#NotOurDiversity

I’m busy preparing for next week’s library lessons. G5 has one of my favourite units in “How We Express Ourselves”

People create messages to target specific audiences

Ostensibly it’s about advertising, as the lines of inquiry indicate,

1. Advertising techniques can be used to influence society (Perspective)
2. Critically evaluating messages presented in the media (Reflection)
3. Ways adverts can cause people to form opinions (Causation)

however to paraphrase and misquote Twain I’ve never let reality get in the way of a good lesson. So I’m loosely interpreting “media” to include books, and advertising to include things like book covers.

My opening salvo last week was “Cover Bias” where we looked at the cover of a book as the way in which it was advertised and I showed the class some more egregious examples of stereotype and bias in the creation of book covers

This week is my chance to tackle something I feel very strongly about – how the concept of children’s book diversity has been cornered by a very specific type of diversity – i.e. the North American type, which to be honest in the lives of my students is #NotOurDiversity. So I’d like to provide a counterbalance to that, as well as to start my students and everything thinking and curating resources that do reflect their diversity.

This is tomorrow’s provocation:

And I’m hoping at the end we can start creating a padlet of the books which they consider to be their mirrors, windows and sliding glass doors.

What do I think their diversity looks like? Some of it is typical to 3CK (3 culture kids), but each place I’ve lived has delivered its own nuance:

  • Product of multi- cultural / linguistic parentage and heritage (including multi-racial if that is even a term that is at all relevant – I don’t think it is to them, but probably in other contexts, countries it would be)
  • Multi-national residential where home is defined more by current location of self, parents and siblings than by family and passport
  • Financial privilege that transcends typical migrant / immigrant issues and trauma
  • Underlying uncertainty on matters of identity and lack of sense of “place”
  • High expectations of resilience, grit and adaptability to constant change

Before anyone thinks that the market is too small to matter for book publishing for example should have a look at the numbers – 56.8m people estimated by 2017 and even more importantly the demographics of expatriation has changed dramatically and will continue to change – no more British administrator, the reality is more likely to be an Indian IT specialist or Korean Engineer. And so too our literature should be evolving to provide their children in international education the mirrors, windows and doors they are entitled to.

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