Listen, Act, Create Change
Quarantine has allowed the time and proximity to read, watch, and discuss current events with my family. We can support the Black Lives Matter movement together in different ways based on our different talents. Mine is focused on books. In This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell, she explains, “Anti-racism is actively working against racism,” which can mean making a commitment to speak up against unjust conversations, attitudes, and policies. Of course, there are other avenues which people can educate themselves and gain understanding – there are many resources people can use today. Using this time to support BIPOC businesses is one way to uplift their voices in your community.
5 Ways to Take Action with Books
Here are five ways people can take action and support Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) children’s authors:
- Support We Need Diverse Books, a non-profit organization that advocates change in the publishing industry to promote literatures reflecting the lives of all young people. You can find all sorts of resources on their website, including a “Where to find diverse books” list.
- Teachers, read more on your own (see WNDB link above) and make a commitment to use BIPOC books in your classroom. I’ve included a list of books below that I’ve read (and I’ll continue to update). Take action with your administrators and push for curriculum changes.
- Build your knowledge about anti-racism. Take time to listen to others’ perspectives. One of the best events I saw was the #KidLit Rally for Black Lives hosted by the Brown Bookshelf.
- Support your local bookstores and buy directly from them. Or you order online from Bookshop.org a place that financially supports independent books stores. I used their map page and found they support two local independent book stores in our area!
- “Speak up” about BIPOC books you’ve enjoyed reading and write reviews for them on the various sites like Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, the book publisher’s page, etc. Every review helps the algorithms bring the book into the “feed” more often so readers can become aware of these diverse authors and their work.
I hope this “take action” list is helpful.
My Story with Books
You know, I was not a great reader when I was young and I certainly wasn’t reading literature with main characters who were like me. And, I haven’t read any story that tackled issues that happened in my life while growing up…until now.
When I was in college learning to be a teacher, we were aware of a lack of diverse characters in stories and we were guided to look for “multi-cultural” materials to use with our students. It was a good start, but I see now it was more of a “checklist” to use. As my teaching years progressed, I collected a diverse selection of picture books to use in my classroom. And although, it was challenging to incorporate these stories into the curriculum requirements for English Language Arts at grade 6, I was determined to read books outloud from diverse authors and figure out a way to use the content with my students as much as I could. I consider myself a life-long learner and now as an author, my goal is to write stories that inspire and give hope. At the moment, my stories lean toward telling veteran’s stories, but I have plans to write about other ideas in our history as well as caring for our Earth, Unci Maka. (I was a science teacher, too.)
And, I continue to learn… I’m currently reading Making a Difference – a memoir by Activist Ada Deer. If you have a good book to share, please place it in the comment section of this post.
Thank You for Using Your Talents
In closing, I wanted to say thank you to those who have acted and used their talents to take action in other ways… and continue to do so. Thank you for inspiring us to create positive change. Be safe and be well.
My List of Diverse and/or Own Voices Books
(These are books that I own and have access to during quarantine. I’ll update the list as I read more in the future)
This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell (MG through adult)
Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome (middle grade or MG)
Indian No More by Charlene Willing Mcmanis and Traci Sorell (MG)
Talking Leaves by Joseph Bruchac (MG/young adult or YA)
Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo (YA/adult memoir)
Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome (picturebook of PB)
Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park (MG)
You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith (PB)
Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard (PB)
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer (PB)
Voice of Freedom, Fannie Lou Hamer by Carole Boston Weatherford (PB)
Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson (PB)
Indian Shoes by Cynthia Leitich Smith (chapter book)
Heart and Soul, The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson (MG/YA)
One Shadow on the Wall by Leah Henderson (YA)
Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code by Joseph Bruchac (PB)
Mamie on the Mound by Leah Henderson (PB)
The Sock Thief by Ana Crespo (PB)
We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom (PB)
Jingle Dancer by Cynthian Leitich Smith (PB)
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell (PB)
Greet the Dawn, The Lakota Way by S.D. Nelson (PB)
Bowwow Powwow by Brenda J. Child (PB)
Wild Berries by Julie Flett (PB)