The Red X on Book Covers

The Red X on Book Covers
by Debbie Reese
January 30, 2020

Years ago, a colleague told me that in lectures, she showed book covers of problematic books. In later conversations with attendees, she noticed that some people's take-away from her presentations was that they remembered the book cover but did not necessarily remember that she said "this book is problematic."

Some time later, I was visiting with a brain researcher who told me that visual images are processed by the brain at an astonishingly higher rate than text.

I brought these threads of information into my presentations and here, at AICL.

In presentations, I show a book cover, and then I click--not to the next slide--but to add a red X on that book cover. The image that stays on the screen, then, for the duration of my discussion of that book, has the red X on it.

It is my effort to help attendees carry a "not recommended" image with them, of that book. In feedback of presentations, attendees often remark on how effective that is for them. Here's how that looks:

I use it on old books, and new books, too. It makes some people uncomfortable. I appreciate their reaction but the thrust of my work is on the impact stereotypical, biased, or inappropriate content has on children. That kind of content can harm Native children, and it can mis-inform all children.

I welcome your thoughts on it.


Unknown said...

Thank you, Debbie. It's critically important that this information is provided for those of us that work with books and young children. Taking a look at some of the books with the "Red X," they receive high accolades on other websites. Your critical and teaching eye for these books helps us all understand and do better for our children.

Mommy Librarian said...

Do you have a list of books that are red x books? I would like to use it to start taking a look at my library collection and taking out books that are not appropriately depicting a community.

Debbie Reese said...

Mommy Librarian,

You may find the "not recommended" tab most useful. It will take you to reviews of books that we do not recommend, and for those books, you'll find details why the book is not recommended.

Based on your question, I created a page on the menu bar about Not Recommended lists.