Librarians, It’s Time to Be Heroes

Texas state representative, Matt Krause has created a list of 850 books that he would like removed from all of the schools in in the state. The book list contains some of the top books that are written by authors of color, LGBTQ authors, or those who are supportive of diversity. The books also have characters who are diverse in a myriad of ways that Krause finds troubling due to them being items that “might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex.”

I am so livid about this attack on libraries, whether they be school or public libraries. And public libraries are being targeted as well due to the right wing’s efforts to remove books about what they refer to as “Critical Race Theory” and are using as a wide ranging attack on any books that speak to diversity, human rights, refugee and immigrant experiences, etc.

Make no mistake, there are librarians who will start to think differently about what is in their collections, hoping to avoid the attacks. There are librarians who may also feel more comfortable with these books not being in their collections anyway.

But the bulk of librarians will stand strong and fight back. We will retain these books and more, stand with our diverse communities who deserve to see themselves represented in children’s and teen books. We will do what we have done for decades, defend the right to read for all ages.

Because we all need to remember that librarians can be heroes too, and not just in story times when wearing a cape.

Black Lives Matter Books for Kids and Teens

Here are some great books that speak to the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, the righteous anger we are seeing on the streets, America’s long history of racism, and voices that have always been worth investing in and listening to:


Big Papa and the Time Machine by Daniel Bernstrom

Big Papa and the Time Machine by Daniel Bernstrom, illustrated by Shane W. Evans

Black Is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy

Black Is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

Box Henry Brown Makes Himself to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford

Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Michele Wood

Exquisite The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade

Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry, illustrated by Vashti Harrison

I Remember Poems and Pictures of Heritage compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins

I Remember: Poems and Pictures of Heritage compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins

i too am america

I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Bryan Collier

Lillians Right to Vote by Jonah Winter

Lillian’s Right to Vote by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Shane W. Evans

seeds of freedom

Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama by Hester Bass, illustrated by E. B. Lewis

Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o

Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o, illustrated by Vashti Harrison

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

we march

We March by Shane W. Evans


brown girl dreaming

brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Clean Getaway by Nic Stone

Clean Getaway by Nic Stone

For Black Girls Like Me by Mariama J. Lockington

For Black Girls Like Me by Mariama J. Lockington

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

lions of little rock

The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds

Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds

Some Places More Than Others by Renee Watson

Some Places More Than Others by Renee Watson

this promise of change by jo ann allen boyce and debbie levy

This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy

When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders

When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Jim Burke, R. Gregory Christie, Tonya Engel, John Parra, and Meilo So


All American Boys by Jason Reynolds

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists by Mikki Kendall and A. D’Amico 

Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic HIstory of Women’s Fight for Their Rights by Mikki Kendall and A. D’Amico

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta


March: Book One by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell (and the entire trilogy)

Slay by Brittney Morris

Slay by Brittney Morris


X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon

Study Shows Children Prefer Paper


New research from Australia shows that children are more likely to read the paper version of books rather than on devices. The study looked at children in Year 4 and 6 who had access to e-reading devices. It showed that children did not tend to use their devices for reading even if they were regular readers in general.

In fact, the research showed that the more devices a child had access to, the less likely they were to read in general. In other words, access to e-reading devices inhibited reading.

These findings mirror those of previous research of teenagers and college students, showing that they all prefer to read on paper.

Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report

This is the sixth biannual Kids & Family Reading Report that Scholastic has created. The 2016 survey was done in conjunction with YouGov. The surveys focus on family attitudes and behaviors around recreational reading.

Here are some of the findings that struck me. You can read the entire report here.

  • Children who are frequent readers have 141 children’s books in their homes vs. 65 books for kids among infrequent readers’ homes.
  • Households with income less than $35K only have an average of 69 children’s books vs. 127 books for kids in households with income more than $100K.
  • When looking for children’s books to read for fun, both kids (37%) and parents (42%) “just want a good story,” and a similar percentage want books that make kids laugh.
  • Parents of Hispanic children are more likely than parents of non-Hispanic children to look for books with characters who are culturally or ethnically diverse
  • The majority of kids ages 6–17 agree “it is very important for their future to be a good reader”
  • Parents underestimate the degree to which children have trouble finding books they like.
  • Despite conventional wisdom, six in 10 children ages 6–17 agree “I really enjoy reading books over the summer”
  • One in five 12–17 year-olds and one in five kids in lower-income families do not read any books at all over the summer.

Boys and Reading


Two of the largest studies of reading habits of children in the UK have been recently completed.

They show that boys of every age typically read less thoroughly than girls, no matter what sort of literature they are reading. They tend to take less time to process what they are reading and skip parts as well. Finally, they also choose things to read that are too easy for them.

Though boys read nonfiction more than girls do, the studies demonstrated that boys are not any better at reading nonfiction as thoroughly as girls are. There is also no relationship to socioeconomic status seen in the studies.

Topping said: “What you need is teachers, classroom assistants, librarians spending time with a child to talk about choices in reading; possible suggestions for more challenging books in the context of what they are interested in.

“We are not saying read hundreds of classics and that everything will be all right. They need to read challenging books in a subject in which they are interested.”

Details on the large studies can be found in The Guardian.


New Study of Impact of Literacy Apps


Science Daily has information about a study of the impact of tablets loaded with literacy apps on children. For the last four years, MIT, Tufts University and Georgia State University have been studying whether tablet computers with literacy apps could improve reading preparedness of young children living in economically disadvantaged communities.

They did three trials of the tablets: one in two rural Ethiopian villages with no schools and no written culture, one in a suburban South African school with a student-teacher ratio of 60 to 1, and one in a rural school in the United States.Students are given the tablets with no coaching from adults, because the plan is to scale this up to a larger level. There was no issue with children using the tablets and most had explored all of the apps by the end of the first day.

The results:

In the South African trial, rising second graders who had been issued tablets the year before were able to sound out four times as many words as those who hadn’t, and in the U.S. trial, which involved only 4-year-olds and lasted only four months, half-day preschool students were able to supply the sounds corresponding to nearly six times as many letters as they had been before the trial.

New trials are being run now in Uganda, Bangladesh, India and the US. A total of 2000 children have been part of the study so far.

This is certainly something for libraries and teachers to keep an eye on!

First Book Video

First Book has a gorgeous new video out that speaks to the power of books in combating poverty and making sure that parents are their child’s first teacher:

Another Reason for Kids to Read


Public Radio International has the news of a new study that reveals yet another reason that reading is important for children. The study done at University of California Riverside shows that the text of children’s books contains “substantially more unique words than ordinary parent-child conversation.”

Transcripts of conversations were compared with text from a hundred children’s picture books, largely compiled from book lists from teachers and librarians, Amazon and the most popular books at the local public library.

The difference is incredible, with 70% more unique words in books than in speech.

The next step in the study of text vs. speech will be focused on sentence-level differences.

Reading to Children – Medically Proven to Change Brains!


Researchers have conducted MRIs to prove that reading to children sparks changes in their brains. Specifically, reading aloud to preschoolers helps with “mental imagery and understanding narrative” which are both keys to emerging literacy.

Researchers looked at the brains of 19 3-5 year olds using MRI, scanning their brains while they listened to recordings of stories being read aloud. The results showed that children who were from homes where there was more reading had greater activity in the key brain areas than children who did not.

"This is a small and very early study, but the exciting thing it was able to demonstrate is that early reading does have an impact on the parts of the brain that are fundamental for developing literacy early on," DeWitt said. "It’s biological evidence that transcends empirical studies.

Read more at Huff Po and Web MD.