Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Book Selection
Carefully selecting books that promote equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) is part of practicing a core competency from the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) (2020): “Demonstrates respect for diversity and inclusion of cultural values, and continually develops cultural awareness and works to address implicit bias in order to provide inclusive and equitable service to diverse populations.” ALSC uses explanations of equity, diversity, and inclusion from the American Library Association’s Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services (2017) which explains that equity “means increasing diversity by ameliorating conditions of disadvantaged groups,” diversity means “the sum of the ways that people are both alike and different,” and “[i]nclusion means an environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully.”
When you share books that promote EDI, you give children opportunities to experience books as both mirrors and windows (Bishop, 1990). Children deserve the opportunity to experience books as mirrors reflecting their cultural and ethnic backgrounds, family structures, abilities, and religious beliefs (Bishop, 1990). Experiencing books as mirrors may increase children’s interest in reading, reading comprehension, and self-esteem (Bulatowicz, 2017; Husband, 2018, Winkler 2015; Wopperer, 2011). Equally important, children can experience books as windows into the lives of people outside of their immediate community (Bishop, 1990), teaching them to understand, appreciate, and celebrate difference (Al-Hazza and Butcher 2008; Dyches et al., 2018; Van Horn, 2015) while helping them to build empathy and cultural consciousness (Ishizuka, 2018; Winkler, 2015). Children as young as 3 years old have been found to both express and act on stereotypes and prejudices, and activities that involve reading picturebooks have been shown to help even young children combat stereotypes and prejudices (Gonzalez, Steele, & Baron, 2017; Husband, 2018).
Book Content with a School Readiness Focus
Selecting high-quality books is an often-cited first step in preparing a storytime session (Diamant-Cohen & Hetrick, 2014, Ghoting & Martin-Diaz, 2006; Kociubuk & Campana, 2019), and many storytime providers turn to free, though informal, online resources such as librarians’ blogs to aid their selection. Therefore, it is helpful to investigate these resources to determine if their recommendations are in line with research-based best practices for book content that promotes school readiness. Researchers have found children’s learning grows in areas of school readiness, especially early literacy, as they are read informational texts (Kociubuk & Campana, 2019) or books with academic content such as alphabet knowledge and math concepts (Thoren, 2016).