For many years, the Southern Poverty Law Center has been providing information and resources to educators that will help them guide students in exploring and enacting social justice in the classroom, school, community, and world. As a long-time supporter of their work, I was so pleased to open the Fall issue of Teaching Tolerance Magazine to find an article featuring the role of librarians in “boosting cultural responsiveness” in schools.
In the article, Joe Hansen talks about the need for diversity in children’s literature. He cites librarian educator Jamie Naidoo and concludes what the research shows. Children and youth who never see themselves/their culture in print suffer emotionally and developmentally (20). Wisconsin school librarian Crystal Brunelle shares how she met her community’s needs for books that portray diverse cultures and are written in non-English languages. She describes the benefit of diversity to everyone in the school community.
Mr. Hansen notes: “Some librarians also take on instructional roles, working closely with teachers to incorporate culturally responsive materials into the curriculum” (22). This level of collaboration helps ensure that the diverse resources of the library are integrated into teachers’ teaching and students’ learning and are not only an add-on to core curriculum.
Classroom teacher – school/public librarian instructional partnerships can also help librarians contribute to a whole school/community culture of social justice. This helps students, educators, and families affirm the rights and responsibilities to practice cultural competence and make it central to the social and academic program of the school. (Of course, this begins with librarians’ and educators’ self-knowledge about the biases and stereotypes they hold and increasing their own cultural competence.)
Changing the perception of what librarians bring to the teaching, learning, and social justice table is also addressed in the article. This article and the accompanying toolkit is a call to action and great news for school and public librarians. I hope you will make time to read the article and use the “Check It Out! Toolkit,” which is designed to help students increase their understanding of what libraries and librarians can contribute to their learning.
Speaking of librarians in the news, on Thursday I will share my response to author Daniel Levitin’s keynote at Library Journal/School Library Journal The Digital Shift: Libraries @the Center Virtual Conference. Come back for more good news about librarianship!
Hansen, Joe. Check It Out! Fall 2014. Teaching Tolerance Magazine. Web. 6 Oct. 2014. <http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-48-fall-2014/check-it-out> .
Image from Judi Moreillon’s Personal Collection
Southern Poverty Law Center. Check It Out Toolkit. Tolerance.org. Web. 6 Oct. 2014. <http://www.tolerance.org/check-it-out>.