Books for teaching diversity, unity, and addressing controversy
I’m trying to crawl my way out of an Interwebs rabbit hole this afternoon. I tumbled in pretty deep while researching an upcoming presentation on teaching controversial topics in the classroom.
And it’s impossible at this point to try and reconstruct the paths I’ve gone down. But basic in a nutshell . . . I got distracted by the huge number of fiction and non-fiction resources that started turning up that seemed perfect for supporting instructional designs focused on conversations on race, immigration, or gender.
So the rabbit hole was not completely unrelated. It’s all still stuff connected to my original topic – though somehow I did end up landing on the FiveThirtyEight polling page and the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium Through My Eyes YouTube video.
I also ran across a few belief statements from New York’s Bank Street College of Education that align perfectly with why teaching controversial issues is so important.
What potentialities in human beings – children, teachers, and ourselves – do we want to see develop?
- . . . gentleness combined with justice in passing judgments on other human beings.
- The courage to work, unafraid and efficiently, in a world of new needs, new problems, and new ideas.
How cool is that? As a big believer in the power of books to connect emotion and content, I love how these statements support the power of fiction and non-fiction in the social studies.
So I figured that I might as well share some of what I found, starting with a few of the books I ran across and then a list of lists. A quick warning, allow yourself some time for browsing – you may be here a while:
- Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practical Guide to K-12 Anti-Racist, Multicultural Education and Staff Development by Enid Lee
- Rac(e)ing to Class: Confronting Poverty and Race in Schools and Classrooms by H. Richard Milner
- For White Folks Who Teach In the Hood by Christopher Emdin
- Slavery by Another Name by Douglas Blackmon
- March Trilogy by John Lewis
- Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools by Monique Morris
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women by Charleyboy & Leatherdale
- The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu
- Citizen by Claudia Rankine
- Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali
- We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future by Deepa Iyer
I also ran across a number of lists that provide even more options:
- The Bank Street Children’s Book Committee, the Bank Street College Library, and the School Library Journal got together and developed this list intended to be a starting place to help you create a supportive space to explore these issues and help promote an inclusive, democratic, and just society.
- The School Library Journal also put together a list they titled Love in Action: Children’s Literature to Promote Hope and Counter Fear that can support your work in “fostering classroom conversations that build compassion and empathy and work toward activism.”
- Where to Find Diverse Books by a group called We Need Diverse Books.
- The Skokie Public Library in Illinois created this booklist to offer people of all ages opportunities to dig deeper into the topic of immigration – through fiction and nonfiction – with accounts of historical and contemporary immigration to the United States.
- The group Social Justice Books curated more than 50 lists of multicultural and social justice books in a variety of topics for children, young adults, and educators.
- The Anti-Defamation League says that “Books matter. Books have the potential to create lasting impressions. They have the power to instill empathy, affirm children’s sense of self, teach about others, transport to new places and inspire actions on behalf of social justice.” Use this searchable list to find what you’re looking for.
I’ll be posting more next week highlighting what I found about using these and other resources to support conversations and learning around controversial topics. Check back then.
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Glenn is a curriculum and tech integration specialist, speaker, and blogger with a passion for technology and social studies. He delivers engaging professional learning across the country with a focus on consulting, presentations, and keynotes. Find out more about Glenn and how you might learn together by going to his Speaking and Consulting page.