From Bates College:
In mid-August, the award-winning Diverse BookFinder, a comprehensive educational resource for multicultural children’s picture books, saw an unusual spike in web traffic to its Bates College website.
Coinciding with events overseas, the trending Google search term “children’s books about Afghanistan” was directing web users to a helpful page on the Diverse BookFinder site. There, the selection of awareness-expanding books included The Library Bus, a story of a young girl, set against the backdrop of war, written by an Afghan author and appropriate for ages 5 and up.
For Bates Professor of Psychology Krista Aronson, founder and director of the Diverse BookFinder, the Google-driven traffic was good news on multiple levels.
For one, the traffic indicates that librarians and teachers — the BookFinder’s major users, in addition to parents — are accessing its resources. It’s also “evidence of how these educational leaders are always seeking ways to use multicultural picture books to teach and guide young children.”
The BookFinder offers a few different resources. Its search tool allows anyone, from educators to parents, to easily locate and explore children’s picture books.
In addition, the platform also offers a free, online collection-analysis tool that helps libraries diversify their picture-book holdings by identifying who is represented — among Black and Indigenous People and People of Color — in their collections and what themes and messages are presented.
Aronson and her team offer consulting services to libraries in all 50 states, “including hundreds of libraries in Maine and Massachusetts, just to give a sense of the scale,” she says. The NEH grant and the summer 2022 institute “will allow us to expand our engagement to include educators more directly.”
As co-director of the institute with Boyle, Aronson will guide educators through the ins and outs of the BookFinder and how picture books serve as bridges to important ideas. She’ll also explain how children understand the concept of race and describe the current landscape of multicultural children’s literature in the U.S.