They came to the CCBC in two groups of fifteen, ready to read. In preparation, I had set out a few dozen picture books and easy readers. Most of them were selected from CCBC Choices 2014 and from past winners of the Charlotte Zolotow Award.
We do this all the time when we host groups of college students, teachers, and librarians. We surround our visitors with good books, face out, that reflect the diversity we see in the world. It's always interesting to see what books people gravitate toward.
I asked the Sugar Creek first graders to take a look around. Did they see any books they recognized? "Each Kindness," one girl said. "Our teacher read it to us." Any others? They took a good look around, taking their job seriously. Lots of head shaking. "No." "I don't think so."
"Do you see any books you want to read?" Lots of nodding. A few excited children jumped up to point at the books they wanted me to read. Here's what they chose by consensus:
What Can You Do with a Paleta? by Carmen Tafolla.
Mi familia calaca / My Skeleton Family by Cynthia Weill (both groups chose it)
The Dark by Lemony Snicket (both groups chose it)
Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Meshon
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson ("We already know we like it," explained one boy.)
On this day that saw the launch of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, I saw first hand, in not one group but two, that given choices, young children themselves will choose diversity. And they all find underwear really, really funny, no matter who is wearing it.