Statement About the Role of Early Childhood Education and Racism?  You should!

They write:

The Affirmative Action Committee of the ECEA strongly believes that it is through our teaching of young children that we can affect the most change. We believe this because research points out that when we do not explicitly teach anti-racism early, it becomes too easy for a racist consciousness to form in our silence, the same consciousness that tolerates racist acts we see today. This will require much thoughtful examination as we look at ourselves; our curriculum; our beliefs about each other, our students, and their families; and our understandings about the past, the present, and the future. It can be frustrating, challenging, and difficult work, but it is also a privilege and a responsibility.

The complete statement can be found here.