One day, Husband and I had some kids come to live with us. They were bright kids and they loved learning, particularly about history. We read out loud to them every day from picture and chapter books, fiction and non-fiction. But we found that their knowledge of African American history was limited to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks.
Summer was coming up and a lot more free time for reading. So I decided to get some books and read one non-fiction picture book about African-American people and history every day for a month. I owned a few already and friends helped by buying books or passing books along.
During the months before summer, the project grew and grew. I became known for buying diverse books at the local used bookstore. I decided to incorporate coloring pages and build the month around a frame of two books. We ended up with over a hundred books and still I kept seeking out new ones. Chapter books got involved because the kids would often ask questions I couldn’t answer. Life got in the way and instead of spending a month on this project we spent the whole summer. We enjoyed reading about some people so much that we read longer books about them. We reread a few favorites.
Suddenly the school year was starting again and I began studying the books in the school library with new scrutiny. I started asking my friends about the books in their homes and classrooms, or the books they had read growing up. The books I chose for read-aloud had predominately white characters! Not a single teacher or parent I met had any intention to be less inclusive in their reading. Most were not even aware that their media was so biased. They simply chose the books they saw and liked or those the students requested, and they weren’t seeing very many diverse books.
At the same time, some people were asking about the project we did. Some wanted to recreate the project for themselves in February, while others wanted to know which books we enjoyed most or which I would recommend for their home or classroom. Hence this blog. I hope you find it useful.