Friday, May 29, 2020

100 Picture Books Including Black People and Communities & Why You Need Them

*Update 6/5/2020: After seeing tweets from several Black educators/ authors/ scholars about the need to promote Black voices first and foremost in any work right now, it made me reconsider this list. Upon reflecting on my initial process for adding titles I recognize that it was a mistake to put together a list like this at this time for this purpose without consideration of who created the book. Although I considered positive representation of the characters and families, I should also have considered the representation of the creators. I have removed the 21 books from the original list that were from non-Black authors/illustrators. I have replaced those titles with new selections from Black authors and/or illustrators with the same focus on joyful everyday experiences instead of oppression. I did leave books that have Black illustrators even if a non-Black author or a Black author with a non-Black illustrator. The additions begin after Hey, Black Child.

*Edited 6/4/2020 to include links to additional recommendation lists from Black librarians and other BIPOC created recommendation lists I saw after publishing mine. Though my original purpose in this list was to speak more directly to non-Black educators, I want to be sure to also amplify Black and BIPOC voices for you to follow. They appear before the start of my list.
Black Lives Matter - Home | Facebook
When the news comes out about things in this country that shatters hearts, & we see Black people bleeding their pain onto the screen in the hope that it will get through to white folx, it shows that we white folx have so much more work yet to do. It is work that doesn't ever stop, but if you haven't even started yet... what the hell are you waiting for? Lives are at stake. And it's going to take all of us to do this work.

Because Black Lives Matter. 

We have to stand next to our Black colleagues and those we learn from and bear witness to what they share. And then we have to act. We have to do the work, the internal work, to do and be better. Because standing by should not be an option. As Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi make clear in STAMPED: RACSIM, ANTI-RACISM, AND YOU, if you're not being anti-racist, by definition you are being racist. Read the book as your starting point and then share and discuss with the kids in your life.

Because Black Lives Matter. 

White women especially, we have work to do. When we know that calling the police on a Black man can lead to his death, and when we hear stories like those that come out over and over and over and over and over and over and over again about the fear Black people in this country live with, sometimes it's hard to feel like you know what to do. But there is one thing we can always do - and that is consider how, in our role as educators, we can impact belief systems that start when kids are young. 

Because Black Lives Matter. 

What can we do as white educators? What can we do as educators to lean in to anti-racist practices? It starts with doing the internal work necessary to acknowledge & break down biases and stereotypes & catch ourselves heading into the kind of thinking that leads to Black people being killed. And Black children being killed. Consider how your actions in the school building might be perpetuating racism. Consider what Christina Torres reminds us of: we need to check our own biases or we are perpetuating systems of oppression.

We look at the systemic racism and oppression that leads to white people walking up to steps carrying weapons and allowed to peacefully protest having to stay at home while Black communities get tear gas and riot gear. If you're more concerned about Colin Kaepernick's knee than that police officer's, you have serious work to do on gaining a deeper understanding of systemic oppression. We can grow in our anti-racist practices and understanding of these systems through books & resources that educate us. This link intended for white parents, that also applies to white educators (shared by Brittany Packnett Cunningham on twitter), could be a good starting point. And this site, Opportunities for White People in the Fight for Racial Justice supports a deeper understanding of how to move from actor through ally to accomplice.

Because Black Lives Matter. 

But what about in an elementary school? First, we have to understand that it starts young! And we need to reflect on how we act toward Black boys, in particular, as Dr. Kim Parker shared in this open letter, and the impact that has on developing beliefs about self and toward others. This is the time when kids are learning about others & growing opinions and developing their stances. We can't avoid it just because they are young - we have to start here

Because Black Lives Matter. 

And it starts with humanizing Black people. Edith Campbell shares scholarship around the history of depicting Black people as simians and what that does to perpetuate stereotypes. Something that embedded doesn't just stay in historical times. We have to read that research and listen to it and reflect on it and sharpen our own critical lenses and understand how it plays out in the books we share with kids at an impressionable age. We have to know it so we can see it and work to find stories that humanize Black people instead of perpetuating a view of them being less than human. 

Because Black Lives Matter. 

We have to know that if we only share stories about oppression & struggle, that is the singular story that kids begin to internalize about Black people (if you don't already know Chimamanda Adichie's TED Talk about the "Danger of a Single Story" you should). In 1990 Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop coined the theory of mirrors, windows, & sliding glass doors which you likely know. But have you really considered all of what she was saying?
"Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self- affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.” 
It matters desperately for Black kids to see mirrors of themselves in books in positive, joyful ways. Bishop further points out, "When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part." But do you also know and acknowledge this part of her piece? 
"Children from dominant social groups have always found their mirrors in books, but they, too, have suffered from the lack of availability of books about others. They need the books as windows onto reality, not just on imaginary worlds. They need books that will help them understand the multicultural nature of the world they live in... In this country, where racism is still one of the major unresolved social problems... If they see only reflections of themselves, they will grow up with an exaggerated sense of their own importance and value in the world"
Because it's equally vital that white kids see windows into the lives, communities, & humanity of Black people. 

Because Black Lives Matter. 

So we are obligated to do more. We have to show Black Girl Magic & Black Boy Joy. We have to celebrate Black people (and not just in February). We have to show everyday stories of Black people. We have to show pride in Black peoples' stories. We have to show the joyfulness and strength in Black communities. We have to honor Black people and communities. We have to do this in our curriculum and through the books we choose to share. 

Because Black Lives Matter. 

Over the past days, my mind kept returning to how educators have the ability to use books in response to current events. To pull picture books off the shelf right now to read with kids to show love for Black students & for other students to see that love. Because as children's book author/illustrator Christian Robinson points out, "When children see themselves and their experiences reflected in books, they are being sent a message that their story matters and that they matter." And they need to be seen in all of wholeness of all of their humanity. So we need to reach for those books that will remind Black kids in our classrooms the beauty within their skin. Those books that will remind other kids of the wholeness of their humanity. Those books that can impact hearts & minds. It's one thing I know I can do. It's one thing you can do, too. 

Because Black Lives Matter.
And they have to matter to all of us.

*Before getting to my list, I want to give a shoutout to two Black librarians who I greatly admire who have shared their own lists of books (for all levels, not just picture books)!

Edith Campbell - Books for Black Children - Edi "selected titles that Black parents, caregivers and teachers can use to help Black children to feel safe, to embrace their blackness and become better able to talk about and confront racism."

Alia Jones - Black Joy Booklist for Children and Young Adults - Alia " highlighted some books in our Library collection that affirm Black childhood and encourage Black youth to dream, speak up, and get started on the path towards liberation. "

*And also share more BIPOC-created recommendation lists:
Sujei Lugo Vázquez & Alia Jones partnered to create this incredible Black Lives Matter Reading List for Children

Brittany, a Black educator, shared a thread of Children's Books that Discuss Race & Racism

Karina Yan Glaser, Chinese-American author, shared a thread of 100 Must-Read Children's Books by African-American Creators.

100 Picture Books Including Black People & Communities
Shop this list at Bookshop to support independent bookstores!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

#classroombookaday Summer 2020 Learning Opportunities

With no nErDcamps or conferences this summer, and likely into fall, I'll be missing several of my typical chances to share #classroombooakday with educators. So I've decided to offer some virtual options. The good thing is this gives everyone the opportunity to learn, not just those who are in the same physical space as me! 

There are two different sessions offered in June & repeated in July. 
#classroombookaday101 (June 23 OR July 22)
& a brand-new session I'm creating after school gets out that I'm eager to plan
Going Deeper with #classroombookaday: The Power of Critical Selection (June 24 OR July 23)
  • Sessions will be live via Zoom. Link will be sent the morning of the session and will be recorded for those unable to attend at the live time.
  • Recording link will be shared with those who registered after the session. Disclaimer: Link is provided for the sole use of the individual who registered & will only be available until the Sunday after the session.
  • Sessions will be 75-90 minutes depending upon length of Q&A at the end.

There is a registration fee (discounted if you register for both sessions) to help support my work and ability to offer other sessions for free. I'm hoping (assuming things go according to plan) to also offer a booktalk session with #cbadspotlight reveal as a free session later this summer & possibly a live Q&A virtual session at some point.
Sign up for one, or both, through the widget below. Or visit to register. 

Friday, May 1, 2020

#classroombookaday Recommendations: You Do You - Picture Books Supporting Identity

Each month of this school year I am getting a chance to share a themed list of 20 recommended picture book titles for #CLASSROOMBOOKADAY read alouds in partnership with Follett Classroom. Each booklist is accompanied by a blog post explaining more in depth my thoughts in creating the list and why I chose those specific titles.

One of the great parts of this partnership is that my recommendation lists are also being saved in Titlewave which allows them to be easily found and shared with librarians for purchasing for school libraries!

My May list is in the spirit of You Do You & Identity! 
[Please visit this link to read the accompanying blog post]
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You can also find all of my posts & lists I've done with Follett at my landing page