Day of Diversity Panel 2: Literacy Programming

This blog is in reference to the Day of Diversity symposium.  For background, click here.

Literacy Programming:  Forming Partnerships and Sharing Resources (Panel)

Pat Mora, Author, Founder of Dia de los libros

  • Link:  Dia de los libros
  • Pat Mora shared her thoughts on the need for a diverse publishing system — a system that librarians understand the inner workings of and can use to their advantage.  Her model for this diverse system is:
  • Publishers > Editors>Marketing & Publicity Directors > Book Reviewers > Award Committees > Distributors > Our Partners:  Families/Librarians/Teachers
  • The relationships between publishers and us and everyone inbetween is all a power relationship.  How can we get some power back for the sake of our kids?  How can we share the power?  We can start answering these questions once we realize that Children’s Publishing (and publishing in general) is a business.  These people aren’t being altruistic and although they may have the best of intentions, they are still worrying about the bottom line and depending on where you are on the power spectrum, you may not always have final say, even if you do have those good intentions.
  • Mora said that our partners are ALL families – not just those that come in or those that speak English.  We need to reach out
  • In reality, all books are multicultural books, but the way our history is told tells a different story — one of marginalization and power.  And we need to address these issues for children and adults.
  • Mora ended with “If we don’t have a nation of readers, we cannot have democracy”

Maureen Costello, Teaching Tolerance First

  • Make no assumptions that educators know how to match books with children (or even know that they should)
  • Majority of educators are over 50, white, female, teaching for 15+ years — Why is this important? – many people choose books based on what THEY like, rather than what the kids will like.  Or, when educators are concerned, they don’t change their curriculum for years and years.
  • Another issue:  Teachers using Core Curriculum Appendix B as a reading list, rather than examples

Deborah B. Ford, Junior Library Guild’s Director of Library Outreach

Practical Tips

  • Make a list and check it twice
  • Step outside yourself
  • Consider all aspects
  • Remember your audience

Are the people you’re inviting in to speak, etc. diverse too?

JLG We Need Diversity Pinterest Board (


Marketing Diversity — She discussed trainings/webinars offered by JLG on various issues (not just for Children’s Librarians, but can be applied to all levels of librarianship), that I would like to do more research on (– maybe ideas for Staff Development Day?)

Irania Macias Patterson

  • Need intercultural exchange/communication – should be for everyone to share, not just one sided.  That’s how exoticism and people feeling like “white” is not a culture occurs
  • Are you a facilitator, marketer, liaison?  Who is doing what?  Make sure everyone involved in putting books in kids hands and providing programming have a designated role
  • Clearly define your partnerships and decide who is doing what so that your organization doesn’t end up doing everything. — Make sure it’s a 2-way partnership
  • Communication goes beyond words and into action
  • Literacy is about meaningful communication

Amy Koester, Skokie Library


Arts and Sciences are avatars of human creativity – mae Jemison

Early and often – its not about aptitude – needs to start in pre-school

Make it culturally relevant – take pictures of food at home – what shape is it?

Local museums, zoos, aquariums, gardens, clubs, local businesses, community organizations, steam professionals/students

Michelle Leo, VP, Director of Education & Library… S&S — resource available

No Name Calling Week – GLSEN

Don’t hesitate to send feedback to the publishers

Display/Passive Programming Idea:  Match the author with their book to show off authors of color –  that anyone can be a writer and include Kid’s favorites like Dork Diaries and Diary of a Wimpy Kid!

Breakout Session

After the panel, I facilitated a breakout session of about 6 people which included the Author Sharon Draper (Out of My Mind) !!!

We discussed the role of the librarian in creating partnerships and programming to help our patrons build citizenship, compassion, and empathy (a 21st century skill).  We also focused on ways librarians can feel more empowered in caring for the needs of their community and empowered to seek out those resources that will help.  Our last topic of conversation included training for all librarians.  Some thoughts from my group included:

  • Getting to the humanity of ALL people, not just the privileged and the ones in our doors
  • READ the books.  Be familiar with the books so you’re making the right connections
  • Don’t rely just on “Lazy” lists
  • Know that reviews don’t encompass everything that’s out there.  For instance, Publishers Weekly requires payment for books to be reviewed.  Small publishers (like Cinco Punto Press) have a hard time getting stuff in
  • Connect with your local and national authors.  Many of them will speak for free or just ask that you pay for travel (Like Sharon Draper!!)
  • Take note of which perspective you are sharing in another language — are you only buying translated classics (aka sharing the same majority perspective in a minority language?) or are you also buying materials that reflect the person’s experience in their dominant language?
  • Kids look for similarities, not differences and they will find the similarities.
  • Tap into the world of parents through the PTA, School Board, etc.
  • Learn how the publishing process works
  • Spanish/Language 101 of your community
  • Outreach when possible to places like food pantries, community gardens, etc.
  • Work with the school district
  • See everything as an evolving
  • Learn how to talk to power — we need to start this in library school — that way we know we have more power than we think we do as librarians — stereotypes no more!
  • Have your elevator speech READY!
  • Initiate a partnership with anyone and everyone
  • You are a marketer too
  • Let’s make some Librarians posters (like READ posters, but for becoming a librarian — this is more of an ALA/National Level things, but might be cool too on a local level)
  • Change the conversation to what you need it to say
  • Don’t underestimate yourself and what you can do
  • Help coordinate the community of authors.

One thought on “Day of Diversity Panel 2: Literacy Programming

  1. Pingback: First Up on the Agenda: Let’s Talk About Diversity | Lessa Librarian

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