The information below is intended to clarify the process by which the diverse classroom libraries were distributed and answer community questions:
How were the books chosen?
The classroom libraries were chosen in accordance to LCPS School Board Policy 5-7 and Regulation 5-7, Selection and Review of Instructional Materials. LCPS staff, including several librarians, teachers and the Supervisors of English Language Arts and Media Services, worked to select books for each grade level library in partnership with professional collection specialists. Several criteria were considered including representation, authorship, relevance to students’ lives, authentic voice, and developmental appropriateness. The elementary lists are predominantly selected from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP) Diversity Book List which was vetted by hundreds of teachers across the country. The secondary lists were also curated by LCPS staff and the Mackin collection specialist teams, using their considerable experience and training as well as the Identity Inclusive Texts Rubric.(Mackin is one of our partners that has expertise in creating collections and uses a variety of culturally responsive evaluation tools to select text.) Many of the titles in the diverse book collections already are included in library catalogs within LCPS.
Have any books been removed or releveled from the Diverse Book Collection?
No books have been removed from the collection. Four books have been releveled. Based on school feedback and further analysis by the English Language Arts Office, a committee was formed to review five books from the elementary "diverse libraries" that bridge development between elementary and middle school. In other words, the publisher or library system may level them at an age or range that could span elementary and middle schools, and staff felt it important to do an additional review to ensure the books were properly leveled based on the content of each book. Participants in the committee included administrators, specialists and teachers from the following offices: English Language Arts, English Learners, Media Services, and Social Science and Global Studies. Criteria outlined in Policy and Regulation 5-7 were used in the review process. The titles were reviewed for age-appropriate content and language, not the type of diversity they represent.
The following four titles will be moved to the middle school level: Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender, So Hard to Say by Alex Sanchez, The Pants Project by Cat Clarke and Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel by Dianna Lopez.
The following title will remain in the fifth grade diverse libraries: My Year in the Middle by Lila Quintero Weaver.
Is every classroom library book read by every student?
No, books in classroom libraries including the new collection of diverse books are not accessed by every student. Classroom libraries complement our robust school libraries and are provided as optional choice books for students. They are not part of the core curriculum and are not mandatory reading.
How were the books paid for?
The Department of Instruction used DOI Operations and Maintenance funds appropriated by the School Board to purchase these books for elementary and high schools. No middle school purchases have been made.
Where can I find information on the classroom libraries, including a list of the books?
Information regarding the classroom libraries, including a complete list of books by grade level, are on the LCPS English Language Arts webpage.
What types of diversity are included in the collections?
The following chart provides a breakdown of categories by grade level. The categories are provided by Mackin, and books may fall into more than one category.
Diverse Book Collections Distribution of Titles per Mackin
Diverse Race, Culture, Language, Religion
Why does the purchase appear to emphasize some religions over others?
The purpose of the diverse book collection was to diversify the books available to students, understanding that the prevalent culture is already represented in our collections. For example, a search for “Christianity” in our library system yields approximately 2,500 unique titles, compared to a search for “Muslim” that yields about 900 titles. Another example is a search for “Christmas” in our current elementary collections alone yields 2,500 unique titles, compared to a search for “Ramadan” that yields 78 titles.
Were some of the books donated?
The diverse classroom libraries provided by the school division did not include donated books. All books went through the central office for purchase and distribution to schools.
How can a parent request that books or other instructional materials be reconsidered?
The process for challenging books in classroom libraries or any instructional resource in a school starts at the school level and is outlined in Regulation 5-7 Selection and Review of Library Media Center Instructional Materials. In addition to the form at the end of the regulation, there is also a link for online submission of a request to review instructional materials: https://www.lcps.org//cms/module/selectsurvey/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID=8651
What book reviews have been initiated at the division level separate from school level challenges or appeals?
The books below were selected for a division level review because of one or more of the following:
- The book has been challenged at the school level one or more times,
- The book has been mentioned more than once in public comment at a School Board meeting, and/or
- The book has been the subject of multiple emails received by Department of Instruction staff or School Board members.
DOI is initiating division level reviews of the following books on the high school diverse library list:
- Gabi, Girl in Pieces by Isabel Qunitero (Currently in 9, 11, 12)
- Season of You and Me by Robin Constantine (Currently in 9, 11, 12)
- Rani Patel in Full Effect by Sonia Patel (Currently in 9, 11, 12)
- Other Broken Things by Christa Desir (Currently in 9)
- Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown (Currently in 12)
- Dime by E. R. Frank (Currently in 11, 12)
- Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin (Currently in 9, 11, 12)
- Cub by P. Coccia (Currently in 9, 11, 12)
- Gravity by L. Lieberman (Currently in 9)
- Girls Like Me by Lola St. Vil (Currently in 11)
The division level reviews will be conducted by 3-5 member comittees to include at least one central office administrator and at least 2 of the following-Librarian, Reading Teacher, High School English Teacher, and Special Education Teacher, Counselor, or Social Worker. the committee members will be asked to read the book cover-to-cover. They will also be provided with book reviews from a variety of sources such as Common Sense Media, Kirkus, and others, as well as information regarding recommended age and grade levels. The committee will then make a recommendation to the Superintendent.
Possible recommendations include:
- Maintain the book in current classroom library
- Re-level the book to another grade level classroom library
- Move the book to the school library
- Remove the book from circulation
When will the middle school diverse libraries be purchased?
The purchase of the Middle School Diverse Libraries has been deferred pending the review and revision of Policy 5-7. Revision of Policy 5-7 requires School Board action. Policies under review go through staff and School Board Committee review prior to being brought to the full School Board for consideration. School Board policies are discussed during at least one meeting as an information item, prior to returning to another meeting for potential action.
How much was spent on the diverse classroom libraries?
The purchases were made with Department of Instruction Operations and Maintenance funds. Purchases were made from Mackin Library Media in FY19 for the elementary classroom libraries in all 57 elementary schools for $1,174,571.00, and in FY20 for all high school classroom libraries for $708,164.00. The last time a significant division-level purchase was made for classroom libraries was in FY15, when $695,000 was spent on middle school classroom libraries. Only middle school classroom libraries were purchased at that time.
What decisions have been made regarding books being challenged at the division level?