Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Librarians launch blog: READING WHILE WHITE

Yesterday (September 15, 2015), a new blog was launched. Titled Reading While White, its contributors are--as the blog title indicates--white. The contributors are librarians who I know personally and professionally.

The most recent issue of Children and Libraries (Summer 2015), has articles by two of the contributors. Kathleen T. Horning's "Milestones for Diversity in Literature and Library Services" is a timeline of significant events in children's literature but it is loaded with information. She noted, for example, that in 1984, Jamake Highwater was exposed as a fraud. She referenced Akwesasne Notes, a source that most people in children's literature weren't reading at the time. It points to the depth of her commitment to diversity. She's at the Cooperative Children's Book Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Allie Jane Bruce's article is "On Being White: A Raw, Honest Conversation." In it, she shares a personal story about how, over time, she became fully aware of her identity and a societal reluctance to talk about whiteness. Avoiding that discussion, she writes, lets racism be "other people's problem." She wrote Why a White Blog?, which is the first post at Reading While White. It is provocative and engaging, too. Yesterday as I read through Twitter, I saw that many people excerpted parts of her post as they shared news about the blog. She's at Bank Street College in New York City where she's done some outstanding work with children, teaching them to read critically. See her recent post, Rewriting History: American Indians, Europeans, and an Oak Tree.

Something both women and I share is a commitment to children. My article in the summer issue of Children and Libraries is the Last Word column. I wrote about my niece's baby, her names (one is her Tewa name, the language we speak at Nambe), and children's books I want her to have.

I look forward to reading Reading While White. Because it is written by librarians, I think librarians will be especially interested in what is shared there.

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