Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Monday, October 25, 2010


Inherent in the Read for Your Life platform of National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Katherine Paterson is a message of learning and acceptance. Katherine has said, “I want people to be reading about children of other places and other races and religions,” she said. “I think novels are a wonderful way to do that because you get in somebody else’s psyche and you see things quite differently than the way you see things simply through your own eyes.” By promoting diversity through books and bringing those books to the attention of young people, we can help our children accept differences in others and embrace the differences in themselves. 

Amy Bowllan, teacher and Director of Diversity at the Hewitt School in New York City hosted a symposium earlier this month to explore the issue of diversity in books. Amy takes initiative where others do not and explores critical issues in Bowllan's Blog so it is not surprising that she brought together teachers and librarians from different schools in the city for A Conversation About Books. I was fascinated by the way attendees answered the question, What is the greatest challenge incorporating diverse material into your schools? Answers ranged from lack of material to difficulty authenticating the experience described in the material to getting children to take out books that reflect their own culture to getting students to read beyond their comfort boundaries. Clearly, this is a dialog that is just getting started and a dialog parents, caregivers, teachers, librarians, authors and publishers, not to mention children, have a stake in. Kudos to Amy Bowllan. I'm looking forward to continuing this conversation. In the meantime, I hope you'll consider reading the following books with your children:

The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan & Peter Sis,
which presents a fictionalized biography of Nobel Prize winning poet, Pablo Neruda;

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia,
one of this year's National Book Award Young People's Literature finalists.

1 comment:

  1. Okay...this is a second attempt at trying posting my thanks to you, Robin, for supporting my symposium. Words are not enough! :)

    Your blog is a wonderful resource for ANYONE is interested in promoting reading and literacy. It has a global connectedness that is needed for today's learners. And do know, I have learned a tremendous amount from you and for that I am grateful beyond words. :)