Laura Beals D'Elia, School Librarian
Armstrong Elementary School Library
It just so happened that 3 years ago when I started my position at the Armstrong Elementary School, the district also relocated the K-12 ELL Director, Maeve Hitzenbuhler, to the tiny office in my library. And it just so happened that I had been to enough of Judi Paradis’s ELL conference sessions about her relationship with her ELL staff that I knew that this was a good thing. And because we were so close to each other every day, it just so happened that Maeve and I began to talk about diversity, picture books, ELL students, and plenty of other interesting topics.
I had been known to occasionally pop into Maeve’s office to show her a new inclusive book I just purchased that I thought she would like. We would “Oooh” and “Ahhh” over it together. When Maeve received grant funding to be used specifically for books for her department and programs, she asked me if I had any thoughts about which books to purchase? Because I follow lots of amazing people who are tuned into diverse and inclusive literature, I sure did have lots of thoughts! In fact, I offered to put a list together and even offered to order the books through my vendor which gives me great discounts. Now every time she has access to funding for books she comes to me first.
We would often lament that we wished staff used more of these gorgeous picture books in their classrooms and that’s when we decided to offer a district course called “The Many Voices Diversity Book Club: Connect Your Curriculum to Students Through Inclusive Literature and Themes.” Everytime we offer the course, we receive funding from the district out of the PD budget to purchase more inclusive picture books. The course is a lovely combination of Maeve’s expertise in English language learning and teaching and my knowledge of inclusive children’s literature.
As a result, my library is now the proud home of the district’s Diversity Literature Collection. The books do not belong to the Armstrong library collection; they are not catalogued. Instead, I created a spreadsheet and labeled each book so that staff can visit the library and sign out any book from the collection that they would like to use. This collection will continue to grow as the relationship with my ELL Director grows. It is already a beautiful collection and I am looking forward to seeing what titles we will add in the future.