Libraries play an essential role in connecting people to a diverse and inclusive world of reading!
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To celebrate #LibrariesWeek, we were very lucky that fantastic school librarian, Anne Thompson (A Library Lady), kindly shared a few words with us about the importance of children having access to diverse and inclusive books in libraries! Read what she had to say below.
Libraries have a vital role in the community they serve; they have the power to enable knowledge and understanding and to facilitate change. Librarians therefore have a professional responsibility to ensure that they use this opportunity wisely.
School libraries are often seen as both a haven and a place of learning for pupils and to be successful they need to be seen to welcome all pupils and maintain a stock of books which represents every aspect of society. For a school library to be truly inclusive it must cater for all its users and recognise issues that may affect them. The school librarian is able to promote the voices that may have been underrepresented in literature in the past. The books available in the library should be both diverse and inclusive, featuring experiences and characters from a wide range of backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities and religions in addition to taking into account gender, orientation and disability.
In my early years as a school librarian this was more difficult to achieve but steadily over the years there has been an increased awareness and now publishers such as Tiny Owl are producing books that make it easier for librarians, teachers and parents. We all know that children need to see themselves in books for many reasons and this begins at the earliest age. However it is important for school libraries to not only represent their own particular community but to also open the eyes of its users to the wider world and to people who may be different to themselves. In this way libraries can broaden children’s understanding, nurturing both knowledge and acceptance and creating a bridge between them and those they may view as different.
Librarians are often, understandably, asked to recommend books and armed with knowledge of diverse and inclusive titles they can encourage choices beyond the predictable and already widely used to those that may be more representative of society. If libraries produce relevant and diverse booklists, maintain displays of inclusive books and communicate with users all year round and not only to mark special days and promotions it can make a difference.
When a school library is inclusive and recognises diversity in its collection it sends a positive message to children. They will learn that all people are of value and this will do much to nurture empathy and understanding.
Chair Surrey Branch School Library Association
Read some of Anne’s fantastic reviews of Tiny Owl books below!
- Last is a book for our world today – A Library Lady
- Felix After the Rain will help children who might feel overwhelmed by recent events – A Library Lady
- Young children will be reassured by Bloom – A Library Lady
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