Five tips to make school bookshelves more diverse and five books to get you started



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Children need to be able to see themselves in the books they read.
Cockburn Libraries/flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Helen Joanne Adam, Edith Cowan University

A lack of diverse books is failing children from minority backgrounds. This is something that should concern all Australians.

I studied five Australian early learning settings and found less than 5% of books contained cultural diversity. My more recent findings show educators are struggling to use books in ways that promote intercultural understandings.




Read more:
Eight Australian picture books that celebrate family diversity


Diverse books can help achieve principles of diversity written into Australian education polices. The potential of diverse books in addressing these principles and equity more generally is too important to ignore.

How books impact little readers socially and academically

Reading to children has a powerful impact on their academic and intellectual development. Children learn about themselves and the world through the books they’re exposed to. Importantly, children can learn understanding and respect for themselves and for those who are different to them.

The majority of children’s books depict white main characters.
Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash, CC BY

But a lack of diverse books means we have a serious problem. Currently, children from minority backgrounds rarely see themselves reflected in the books they’re exposed to. Research over the last two decades shows the world presented in children’s books is overwhelmingly white, male and middle class.

For children from minority groups, this can lead to a sense of exclusion. This can then impact on their sense of identity and on their educational and social outcomes.

Stereotypes and misrepresentation

The evidence regarding Indigenous groups across the world is even more alarming. Research shows these groups are rarely represented. And, if represented at all, are most likely to be represented in stereotypical or outdated ways.

Many educators or adults unwittingly promote stereotypical, outdated or exotic views of minority groups. This can damage the outcomes for children from those groups. Children from dominant cultural groups can view themselves as “normal” and “others” as different.




Read more:
How children’s picturebooks can disrupt existing language hierarchies


In my recent study, I found the book collections in early childhood settings were overwhelmingly monocultural. Less than 5% of the books contained any characters who were not white. And in those few books, the minority group characters played a background role to a white main character.

Particularly concerning was the lack of representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Of 2,377 books, there were only two books available to children that contained Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander characters. Only one of these was a story book.

In this book, the Aboriginal character was portrayed as a semi-naked person playing a didgeridoo in the outback. There were no books showing actual everyday lifestyles or views of Aboriginal people.

Teachers are uncertain

The accompanying practice of teachers may also be counterproductive to achieving equitable outcomes for children from minority backgrounds. The teachers in my study were keen and committed to the children in their care. They were passionate about the importance of reading to children. But when it came to selecting books, they struggled to know what books to select and how best to use them.

Teachers also need support to learn how to select diverse books.
from http://www.shutterstock.com

Other research has found similar uncertainty among teachers. Some teachers overlooked the importance of diversity altogether. Some saw diversity as a special extra to address occasionally rather than an essential part of everyday practice.

How can we make bookshelves more diverse?

The call for more diverse booksfor children is gaining momentum around the world. The value of diverse books for children’s educational, social and emotional outcomes is of interest to all.

The voices of Aboriginal and minority group writers calling for change are gaining momentum. But there is still much to be done.

The recent development of a database from the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literacy is an important step. Publications of diverse books are still very much in the minority but some awareness and promotion of diverse books is increasing.

These important steps forward could be supported with better training for teachers and increased discussion among those who write, publish and source books for children. Here are five tips to help you build a more diverse book collection.



The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Educators and parents can strive to create libraries of inclusive books. This can ensure every child has the opportunity to achieve the substantial benefits we know books can bring. Here are five book titles to get you started on building a more diverse collection of books.



The Conversation, CC BY-ND

When we share diverse books with children, they gain opportunities to see themselves reflected and affirmed. Importantly we broaden children’s perspectives and understandings of those that are different to themselves.




Read more:
Telling the real story: diversity in young adult literature


This supports children to value others as unique and equal individuals.
Inclusive book collections which depict and affirm a diverse range of children, will contribute to equitable outcomes for all children.The Conversation

Helen Joanne Adam, Lecturer in Literacy Education and Children’s Literature, Edith Cowan University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Libraries in the Digital Age


The link below is to an article and infographic that takes a look at libraries in the digital age.

For more visit:
https://ebookfriendly.com/what-role-libraries-librarians-digital-age-infographic/

Technology hasn’t killed public libraries – it’s inspired them to transform and stay relevant



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The State Library in Victoria illustrates that libraries are so much more than just places that contain books.
from shutterstock.com

Danielle Wyatt, University of Melbourne and Dale Leorke, University of Tampere

In 2017, archaeologists discovered the ruins of the oldest public library in Cologne, Germany. The building may have housed up to 20,000 scrolls, and dates back to the Roman era in the second century. When literacy was restricted to a tiny elite, this library was open to the public. Located in the centre of the city in the marketplace, it sat at the heart of public life.

We may romanticise the library filled with ancient books; an institution dedicated to the interior life of the mind. But the Cologne discovery tells us something else. It suggests libraries may have meant something more to cities and their inhabitants than being just repositories of the printed word.




Read more:
State libraries need our support and participation to survive



Contemporary public libraries tell us this too. Membership has generally declined or flat-lined, but people are now using libraries for more than borrowing books. Children come to play video games or complete homework assignments together. People go to hear lectures and musical performances, or attend craft workshops and book clubs.

Libraries have become vital for the marginalised, such as the homeless, to access essential government services such as Centrelink, and to stay connected. They have become defacto providers of basic digital literacy training – such as how to use an iPad or access an eGov account. Others cater to tech-enthusiasts offering advanced courses on coding or robotics in purpose-built spaces and laboratories.

We do romanticise libraries as being repositories of ancient knowledge.
Clarisse Meyer/Unsplash

Yet the future of Australia’s public libraries is unfolding according to a contradictory, double narrative. One-off funding for “feature” libraries built by star architects exists in parallel with cuts and closures of libraries on the margins. In Victoria’s city of Geelong, for example, three regional libraries on the city’s periphery faced closure scarcely a year after the opening of the A$45m Geelong Library and Heritage Centre.

Part of the reason for this is that the expanded contribution of libraries to our communities and cities isn’t recognised at higher levels of government.




Read more:
Has the library outlived its usefulness in the age of Internet? You’d be surprised


How libraries are changing

In the early 2000s, as archives shifted online, futurists predicted an imminent death to public libraries. But the threat of obsolescence made libraries take proactive steps to remain relevant in a digital world. They thought creatively about how to translate services they have always offered – universal access to information – into new formats.

Libraries digitised their collections and networked their catalogues, exponentially extending the range of materials users could access. They introduced e-books and e-readers to read them with. They mounted screens to watch movies or to play video games.

They also installed computers crucial to that 14% of the population who don’t have access to the internet at home. And they wired up their spaces with free WiFi, retrofitting extra power-points so users could plug in their own devices.

Libraries have a lot of programs around technology and the use of computers.
from shutterstock.com

Besides offering new technologies and services, libraries offer people a welcoming, safe space to gather without the pressure to spend money. Investing in attractive, versatile furnishings, they have actively encouraged people to dwell in their spaces, whether this is to read a newspaper, complete a job application online, or to study.

In an age where communication technologies create both efficiency as well as forms of isolation, such spaces assume a renewed social importance.




Read more:
Friday essay: why libraries can and must change


How libraries shape the city

As vital as libraries are to individuals, their value is also connected to broader civic agendas. Libraries have deliberately sought to change perceptions of themselves from spaces of collection to spaces of creation. Some, such as the State Library of Victoria, see themselves facilitating creativity not only in an artistic sense, but also as entrepreneurial hubs for start-ups and budding innovators.

Public libraries have promoted their relevance to cities by strategically aligning themselves with government visions of economic growth. For instance, the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre was a signature investment in Geelong’s Digital Strategy, promoted as a “platform” to build “digital capacity” and a visible symbol of the city’s transition to a digital future.

Others, such as Dandenong library in Victoria, attract high levels of funding as part of urban renewal projects aimed at revitalising declining urban precincts.

These high-profile libraries, usually in urban centres, overshadow the uncertain fate of smaller libraries on the periphery, fighting to stay viable due to insufficient funding.

The Geelong Library and Heritage Centre cost millions of dollars to build, while three local libraries lost funding.
from shutterstock.com

This contradiction is occurring because provisioning for libraries is not embedded at high levels of urban planning and policy making. There is no nationally consistent model for allocating funds between the states and local government. Nor is there a consistent framework across Australia for evaluating library performance.

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The Conversation

Critically and most revealingly, libraries are evaluated based on traditional metrics, such as loan and membership numbers, capturing only a fraction of the full value they contribute to our individual and collective life. Failure to recognise this by governments and policymakers puts at risk the diverse and nuanced ways libraries might shape Australia’s future.

Danielle Wyatt, Research Fellow, University of Melbourne and Dale Leorke, Postdoctoral researcher, University of Tampere

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Amazon Should Replace Libraries?


The links below are to articles reporting on a controversy concerning a suggestion that Amazon should replace libraries.

For more visit:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jul/23/twaddle-librarians-respond-to-suggestion-amazon-should-replace-libraries
https://the-digital-reader.com/2018/07/22/amazon-books-should-replace-local-libraries-and-other-publisher-serving-solutions/

Acquiring Books for the World’s Libraries


The link below is to an article that takes a look at the history of book acquisition for the world’s libraries throughout history.

For more visit:
https://lithub.com/acquiring-books-for-the-greatest-libraries-in-the-world/

Essays On Air: Why libraries can and must change



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The much heralded ‘death of the book’ has nothing to do with the death of reading or writing. It is about a radical transformation in reading practices.
Marcella Cheng/NY-CC-BD, CC BY-NC-ND

Sunanda Creagh, The Conversation

In the age of the globalisation of everything – and the privatisation of everything else – libraries can and must change. In fact, it’s already underway, as new technologies take books and libraries to places that are, as yet, unimaginable.

That’s what we’re unpacking today on Essays On Air, where we bring you fascinating long form essays in audio form.

Today, Camilla Nelson, Associate Professor of Writing at the University of Notre Dame, reads her essay, titled Why libraries can and must change.

Nelson takes us from the ancient Library of Alexandria to the New York Public Library and explores the problems that arise when books are excluded, destroyed, censored and forgotten. And, indeed, when libraries are decimated.

Join us as we read to you here at Essays On Air, a podcast from The Conversation.

Find us and subscribe in Apple Podcasts, in Pocket Casts or wherever you get your podcasts.

Additional audio

Snow by David Szesztay

Big chain by daveincamas

Traffic noise in the street by jcgd2

Automatic door by Kyodon

Kids Birthday Party Crowd by jakobthiesen

Cardboard burning by Rare Mess Recordings

Plunger-pop by Quistard

environment 1st floor by mariiao2

Moderate waves on the edge of a river by Duophonic

breaking objects by deleted_user_3667256

Vacuum cleaner, by InspectorJ

Morning docks by nathanaellentz

Tearing paper by ScreamStudio

Shhh Sounds by AryaNotStark

Best Bernard Black Moments, Black Books by Channel 4

Ye Olde Green Inn by MAT64

Robo Hobo by The Freeharmonic Orchestra

The ConversationThis episode was edited by Jenni Henderson. Illustration by Marcella Cheng.

Sunanda Creagh, Head of Digital Storytelling, The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.