Diversity of picture books

Diversity of picture books

On Thursday 24 November, Waikato Picturebook Research Unit (WaiPRU), hosted its inaugural symposium. A number of staff from Services to Schools were lucky enough to attend. The Waikato Picturebook Research Unit is directed by Nicola Daly and co-directed by Janette Kelly who also hosted this event.

The theme of the symposium was ‘Diversity in Picturebooks’. There were 14 presentations, discussing a number of different topics related to the theme.

Insights from presenters

Insights were gained from the presenters into:

  • types of picture books which effectively illustrate ethnicity, including representation of refugee and migrant communities, abilities, family structure and gender roles
  • research on how teachers are using picture books to enable students to engage with stories which relate to their interests and affirm their social and cultural identities, and to gain an understanding of diversity and inclusivity
  • ways that picture books can be used to enrich mathematics programmes for students of diverse abilities and interests and to teach other curriculum areas such as science and social and cultural issues
  • perspective of authors/illustrators involved in creating picture books that reflect diversity
  • issues surrounding the translation of picture books from one language to another, such as English to Māori, and the implications for cultural values and non-stereotypical illustrations, and
  • sources of supply of picture books, including self-publishing, and cataloguing issues for libraries to make those resources accessible to users.

Services to Schools supporting diversity

The New Zealand Curriculum includes Cultural Diversity and Inclusion as principles that underpin the decision making within schools. Rosemary Tisdall, one of Services to Schools reading librarians, presented on National Library’s Services to Schools collection, the largest collection of specialist children’s literature in the Southern Hemisphere and how it supports diversity.  Examples of inquiry loan requests related to this diversity were shared and the types of books you could expect to find in a loan. More information can be found on our website on how to plan your inquiry loan.  

Links to other resources supporting diversity

Other links to resources about picture books are listed below:

  • Promised Land is one of the many picture books mentioned at the symposium and the New Zealand based authors and illustrator share on their website how their story about two princes who fall in love came about.
  • Human Rights in Education Resources is a forum for NZ educators to share ideas, local and international resources, and experiences.
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion lists a range of resources compiled by the American Library Association.
  • Mirrors windows doors promotes children’s and YA books from across the world that highlight cultural and multi-cultural diversity.
  • We need diverse books has links to resources, recommended titles on various themes and tips for aspiring writers

The WaiPRU  website has information about the research unit, published research by the many associates and also provides links to many picture book collections including the NZ Picture Book and NZ Pacific Picture Book collections.

By Mairi Ogilvie

Mairi is a facilitator (National Capability) with Services to Schools.

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