New Classroom Libraries Reflect Diversity of LCPS Students and Community

 

Loudoun County Public Schools, as part of its core beliefs, is committed to creating an inclusive, safe, caring, and challenging learning environment that serves as the foundation for student growth. In fulfilling that mission, LCPS recently invested in book collections for elementary and secondary classroom libraries, to expand the availability of diverse books for students at all grade levels. Purchases for middle school classroom libraries are pending. These books bring more equity, inclusion, and diversity into classroom libraries.

 

The books provided in the classroom libraries are meant to give access to literature that reflect and honor the student population that exists in Loudoun. They are not required reading material nor are they included in instruction without clear ties to the lesson, as with all use of literature.

 

More information about the collections is available here, including some frequently asked questions.

 

Among the collections purchased this year are many award-winning books which feature main characters who are people of color and of a variety of cultures. For example, Mommy's Khimar, by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, is in the elementary collection. It’s the story of a young African American Muslim girl trying on her mother's headscarf, called a khimar or hijab. “Charming and vibrant illustrations showcase the beauty of the diverse and welcoming community in this portrait of a young Muslim American girl’s life,” according to one review. This title was named a 2018 Best Book by National Public Radio, Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal and Shelf Awareness.

 

Another featured title, in the secondary collection, is Booked, by Kwame Alexander. In this story 12-year-old Nick loves soccer and hates books, but soon learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams.

 

Marcello in the Real World, by Francisco X. Stork, shares the story of a young man with a “cognitive disorder” who one reviewer called “the bravest, most original hero I've met in years.” The book has been published in 17 countries and received a Young Adult Library Service Association “Top 10 Best Books” award in 2010.

 

Other books in the collections have won Caldecott honors, Young Reader awards, American Library Association prizes and other recognitions for literary achievements.

 

The process for selecting these books followed a typical procedure used when curating books. Supervisors of English Language Arts and Media Services worked with teachers, librarians and publishing companies to create the independent-reading libraries. Many of the titles selected for the classroom libraries already exist in our LCPS school libraries.

 

More than 99 percent of the books selected for elementary classroom collections comprise titles that reflect diverse races, cultures, languages, religions, and disabilities/abilities, as do more than 95 percent of the secondary collections. The remaining titles reflect diversity based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

 

A few parents have requested that some of the new titles be reviewed. LCPS’ process for reviewing instructional materials requires a parent or guardian to submit a request to the principal of their child’s school. In addition, LCPS staff at times reviews the “leveling” -- elementary, middle, or high school -- of instructional materials when appropriate. For example, Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender, which is recommended for readers in the 3rd through 7th grades, was recently releveled from elementary school to middle school following a committee review.

 

Books from diverse cultures and backgrounds are not new in LCPS classrooms, libraries, and schools, and this purchase enhanced the availability of diverse books for our students. LCPS will continue to work to ensure students have access to award-winning, culturally responsive, contemporary books for all.