UW-Madison School of Education - In the Media

School of Education "In the Media"

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Education Week notes research of CCBC in report on teachers pushing for books with more diversity

July 16, 2019
Education Week recently noted the research of the Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) in an article headlined, "Teachers push for books with more diversity, fewer stereotypes."

The CCBC is housed within the UW-Madison School of Education. it publishes an annual report tracking the number of children's books by and about people of color and from First/Native Nations. the center started tracking these numbers in 1985, documenting them in their annual best books listing, "CCBC Choices" publication. Today, the CCBC also maintains a web page devoted to multicultural literature, including lists of recommended titles by age group.

The Education Week report starts in a fifth grade classroom in Illinois, where teacher Jess Lifshitz explains that while more teachers are putting diverse books in the classrooms, they don't go further than that. 

Boston University professor Laura Jiménez tells Education Week that "just having them on the shelf does not ... do that teaching or unlearning of the stereotypes that we are barraged with all the time." In response to this, educators are beginning to examine the composition of their classroom libraries and the stories that their books tell, asking students to examine the stereotypes they hold as readers. 

In 2018, according to the CCBC, 11 percent pf children's books published in the United States featured main characters who were African or African American, about 9 percent were about Asian-Americans or Pacific Islanders, about 7 percent featured Latino main characters, and only 1 percent were about native peoples. Another study cited by Education Week, from the American Indian's in Children's Literature blog, found that children's books about native peoples are often set in the past, perpetuating the idea that they don't exist anymore. 

Lifshitz will often ask her students to think critically about the kinds of stories books are telling, explaining that if she doesn't "give them tools to recognize (stereotypes), having books in (her) classroom isn't really doing much to change how they're reading outside of the classroom."

Read the Education Week report here
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