CHICAGO — Starr LaTronica, president, Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association, writes in the Huffington Post about "Libraries Working To Bridge The Cultural Divide."
“Unfortunately too often children in the United States are not exposed to print or digital materials that reflect themselves or their culture. This can have harmful effects on a child, as such an absence impacts self-esteem. Similarly damaging is a child's lack of exposure to other cultures, which fuels intolerance and cultural invisibility.
“Although we know the diversity of our country continues to grow, the percentage of children's books released each year either by a person of color or with a multicultural theme has been virtually unchanged over the past 18 years. Every year since 1994, statistics gathered by the Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that just over 8 percent of children's books published in the United States represented Nonwhites. The most current data from CCBC shows that out of the more than 5,000 titles published in 2013 only 253 were about Nonwhites.
“Since there is a lack of diversity in children's books, as a parent how do you find high quality materials that highlight your culture and a host of others? How do you find print and digital resources, programs and events that will introduce your child to new cultures? The answer is simple - at your local public library.
“One way that libraries are working to bring more culturally diverse programs to their communities is through El día de los niños/El día de los libros (children's day/book day), commonly referred to as Día! Diversity in action. This national initiative emphasizes the importance of literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Librarians across the country use Día resources to celebrate our nation's rich tapestry of cultures. On April 30 and throughout the year, library staff connect children and their families to a world of learning through multicultural books, programs and events.”
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