By: Dr. Christina Dorr
Books are mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Who coined this phrase? Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, OSU professor emeritus, leading voice in the studies of diverse literature, award-winning professional, and one of my former committee members during my Ph.D. work at OSU. She’s the one that helped me understand all those years ago, that children and teens need to first see themselves, second see others, and third learn to empathize with those whose life experiences are different from theirs. And one of the most powerful avenues is through exceptional literature.
June is Pride month, and it’s the perfect time to reflect on your role in furthering understanding – or stifling it – when considering LGBTQAI+ books in your collections. If you’re actively purchasing and making these titles available, Bravo! If you’re not, here are a few thoughts to consider getting you pointed in a more inclusive direction:
- Begin by taking a look at your collection, library or classroom. If you haven’t included LGBTQAI+ titles, as yourself why (and be honest about the answer).
- Begin the discussion with children as questions and comments arise. Don’t think this is a form of diversity for teens only. Very young children have diverse family structures, and experience gender dysphoria at a very young age.
- Include outside stakeholders in the discussion when necessary.
- Meet challenges head-on, and never be afraid to explain your reasoning and that it’s a matter of promoting basic human rights, as with any other form of diversity.
- Solicit allies when needed.
A resource to get you started with a teen collection is this Pinterest Board by OELMA member Cathie Cooper: https://www.pinterest.com/oelmalibrarians/lgbtq-themed-ya-books/
And this new book published by ALA written by Liz Deskins and me includes books, questions, and other resources for children and teens of all ages: https://www.alastore.ala.org/content/lgbtqai-books-children-and-teens-providing-window-all