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❶More important than the numbers that we wrote down, were the discussions we had about why book publishers make the decisions that they make about who goes on the covers of our books. There were several challenges in representing this place but few in the observation itself.

Exploring Children's Books Through the Lens of Diversity

8 thoughts on “Part 1–Having Students Analyze Our Classroom Library To See How Diverse It Is”


I learned a new language. I sent money home to my parents. We have excellent public schools in our area, and yet in some of our local communities twenty to thirty percent of adult residents did not complete high school. What interrupted their education? The stories are both unique and similar. Foster care placement gone wrong, parents with mental health or addiction issues, families in crisis who moved children often from school to school.

Drastic family change—such as divorce, imprisonment, or death of a parent—and even the familiar and yet devastating story of a high school culture that taunted or marginalized outsiders. They just need help in getting there. Sometimes, we have to start with small goals. Keeping tutoring appointments and being where you should be—on time and ready to work—can be the first step. If they do have a card, it must be clear of fines. But we work together, and we work it out.

The GED students who come to us often tell us they feel stuck in their lives. They know how limited the job market is for those who lack a high school diploma. They want to move on, to career training programs, college, or better employment opportunities.

Also, as their essays show us, they want to gain the personal and emotional satisfaction of finishing their high school education, for themselves and their families.

A nineteen-year-old GED learner in our program who wrote the essay excerpt that follows worked as a healthcare aide in a nursing home. After her stepfather died, she became injured at work, and was too distraught to sleep. She had trouble leaving the house, and found it hard to talk to people. The two friends saved on gas, were more motivated to study, and helped each other keep their commitment to furthering their education.

The essay topic was: Explain who this person is, why you look up to her or him, and how the person has helped you. My stepfather, who recently passed away, is the person I most look up to in life.

The reason I want to get my GED is because of him. He was a good father. He was upset that I left school. Before he died, he told me that getting my GED was the one thing he wanted from me. He was the one person I could always count on whenever I needed him.

The essay became a five-page eulogy to her stepfather that moved her tutor and myself to tears. Writing about ourselves provides us with an opportunity to give the past a careful onceover. Life happens at warp speed, and often we become lost in the hurry of events, particularly troubling or tragic times that we feel deeply but have no time to understand and process. Our GED students are new to the healing possibilities of writing.

They are uncomfortable with writing. But when the task presents itself, and they are required to focus on an experience, an idea, or a relationship, and explore what it meant to them personally, something unforeseen begins to happen—a learning experience greater than the sum of its parts. A total of twelve to fifteen tutoring pairs work together over the course of a year in our literacy program.

The learning process depends a lot on the ability of tutors to connect with their learners in a supportive yet instructional relationship. Often, the one-on-one attention our tutors offer students is all they need to succeed. We listen carefully to students, ask them to set their own learning goals, and talk through solutions for navigating the obstacles adult learners with jobs and young children face in studying for the GED.

We identify academic gaps and then we find the needed review areas to fill them. As learners progress, they gain new confidence in themselves and their abilities. Adults can receive GED tutoring while their little ones attend our preschool program.

None of this can be done without help from volunteers. But with a trained and dedicated core of volunteers, supported by library resources, much can be accomplished. Families who attend the combined literacy program become very close to CazCares literacy volunteers, and to each other. They cheer each other on. And when a learner passes the GED, we have a party and we celebrate together. For many of the learners, their families are the reason they are pursuing their education.

For me, success is obtaining my GED. The main reason I want to get my GED is my daughter. She is only four now, but someday she will be in high school. You never finished high school. GED tutoring at a food pantry? How is it that a public library has taken on such work? How could the library reach those families? In the area of early literacy, for example, grants were obtained in the past to offer educational programming at the library to low-income preschoolers.

However, those library-based programs had low attendance and did not reach their target audience. That study then begs the question, what if it is the quality of the books that pushes students away from using them, rather than the actual concept of utilizing books?

Perhaps students have given the traditional method of finding information in books a chance, but never felt the information they found to be helpful Miller 8. I notice students constantly occupying the printers. As I sit here writing this I can hear the printer going off what feels like every few seconds. I then hear the click of the stapler to bind together the wad of papers that were recently printed, and I feel that this can attest to the revolution of modern technology.

While there are more students on the computers than there are next to the bookshelves, the library as a whole does not have that many people in it for such a prime study night. As I look around, I do not see many people. I look over the door every now and then to see if it will swing open and let someone through but it does not very frequently do so.

As a matter of fact, with the exception of the printer sounding off and the small sound of keys being punched on the keyboard, it appears to be almost silent. It would appear evident that students are studying back at their dorm or apartment. But why not come to the library where you have access to so many more resources? The invention of the laptop was so hard-hitting because of how convenient it was and is. The owner of a laptop has the freedom to take it anywhere and be able to use it, and even access the internet wherever there is Wi-Fi.

These new things being invented make it almost unnecessary to leave the comfort of your own home to do any type of research. It eliminates the better half of all students who have their own laptop or e-reader from ever making a routine trip to the library out of the interest of merely wanting to study. The students who do not have, or cannot afford laptops or e-readers will by default have to make frequent trips to the libraries to get their studies done. I question why there are so few people here in this library, but I feel that the oncoming revolution of mobile technology is a reasonable explanation for it.

On a Wednesday at around 6: Although there were not as many people in the library as I expected, I was able to get a clear understanding on the way students interact with each other, and how students interacted with the library, by utilizing its resources.

An hour spent in the library merely observing things has given me a lot of insight, along with the research I have acquired about college libraries. As a freshman in college being a part of a campus library for the first time in my life, I did not witness the changes of a college library from now and five years ago, but from the research I have found regarding the demographics of the library, I feel the concept of a college library is either dying off or changing even more drastically within the next decade.

The abundant supply of books along with the library as a whole appear that they will potentially become obsolete with so much new technology among us, and the ease of taking technology with you wherever you may go. If libraries do manage to stick around for decades to come, I feel that they will be much different looking, and will take on a whole different regime of resources, more than likely one that is predominately technology based.

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