When teachers and child care directors are seeking new books to add to classroom libraries, it’s important to think intentionally about the children and families who will be reading those books. Across our state, many home visiting and early education and care programs serve families from a variety of cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Having a variety of picture books, fictional stories, folk tales, and nonfiction books available to share with all children and families builds relationships across home and program settings.
Young children build critical language skills when looking at books and listening to stories. It is important for home visitors, teachers, and child care directors to select high-quality books that accurately reflect the cultures and home languages of the children and families they serve.
Children’s books written in the home language should also be culturally responsive. This is especially true if the family has recently settled in the United States. Families may be interested to share books or stories that depict daily life in their home culture. This can provide an opportunity for the program to positively acknowledge the child’s culture. All the children can learn about their friend’s homeland and expand their understanding of cultures and languages.
Finding culturally responsive books for young children can be challenging. Fortunately, the National Center on Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness (NCCLR) has created a quick guide for teachers: Selecting Culturally Appropriate Children’s Books in Languages Other Than English. This quick guide has information about finding books in multiple languages and ideas for sharing books with families. The guide includes points to consider when choosing culturally responsive books.
Teachers and child care directors may want to celebrate Multicultural Children’s Book Day on January 25, 2019. The website for this event includes a link to Diversity Book Lists & Activities for Teachers and Parents. Teachers may want to sign up for free posters for Multicultural Children’s Book Day and book giveaways.
When young children see characters in books who look and speak like them, there is an opportunity for meaningful connections with their teachers and caregivers. Welcoming every child and family by intentionally providing culturally responsive books to homes and classrooms demonstrates to all that each child is a valued member of their learning community.
Related IEL Resources
IEL Tipsheet: Helping Preschoolers Learn in Two Languages
IEL Tipsheet: Get Ready to Read