When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part.’
“Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors” in 1990
The goal of Diversity Rocks the Book is to empower all kids to see themselves and value others through books and to educate parents and teachers on the importance of bringing diverse books into the home and classroom environment.
The program was inspired by recent national efforts to support diversity in books led by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, Professor Emerita of Education at Ohio State University and grass-roots efforts such as We Need Diverse Books. Both argue that when children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in society.
Diversity Rocks the Book launched in March, 2018. It established 3 main program components: children’s books with diverse main characters donated to city schools and preschools, community volunteers serving as guest readers in the classroom, and resources for parents and teachers. In its first two years, the program has distributed 618 books to public and charter schools within the city and 45 guest readers have visited 60 classrooms and reached more than 1,500 students. The next stage of the program will continue to provide books and guest readers and will focus on expanding outreach and services beyond the city limits and building sustainability for the project.
2020 Book Selections
The DRB project planning team, comprised of local educators, librarians, and service organization representatives, selected five picture books and seven chapter books for this year. In selecting the titles, the committee considered for a wide array of characters, experiences, and points of view. All of the titles were released in 2019.
“It is critically important for all children to see themselves reflected in the books they read,” said Erin Davison, Children’s Librarian at the Herrick District Library and a member of the Diversity Rocks the Book Planning Team. ‘It’s also important for ALL children to read diversely to expose them to the wider world outside of their own experiences.”
Community volunteers serving as Guest Readers and visiting local classrooms is a key component of Diversity Rocks the Book. While the pandemic is preventing us from sending Guest Readers into the schools, we hope to reinstate this project component as soon as schools reopen to visitors. Stay tuned for more details.
The Diversity Rocks the Book has many online training resources available for teachers and parents.
2020 DRB Planning Team
- Carrie Pifer, Vanderbilt Charter Academy
- Zahabia Ahmed-Usmani, Black River Public School
- Amanda Heidema, Herrick District Library
- Erin Davison, Herrick District Library
- Lexi White, Holland Museum
- Becca VanWeerdhuizen, West Ottawa Public Schools
- Megan Koops Fisher, Ready for School
- Esther Fifelski, City of Holland
- Deb Van Duinen, Hope College/Big Read Lakeshore
- Lisa Miller, Grand Valley State University-Meijer Campus
- Heather Eizenga, OAISD
- Gloria Meyer, Holland Public Schools
- LuAnn Kern, City of Holland
- Heidi White, First Presbyterian Preschool
- Michelle Gibbs, Hope College
- TImothy Stark, Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance