How to Increase Access to Diverse Books in the Classroom and Community

Learn more about the ways you can expand the use of diverse books in your classroom, school, and community. This article is part of our guide to using diverse books with ELLs.

Image: My Two Border Towns by David Bowles, illustrated by Erika Meza

There are many ways to advocate for the use of diverse books in your school, district, and beyond.

Here are some ideas to help you get started, as well as some resources that can help support your advocacy around diverse books.

Diverse Books in Schools

How can I advocate for the use of more diverse books?

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

In order to advocate for more diverse books, it is important to show the connections and interest to reading that students have shown after engaging with these texts.

  • Find out what your district and state is doing to support culturally responsive instruction. You may find that you can tie your efforts to initiatives that are already in place or that are getting under way.
  • If those initiatives are not yet in place, learn about the research supporting culturally relevant practice to help support your efforts. (This summary from the New America Foundation provides a helpful overview.)
  • Share the conversations and students' enjoyment and engagement with your peers in your building and across the district.
  • Invite administrators and school board members into your classroom to share the work that you and your students are doing.
  • Ask your colleagues if they would like to participate in a book group that introduces new titles of diverse books.

What about reading programs that don't include many diverse books?

It is important to look carefully at your reading program and be ready to look at books beyond the program, even when those programs include diverse texts or offer bilingual books. The books provided by reading programs may just be a translation of English version of the texts, or they may not have different connections to your student population. It's also important to include literature and texts in different genres that connect to the multiple identities represented in your classroom and that can be used in different content areas.

This means each year you may have to make some additions to your book collection given the identities and needs of your particular student population that year. Be creative and follow the lead of your students — and be prepared to continue sharing the research that supports the use of culturally responsive instruction and diverse books in your work to help expand the resources that your students can access in your classroom.

Note: If you think you may need additional support in order to add books into your reading instruction, talk with colleagues about how to approach this shift as a team and collect data that can help pinpoint effective practices around diverse books.

How can I find diverse books to donate to classrooms or at events?

You can often find books for donation for classroom collections or particular events. These articles offer ideas on where to look!



Diverse Books in Communities

How can I advocate for diverse books in my community?

The first step is to find partners. For example, your local bookstore may also be looking for ways to support diverse books. Reach out and find ways to support each other, through purchasing books via the local bookstore, hosting writing celebrations, and inviting the community to attend.

Another idea might be to reach out to your local college or university college of education and see if they might be interested in partnering with your class for reading and writing initiatives — including author visits, book fairs, etc.

In addition, you can ask your local libraries, bookstores, and even big box stores to feature diverse books all throughout the year and be sure to include them in any reading celebrations or holiday events.

Pat Mora: Gathering a Diverse Committee for "Día"

Award-winning author Pat Mora talks about the benefits of having a diverse planning committee for Día de los niños/Día de los libros (Día) book celebrationsand doing things a little differently!


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