There is an abundant amount of influence that we have over children as parents, teachers, librarians, adults; influence over how children think about themselves and the world around them, encouraged by what they see and what we provide them. If children are to become well rounded individuals who remain curious, confidant, and empathetic, there needs to be a movement toward an inclusive, diverse, and inspirational children’s room in libraries.
Too often, children are influenced by standards that are outside of their control, standards that are displayed to them by us—by adults who either don’t know any better or adults who are less inclined toward change. It’s so important that we get beyond these innocuous standards that serve no purpose and reach further as educators and librarians, defying oppression and embracing a better future.
The video below is a commercial for Verizon, but it’s a video that has permeated my way of seeing how we raise children to arbitrary standards. This is only a small example of a larger problem. This video shows the inherent sexism in raising girls, but there’s a wider issue of indoctrinated racism, sexism, discrimination, that children are being raised in. In the video below, the young girl is told “no, don’t touch that bug, it’s messy” or “your science project is getting out of control” or “don’t use that drill, give that to your brother” which is quietly, sufficiently, and wholly transforming the girl’s opinion of what she should and should not be interested in.
The ending shot reveals the girl as a teenager viewing a flyer for a Science Fair but instead of reading the flyer she uses the reflection as a mirror to put on lipstick. The point of the commercial is that girls are often told no to situations in which they are experimenting, adventuring, or exploring–areas in which boys are often encouraged, areas of thrill seeking and science. This is an influential standard, a byproduct of another time that can be eliminated with books that show female characters adventuring, exploring and experimenting. The same could be said of characters of all races, religions, sexualities and creeds, which can show children the true diversity of the world.
We hope that our bibliography has been a diverse start to a diverse children’s collection!
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