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Thoughtful Parenting: Diversity in summer reading

Kim Schulz
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Recent events have brought the conversation of race to the forefront. Summer reading is an opportunity to use books to spark conversations about race and other aspects of diversity, including but not limited to socioeconomic status, ethnicity, language, learning differences and disabilities. It’s a continuing conversation that is important to have with children of all ages. It also gives us an opportunity to examine our own beliefs, bias and privilege.

Home library

Take a look at your child’s home library. Are the characters in the books people from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds? Do you have books where the heroes are people of color or people with disabilities? Do the families in the books represent a variety of family structures? These are some questions to begin to think about the diversity represented in your library. 

The following are some suggestions to check out this summer.

Books for young children (8 and younger)

  • “All the Colors We Are: The Story of How We Get Our Skin Color”; “Todos los Colores de Nuestra Piel: La Historia de Por Qué Tenemos Diferentes Colores de Piel” by Katie Kissinger
  • “This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from Around the World” by Matt LaMothe
  • The Bud Werner Library has a list called Let’s Talk About Race that includes a variety of children’s books at steamboatlibrary.marmot.org/MyAccount/MyList/47258 

Books for children (ages 8 to 12)

  • “Fish in a Tree” by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  • “Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness” by Anastasia Higginbotham
  • “Esperanza Rising” by Pam Munoz Ryan
  • “Rules” by Cynthia Lord 

Books for teens (13 and older)

  • “All American Boys” by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
  • “This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work” by Tiffany Jewell

Summer is a great time to explore new books and have meaningful conversations.

The Bud Werner Memorial Library and Off the Beaten Path are encouraging children birth to age 17 to read every day by offering $10 in-store credit for the bookstore for every 30 days a child reads or is read to for at least 15 minutes. Check out the library’s website for details at steamboatlibrary.org/youth/youth-summer-reading-program.

Kim Schulz is the executive director and part of the team of reading experts at Steamboat Reading. Steamboat Reading is a nonprofit that provides a community of support for struggling readers and their families. They are part of the Routt County Youth Services Coalition. Visit steamboatreading.org.


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