On Saturday, March 7th, from 1:00 PM 3:00PM, the Center for Teaching through Children's Books hosted an exciting discussion of two Suburban Mosaic Books of the Year: The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng (Grades 24) and Kids of Kabul by Deborah Ellis (Middle School). The intimate event was comprised of twenty five attendees: NLU faculty, librarians, teachers, and other education professionals. “The Suburban Mosaic Book of the Year Program seeks to confront issues of racial and social justice and promote cross-cultural understanding through literature" (http://www.suburbanmosaicbooks.org). Suburban Mosaic is thus dedicated to reaching a deeper understanding of the various cultures in our communities in order to reduce prejudice, racism, and the systemic marginalization of populations. Together we discussed how these titles met this mission.
The program opened with a brief presentation by Toby Rajput, the Children's and Youth Literature Librarian for the University and for the CTCB. She discussed Suburban Mosaic’s mission and history, guidelines for the event’s book discussion, Teachingbooks.net (a resource database of instructional materials to supplement K–12 reading and library activities), and then examined the featured titles and authors in greater detail. She cheerfully concluded with a read aloud of another wonderful Suburban Mosaic Book of the Year:
Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/ Marisol McDonald no combina by Monica Brown (Preschool Title).
The program continued with discussions of the featured books, organized into three breakout groups that were led by Friends of the Center for Teaching through Children’s Books. The Friends are a group of librarians, teachers, reading specialists, and retired professionals in the field of education who are enthusiastic about children's literature and serve as a public information and service group for the Center for Teaching through Children’s Books.
The event closed with attendees sharing their thoughts and ideas, and what they learned as a result of their group’s discussion. We solicited feedback on the program with an exit slip, asking 3 things attendees learned, two things they’d like to know more about, and one suggestion for improving the program.
To our delight, most suggestions were extremely positive:
“Keep it the same, it's perfect!"
"Great as is!"
"Have more discussion groups such as this."
"The program was outstanding!"
"It was awesome!"
To reference our third email blast for the event, like James Baldwin, we believe:
“Literature is indispensable to the world. The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way a person looks at reality, then you can change it.”
The event was a huge success and we hope to host more book discussions in the future. The enthusiasm exhibited by our staff and attendees inspired many to want to learn more about social justice and diversity titles, how to introduce books about diversity to students, and how to get more involved in social action projects using literature.
by Annie Miller