Over 100 people attended the UW Libraries Children’s Literature Open House in Suzzallo Library last Friday, October 26. This special event showcasing a range of youth literature across our university’s three campuses preceded the annual Spencer G. Shaw Lecture Series featuring award-winning teacher-author Sharon Draper.
The UW Tacoma Library has the only stand-alone children’s and young adult book section and the only endowed fund for children’s and young adult literature in the UW Libraries system. In 2006, Douglas Louie surprised his wife, UW Tacoma Professor of Education Belinda Louie, with a $25,000 donation to the UW Tacoma Library–a gift for their 25th anniversary. The sole purpose of this endowed fund is to expand the library’s collection of diverse children’s and young adult books–not only to support the School of Education curriculum but to foster a love of reading.
Open house attendees browsed through a selection of popular titles, including Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood, written by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, and illustrated by Rafael López; The White Nights of Ramadan, written by Maha Addasi and illustrated by Ned Gannon; and Ichiro, a graphic novel written and illustrated by Ryan Inzana. Uncle Peter’s Amazing Chinese Wedding, written by Lenore Look and illustrated by Yumi Heo, was an especially popular title.
Visitors commonly asked, “What is the focus of the collection?” As directed by the endowment, we inject the library with diverse titles in order to reflect the multitude of faces, cultures, and experiences that compose the world around us. School librarians talk about the importance of “mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors”: Children need to see themselves and their experiences reflected in their books, they need to be introduced to experiences of other cultures, and they need to see that they are part of a group and connected to other groups (Bishop, 1990).
When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part… Children from dominant social groups have always found their mirrors in books, but they, too, have suffered from the lack of availability of books about others.
–Bishop, R. S. (1990). Mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Classroom 6(3).
For these reasons, we look not only for award nominees and winners (for example, the Coretta Scott King Book Awards, the American Indian Youth Literature Awards, and the Rainbow Book List. We also stay informed about writing that reflects the lives of marginalized characters as written by marginalized authors, as recommended through the #ownvoices movement. If you know of works we should consider, please let us know! Make recommendations through our Purchase Request Form. Thanks in advance!
The UW Libraries system holds about 60,000 print titles explicitly meant for ages 0-18. Books may be requested from any library in our system for delivery to another library. Everyone is welcome to visit and use our materials while in the library. Students and UW employees may also request books from outside our system through our interlibrary loan programs. Learn more about borrowing privileges at: www.lib.washington.edu/services/borrow
Browse or search UW Libraries and read some great kid lit!