This year, Reach Out and Read Wisconsin is placing a renewed focus on the importance of representation, diversity, and inclusion in the books clinics order for their well-child visits. To accomplish this goal, we are working on many levels:
- Serving on the Reach Out and Read National Center book committee to voice our desire to increase the options for more affordable, diverse books for clinics to order
- Providing book recommendations in our bi-weekly newsletter that celebrate and create diverse readers
- Fundraising for the Windows and Mirrors initiative
- Sharing resources like the Diverse and Inclusive book list from Reach Out and Read and the American Academy of Pediatrics
- Ongoing conversations at Reach Out and Read Wisconsin site visits about the importance of ordering a variety of books even if your primary patient population is English speaking and White.
Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin has already taken this mission to heart and is providing diverse books to all families served at it’s six Madison-area clinics. Recently, one of their providers, Megan Gendel, NP, and system’s Reach Out and Read coordinator shared why ordering diverse books was important to them, even though most of the population they serve is predominantly White and English speaking.
“As a provider here, I really feel it’s important for us to make sure we have diversity in books, actually even more important in some respects so our families and our children that we serve are seeing different aspects of life through literature,” said Gendel.
They also shared some tips for ordering diverse books:
- The clinic coordinator may not always know the families being seen in the clinic. Ask the providers about the family dynamics. For instance, ordering books that show kids being raised by grandparents, stepparents, single parents, gay and lesbian parents, are refugees or are part of mixed-race families.
- Share bilingual books with English speaking families as well. Celebrate the joy of other cultures.
- Be mindful of gender stereotypes when ordering books. Some favorite classics (and even some new books) may not best reflect current trends.
The full webinar can be accessed here.
Books are a wonderful tool that allow kids to see themselves in the story while also providing opportunities to learn about others and their experiences. We believe all kids should be represented in books and have the opportunity to learn empathy and kindness for others via the books clinics provide.