Friday, October 23, 2009

Easy Readers for people of color?

During the summer when the branch was full of young children and parents looking for summer reading titles, I noticed something. There were very few "easy-reader" type books on my shelves that featured children of color. Late in August, when I took a course in Reading Instruction and Children's Books, I discovered from that my colleagues from around the country had noticed the same thing; while there are great children's authors in every culture, many cultures and ethnicities are underrepresented in the "easy reader" market.

I mentioned this to our collections department. Our children's selector got on the job immediately - and found that the choices are not great; however, she was able to quickly provide me with several titles from Picture Window Books, a division of Capstone Press. The books are part of a Read-It! Readers series, The Life of Max, beginning readers featuring a young African American boy, Max. The books don't have the stellar story lines of other series, like Cork and Fuzz or Elephant and Piggie, but they're an alternative. I particularly liked Max Goes to the Library because it also busts a gender myth - the librarian is a man. :)

I'm going to check out the offerings of Lee and Low's, Bebop Books. They might be just what I'm looking for. In the meantime, children in my diverse community can now find Max on my easy reader shelves.

Of course, any book can be enjoyed by any person of any race or ethnicity, but I believe that it's probably nice to see a familiar face on the shelves of your local library.

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