Can we be honest? The books we were glued to as kids the ones with fire-spewing dragons, beautiful damsels in distress, knights in shining armors, and evil witches did shape our young, impressionable minds and influenced how we saw the world.
Such is the power of literature
It’s time to bid goodbye to fairytales for children that are full of stereotypes and unrealistic beauty standards. It’s time that educators understand the potential of literature to change the world as we know it and to help children grow up to be better human beings who treat everyone with equal love and respect.
This will begin with the building of diverse libraries within educational institutions that cater to young learners coming from backgrounds and vibrant cultures.
Why Build A Diverse Library?
Books offer children a glimpse of the world that awaits beyond the immediate spaces they inhabit. With a diverse collection of multicultural books waiting for them in the library, they will be able to find worlds where their identities are accepted; where lived experiences are talked about instead of the perspectives and representations of a particular race or gender, which has been the case throughout history.
Books that reflect a young child’s background and culture belonging to an underrepresented community lead to a sense of belonging. They validate their existence as well as experiences. They remind them that they matter; they feel seen, heard, accepted.
Such books on your shelves also set the foundation for culturally responsive teaching and promote inclusivity within the classroom space.
Cultivates Empathy In Children
While helping children understand their own identities and cultures, diverse classroom libraries also open up a window to the lived experiences and cultures of others. This can be an invaluable exercise that will foster empathy in young learners. And as we know, the 21st-century world is really in need of empathetic, compassionate people.
When children relate with one another and respect each other’s backgrounds and cultures, mutual understanding develops. They understand that every culture is unique in its own ways and that is what makes the world so amazing!
One way to cultivate empathy in children would be to hold a group reading and discussion session. Make the discussions about how the story made each student feel or whether it reminded them of particular life experiences. While being a rich learning experience in itself, it helps them to understand the viewpoints of others and motivates them to foster an open mind.
This kind of culturally responsive teaching goes beyond the four walls of the classroom and helps children to become better leaders of tomorrow, who work together to bring about a positive change in the community they live in for the betterment of all.
Books with diverse groups of characters and written by multicultural writers are valuable additions to your classroom’s library as they help children to evolve into kinder, more compassionate human beings, who connect with others deeply.
If you are planning to get a collection of age-appropriate multicultural books for your classroom library, do browse through Language Lizard’s website today.