by Taryn Chambers Givan
When I taught 4th grade English language arts and reading, I introduced many of my students to the story of Anne Frank. For weeks we explored the intricacies of her life and interests through video clips, readings, virtual tours and even pictures from my trip to The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. I vividly remember how fascinated they were with her personal diary entries and love for writing. When the unit was over, several students requested a list of books about her. At that moment, I understood the significance of incorporating more multicultural literature into my classroom library and lessons.
Home libraries are an essential component to the literacy development in children, and they provide an opportunity for parents to model the importance of reading. It is important to expose kids to a variety of genres, and it is also beneficial to expose our youth to diverse cultures. To cultivate an appreciation for multiple perspectives, children deserve to see others and themselves within stories. According to research by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, “children need windows and mirrors. They need mirrors in which they see themselves and windows through which they see the world.”
As an educator and avid reader, I have spent two decades encouraging students to read beyond the school environment. For many families, purchasing books can be quite expensive, which means some kids don’t have access to many books at home. While scrolling on Facebook in 2020, I came across a READvolutionary Pop-Up Library established by Kierra Robinson in El Paso, Texas. I instinctively knew that would be an amazing opportunity to offer free multicultural books to children in Texarkana. To date, we’ve hosted three events and have given away 354 books within our community. This not only fosters the love of reading, but also provides books for students to take with them and enjoy over and over again.
Whether your children already have overflowing bookshelves or you’re just getting started, there are several inexpensive places you can search for books. Shop the shelves at local and online bookstores (try thriftbooks.com and bookoutlet.com). You can also find cheap used books at flea markets, garage sales, and book swaps.
These titles can help provide your child with windows and mirrors:
Ages 3 to 7
- 2 Pirates + 1 Robot by Henry Herz
- Tortillas and Lullabies by Lynn Reiser
- I Am Human: A Book of Empathy by Susan Verde
- I Promise by Lebron James
- Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales
- Come on, Rain by Karen Hesse
- Lightning Girl vs Secret Supervillain by Alesha Dixon
- Starstruck: The Cosmic Journey of Neil DeGrasse Tyson by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer
- The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
- Zlata’s Diary, A Child’s Life in Sarajevo by Zlata
- Game Changers: The Story of Venus & Serena Williams by Lesa Cline-Ransome
- Reflections of a Childhood Friend: Memories of Anne Frank by Alison Leslie Gold
- The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom by John and Elizabeth Sherrill
- I Beat The Odds by Michael Oher
- Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison
Taryn Chambers Givan, a native of Texarkana, Texas, is the Founder & CEO of Divergent Educational Consulting, LLC & Services Specialist and Instructional Coach with BetterLesson. She is in her 21st year as an educator and is the wife of Antonio, mother of Endyia, and bonus mom to Breylon and Ashton. Connect with Taryn at divergenteducationalconsulting.com.