Two University of Dayton researchers are making it their mission to help teachers get more diverse children's books in the classroom. They have even developed a rubric.
Jackie Arnold and Mary-Kate Sableski, both assistant professors of teacher education, discovered very few classrooms have books that represent diversity in society. "Children need to see themselves represented in the books they read and in their teacher's instruction," says Arnold. "Yet even today, only a small portion of children's books are published by or about diverse groups."
The rubric allows teachers to rate books on a scale from 0 to 3. Books rated "0" have no diversity. A rating of "1" could have diverse characters, but not as main actors, like the Harry Potter series. Books rated "2" have diverse characters but the theme is not diversity. A "3" displays a theme of diversity like The Price of Freedom by Dennie Brindell Fradin and Judith Bloom Fradin.
"The rubric is important because even teachers who understand the need for books that represent people of different cultures, genders, and abilities might have limited experience selecting titles," says Sableski.
You can pay to download the book chapter that contains the rubric.
Parent and teacher Colleen Gromek refers to the rubric as a tool for when she buys or borrows books for her son. "I never noticed how many books for young children were entirely centered around animals. My husband and I work hard to make sure our home library reflects the diversity of the world around us."