Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Book Selection
The lack of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the 160 books used in the 68 storytime sessions we observed was surprising and troubling. Out of the 55 books that depicted a person or people as the main character or nonfiction subject, only two (or 3.6%) portrayed a character from a parallel population. For the category of the book, only three were coded as social conscience (1.9%) and two as culturally conscious (1.3%), which is significant because books in these categories are more likely to promote the benefits of reading diverse books explained above. This set of 160 books were non-inclusive with none that featured a character with a chronic illness, one that featured a leading character with a cognitive difference, and seven that depicted characters with eyeglasses. Books that depicted diverse religious traditions and languages were similarly limited or missing.
Book Content with a School Readiness Focus
Textual analysis of the random sampling of 429 recommended books revealed that animals was the most frequent topic and fiction was the most frequent genre. Other prevalent topics identified in the findings include social life (represented by words such as friendship, family, mother, and parent), learning concepts (represented by words such as alphabet, letter, count, and color), and activities (represented by words such as play, swim, dance, and discover). For emotional aspects, we found far more positive terms (such as like, love, perfect, fun, and favorite) than negative terms (such as tired, trouble, and fear). This indicates books for children are primarily aimed at creating an enjoyable experience while sometimes giving children opportunities to learn about negative emotions.