Better Books

A group of school children in blue uniform are making a sculpture by putting 3D shapes together

We’ve been working with Nottingham Citizens for a more inclusive and equitable education system and curriculum for Nottingham’s young people, teachers and families. More information about the partnership and their work can be found here.

The campaign for Better Books aimed to provide all Primary schools with a set of culturally diverse reading books, so that all children’s identities are represented and celebrated, and their experiences better acknowledged.

To celebrate a successful campaign and the arrival of the new books in schools, we made some resources to encourage children and teachers to explore and use the books in their classrooms.

Activities are designed to encourage a love of books and support listening and the sharing and valuing of perspectives. We also worked with storyteller, Alison Solomon to bring some of the books to life and encourage children to connect with themes through discussion and writing.

Further resources to support discussion around Alison’s selection of books are available online. A short film with the author of Ghost Boys, Jewell Parker Rhodes is available here and an Educator’s Guide is here. Resources for Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o are here.

Some of the themes in the Better Books collection are challenging. Below are some recommendations and links to support teachers to support students:

Prepare yourself – Be familiar with the books. Anticipate how children might respond verbally in their reflections and questions and emotionally. Be ready for these conversations. Do some work to know yourself and address your own gaps in knowledge and bias.

Learn more about being anti-racist here and here. Educators, especially those who are of white ethnicities can learn more about unpicking their own experiences here.

Create your environment – Create a culture where children feel listened to and respected; that feels safe to share an experience, opinion or question; where children can be confident that hurtful words and actions are challenged; where there is a practice of constructive discussion and where children know that it’s ok to not know or to make a mistake.

Learn more about developing learning environments here and school and classroom cultures here and here.

Bring tools, techniques and support – This might be a set of questions, strategies to encourage responses and build confidence or a glossary. Think about how you will close a discussion and the further support children might need.

Some strategies for the classroom are here, a glossary is here and resources for all ages are here.

Click here for written resources and templates.

Credits

Anti-Defamation League. Book of the Month. (Sulwe. Lupita Nyong'o).
https://www.adl.org/media/14005/download

Anti-Defamation League. Education Glossary Terms. https://www.adl.org/education/resources/glossary-terms/education-glossary-terms

Anti-Defamation League. Creating an Anti-Bias Learning Environment.
https://www.adl.org/education/resources/tools-and-strategies/creating-an-anti-bias-learning-environment#.VafFgflVhHw

Book Trust. Jewell Parker Rhodes on the plot of her book Ghost Boys. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgIRRZque6M

Augusta Baker Chair & Dr Nicole A.Cooke. Anti-Racism Resources for All Ages. University of South Carolina. https://padlet.com/nicolethelibrarian/nbasekqoazt336co?fbclid=IwAR1DIVv-uOLZtNqiK-trDDmKGyXavFEpOlLKbF0ga-2aZ2Z8gI32Qy7pBQg

Ibram X. Kendi. The difference between being not racist and antiracist. TED. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCxbl5QgFZw

Julie Landsman. Helping Students Discuss Race Openly. ascd. https://www.ascd.org/el/articles/helping-students-discuss-race-openly

Learning for Justice. Community Inquiry - 18 Teaching Strategies. https://www.learningforjustice.org/classroom-resources/teaching-strategies/community-inquiry

Peggy McIntosh. White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. https://codeofgoodpractice.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Mcintosh-White-Privilege-Unpacking-the-Invisible-Knapsack.pdf

National Museum of African American History and Culture. Being Antiracist. https://nmaahc.si.edu/learn/talking-about-race/topics/being-antiracist

Rebekah Shoaf, Steven Jozef & contributors Educator Guide, (Ghost Boys. Jewell Parker Rhodes). Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers. http://jewellparkerrhodes.com/children/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/GHOST-BOYS-Educator-Guide-FINAL.pdf

The University of Tennessee Chattanooga, Office of Equity and Inclusion. Guide for Navigating Difficult Conversations on Race. https://www.utc.edu/sites/default/files/2020-08/UTC%20Race%20Discussion%20Guide%20%28Aug%202020%29.pdf