In 2021, we formed a committee to review the suggested texts in the IF for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) to ensure their cultural responsiveness. Texts that did not meet the committee’s requirements (based on the review process) were removed from the IF and replaced with similar books the committee rated high for DEI.
To prepare for its work, the committee reviewed several resources to better understand cultural responsiveness, why it’s important and how it can be evaluated. Then, the committee developed assessment criteria focused on context, illustrations, message and word choice, along with guiding questions.
After scoring texts individually, committee members met to discuss texts, calibrate responses and make recommendations. The committee reviewed authors’ representation as part of the process and was intentional about researching and selecting books by underrepresented authors to deliver a more equitable resource.
The Culturally Responsive Text Review Committee reviewed and rated more than 1,000 texts during this process. The result is an updated suggested texts list for each grade level (located in the IF Unit Overview documents) as well as a Culturally Responsive Text Suggestions list. The “living” list is intended to enhance the current library by providing the most recent texts explicitly chosen for their contributions to DEI.
Myrna is a first-generation stateside Puerto Rican American who identifies as Latina. She formerly served as a teacher in the classroom and as a vice principal, and now serves as an independent educational consultant. She is passionate about supporting teachers in maximizing learning outcomes for all students, and equally passionate about helping young people find their voice so that they can share their unique narrative and impact the global narrative.
Ginger is an American female who identifies as white. She is also a wife and mother of two daughters. Ginger is a former special education teacher, curriculum developer, instructional coach and lifelong learner. She has a fondness for children’s literature and believes representation is the key that can unlock the joy of reading for children, especially those who have traditionally been excluded from the mainstream.
Daphne is a first-generation Filipino American educator and identifies as Asian or Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI). She is also a wife and a mother of two young children, and she enjoys traveling to experience and learn about other cultures. As an educator, she worked with elementary students in the classroom as well as in administration overseeing the academics and curriculum. Daphne hopes for children to feel empowered to love the skin they are in and grow empathy and kindness for others by reading books filled with diverse people and topics.
Kiel is a first-generation Jamaican-British American, who identifies as Black or Caribbean American. Kiel is a former teacher and summer enrichment program overseer who has worked with children and families in Baltimore city private schools and the Park Heights community. Kiel has a passion for helping children unearth and tap into their potential and believes that literary representation is integral in helping them actualize their aspirations.
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