NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin State University students studying elementary education recently hosted a “We Need Diverse Books” event at the SFA Charter School to promote diversity in literature.
Through this event and class project, 36 SFA students in a course taught by Dr. Lauren Burrow, elementary education assistant professor, read diverse books to elementary students and participated in group activities related to the readings.
“This event provided students with books and characters who act as a mirror for their own lives, serve as windows into the lives and experiences of others, and exist as a sliding door into those lives and experiences we want to learn more about because they are so different from our own,” Burrow said.
University students worked in groups to select the reading and create activities.
Books included “The Skin You Live In” by Michael Tyler, which is about race and accepting and valuing one’s skin color; “Women in Chemistry” by Mary Wissinger, which highlights the accomplishments of women in science; and “Mañana Iguana” by Ann Whitford Paul, a bilingual text.
Burrow developed this event as a class project to provide students with an opportunity to create lesson plans, build activities and work as a team.
Group members searched for multiple books within their diverse category and selected the best example based on Good Diverse Books guidelines and input from local librarians.
Each member recorded a 60-second book report video summarizing the book and explaining why it should be chosen for the event. Group members watched each other’s videos and voted on one book for the team to use. Groups then created lesson activities related to the books and made book bag souvenirs to send home for families to learn more about the books with their children.