Category: Diversity and Inclusion

July 4, 2021 by Becki Last 0 Comments

Friendship Starts with Kindness: 5 Books For Your Home or Classroom Library

Friends

Do you remember how you met your childhood best friend? Not where or when you met them, but how you met them?

Did you bond over a favorite crayon or say “hi” at the swings? Maybe they invited you to their lunch table in the cafeteria? As with any relationship, friendships start with kindness.

Where do children learn these important life lessons?

Children mimic what they see IRL, but books are also a great resource to help model important qualities of friendship like kindness, compassion, generosity, and self-esteem.

First Book’s mission focuses on educator support to provide equal access to education; however, many of our resources also support families. Our guides and resources support a variety of topics, including friendship and emotional development. These books would be a great addition to a classroom or home library.

First Book's Friendship Book Picks

To celebrate July’s Big Heart World Friendship theme, our title selection team has hand-picked five picture books that are ideal for children in pre-kindergarten through second grade.

Eligible educators, supporting Title I schools and organizations, can shop this collection on our Marketplace for brand-new books at a reduced cost. Families can shop these titles and support First Book through Bookshop.org.

Friendship Starts With Kindness!

June 2, 2021 by Makeda Mays Green 3 Comments

How to Reintegrate Kids into A Diverse Post-Pandemic World

Makeda Spaking

The Covid-19 pandemic unleashed a global health crisis and exposed racial disparities, which, in many ways, heightened ongoing conversations about the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Now — after an unprecedented year marked by physical distancing and social unrest — parents are wondering how to effectively help their children return to a sense of “normalcy” and reconnect with others. As parents work to support this return, what’s “normal” has shifted: the national discussion of what matters is significantly different from pre-pandemic.

According to a recent social discourse analysis that my team and I conducted at Nickelodeon, concerns about children’s social and emotional health during Covid-19 is the second leading topic of conversation among parents of 2- to 5-year-old children (more than 130% higher than last year). This topic is only eclipsed by diversity (which grew by 2022% year over year), with an emphasis from parents on what they can do to raise awareness. That is not a typo — parents’ conversation about diversity has grown by more than two thousand percent.

Helping Children Leave the Family Bubble and Build Diverse Relationships

With the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement and a growing national focus on bias against the Asian American and Pacific Islander and Jewish communities, parents flocked online in the past year to learn more about how to raise their children to be more racially sensitive and accepting. Our research showed that white parents, in particular, are invested in ways to teach their children about racial diversity. Parents of color, meanwhile, are invested in looking for resources that showcase empowering portrayals of people who look like them.

Overall, parents across racial and ethnic groups are expressing a general interest in helping their kids develop healthy relationships with diverse individuals. As families physically isolated during the pandemic, kids spent more time with people of shared backgrounds and perspectives. As social restrictions now begin to lift around the country (albeit at different rates), parents say they are looking for rich opportunities to foster inclusivity and celebrate similarities and differences.  

Black Lives Matter
Help Your Kids Get Ready to Rejoin Our Diverse World

Based on my experience as a researcher and a mom, here are five ways to support children’s social and emotional development and help to reintegrate them into the diverse world in which we live:

  1. Try meals from different cultures

Visit ethnically diverse restaurants, or search for recipes of meals typically served in different countries to try authentic cuisine inspired by culinary traditions from around the world.

  1. Visit cultural museums

Take trips to local and national museums that introduce children to cultural icons and influences. For example, consider visiting the National Museum of African-American Music in Nashville, TN, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center in Washington, D.C. or the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, CA. (If you’re still visiting museums virtually, there are many ways to explore art and culture online. Google Arts & Culture is a great place to start.)

  1. Read diverse books

Visit the library and select a variety of material (e.g., graphic novels, comic books, fiction, and nonfiction) about people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives to give children a well-rounded view of the many people and places that make up our world. First Book is sharing tips with Big Heart World on how to build a more diverse and inclusive home or classroom library and is sharing some titles that you might consider

  1. Attend art festivals

Spend time at outdoor festivals to experience paintings, sculptures, music, and dances that celebrate different cultural events and traditions.

  1. Support international kids’ film festivals

Attend kids’ film festivals that feature uplifting storylines and empowering portrayals of diverse characters, including BIPOC leads, in short and long-form films. If there aren’t any kids’ film festivals near you, curate your own at home using titles from other recent kids’ film festivals like this.

Children Reading
June 2, 2021 by Becki Last 0 Comments

First Book Tips for Building a Diverse and Inclusive Home or Classroom Library

Reading Together

The end of the school year and the start of summer is a great time to spruce up your bookshelf and evaluate if your home or classroom library celebrates and explores different identities and lived experiences. 

Sprucing up the books on your shelves can create welcoming environments for learning. If you’re in a classroom, that means you’re welcoming ALL students to develop self-awareness, confidence, and pride. If you’re at home, you’ll help your child learn about the similarities, differences, and expand his or her appreciation of others. 

Britt Hawthorne, an anti-bias, anti-racist educator, writes that these questions can help to evaluate a library: “Who is being recognized, represented, and affirmed? Who is being ignored, silenced, and pushed out?” She says “library evaluation” is an important annual activity  that ensures titles are inclusive and represent ideas that help teachers, parents, and caregivers facilitate important conversations about similarities, differences, friendship, race, upstanding, and more. 

Evaluating Your Bookshelf

Many educators in First Book’s Network have shared how they turn bookshelf evaluation into a full classroom activity, allowing students to choose books that appeal to them. Parents can conduct the same activity and ask their children to find books that highlight similarities and differences between people.

When we listen to children, we can more easily spot gaps in the stories on our bookshelves and adjust to fill those gaps. 

For educators who are still in a primarily virtual classroom, you can evaluate your bookshelf independently using tips from FirstBook’s Empowering Educators: Guidebook on Race & Racism. On pages 29-31, you’ll find recommendations for using an anti-bias and antiracist approach to selecting books.

Explore the Storyline

Sprucing up your bookshelf is not a pass or fail test for a book collection. Of course, you should strongly consider removing books that perpetuate harmful stereotypes or invisibility. But there are many fine books that you might consider removing if they don’t contribute to the right overall mix of stories. 

  1. Here are some questions you might consider asking as you evaluate the books in your home or classroom library:Does a single story or narrative about a group dominate? For example, books that feature Indigenous or Native American people should include more than folktales from the past, and books that feature African Americans should include more than stories about overcoming oppression.
  2. Do we have stories that take place in different geographical settings?
  3. Do I have books that celebrate different religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, nonreligious traditions, etc.)?
  4. Do we have books with main characters from different countries?
  5. Do we have books about Black, Indigenous, or people of color that promote self-love and joy?
  6. Do we have books that include a variety of family structures, e.g., nuclear families, blended families, multigenerational families, single-parent families, same-sex-parent families, and childless families, etc.

Please note: If you’re at HOME and not at a school, it’s good to know your gaps so you can think about books to consider buying or checking out of the library in the future. 

Start Cleaning and Restocking Your Bookshelf

As with any sort of clean-up process, getting started is the hardest part. You can do it!

Once you’ve cleared your bookshelf and you’re ready to shop for new, more inclusive, anti-racist titles, eligible educators can visit the Marketplace to discover diversity and inclusion titles as part of FirstBook’s Stories for All Project™. To help you get started, we’ve identified five special edition books educators teaching in Title I schools and programs can add at a reduced cost. (Learn more about these on our list of book recommendations.) 

  1. Bilal Cooks Daal, written by Aisha Saeed and illustrated by Anoosha Syed
  2. Mommy’s Khimar, written by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and illustrated by Ebony Glenn
  3. Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story, written by Kevin Noble Maillard and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
  4. Drawn Together, written by Minh Lê and illustrated by Dan Santat
  5. Alma and How She Got Her Name, written by Juana Martinez-Neal (also available in Spanish)

You can also shop by culture, religion, special needs, language, and more. FirstBook’s collection is designed to help educators engage students in effective, courageous conversations about race and social justice. 

If you aren’t an eligible educator teaching in a Title I school or program, you can still purchase these titles while supporting First Book through our Bookshop store, with 10% of your order donated directly to First Book. You can also explore more featured titles and collections via our other Bookshop collections.

FirstBook

Founded in Washington, D.C., in 1992 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit social enterprise, First Book is a leader in the educational equity field. Over its 29-year history, First Book has distributed more than 200 million books and educational resources, with a retail value of more than $2 billion. First Book believes education offers children in need the best path out of poverty. First Book breaks down barriers to quality education by providing its Network of more than 500,000 registered teachers, librarians, after school program leaders, and others serving children in need with millions of free and affordable new, high-quality books, educational resources, and basic needs items through the award-winning First Book Marketplace nonprofit eCommerce site. The First Book Network comprises the largest and fastest-growing community of formal and informal educators serving children in need.

For more information, visit firstbook.org or follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter.