Sharing Diversity Through Reading at the Woodson Kindergarten Center – Austin Daily Herald


By Woodson Director Jill Rollie

Woodson EL Teacher Deb Nelson

Woodson EL Professor Hiedy Morey

Leaves are changing, temperatures are dropping, and the calendar is quickly moving towards the holiday season. The month of November gives us the opportunity to remember all that we are grateful for and to reflect on the many reasons we need to be grateful.

At the Woodson Kindergarten Center, we are grateful to the more than 400 families and children we serve. Our families are a colorful reflection of the Austin community, representing many diverse backgrounds and cultures. This year our students speak a total of 18 different home languages. With this in mind, some of our key values ​​are literacy, diversity and inclusion.

Rudine Sims Bishop, specialist in children’s literature, wrote in a 1990 article: “When children are reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative or laughable, they learn. a powerful lesson in how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part. Conversely, when they see themselves portrayed in a positive way, it can have an equally powerful effect. “Our classrooms should be places where all children . . . of American society can find their mirrors ”(Bishop, 1990).

We want our students to be able to see themselves in the literature we share with them, and this year we have worked very hard to provide opportunities for our students to interact with multicultural literature.

Over the summer, each Woodson class received a set of multicultural books and our school library received two. These stories have given our students the opportunity to see children like them in the books they read. Why is it important for children to see themselves in the books they read? Research shows that even at the age of 3, children begin to form racial prejudices, and by the age of 7, these prejudices become fixed. Therefore, exposure to diversity in books and media from an early age will help our students to become “benevolent creatures”.

Speaking of diversity, Woodson hosted a very special event this fall during Austin Welcome Week. A group of community leaders from diverse backgrounds and cultures gathered in Woodson to share some of their favorite books with our students. This allowed our children to experience a little of the diversity within the Austin community.

At Woodson, we strive every day to welcome every child to a safe and happy space where the child is known and valued. We are grateful to be able to serve our smallest learners. We are lucky!

Source: Rudine Sims Bishop, Ohio State University. “Mirrors, Windows and Sliding Glass Doors” originally appeared in Perspectives: Choose and use books for the class. Flight. 6, no. 3. Summer 1990.


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