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June 11, 2020

Diversity in Children’s Books Can Help With Comprehension, Interest

Originally posted on NBCDFW

Diversity and inclusion is an important part of everyday life. Interacting and communicating with people who don’t look like us is crucial.

The same is true when it comes to your child’s bookcase.

Malik Stewart, program director with literacy advocates Reading Partners North Texas, said to ask yourself, are the characters representative of all society.

“People are interested in reading. They just need to see themselves in the pages,” Stewart said. “If you never have to think about it, it’s never an issue. If you ever watch a child pick up a book that reflects them or if you ever watch a family pick up a book with their language in it you can see the difference.”

He said seeing themselves in the books can help with comprehension as they are more engaged and immersed in the story.

Stewart said he has seen it first hand, working with a young student in particular.

“We were getting ready to read and she saw a book about Harriet Tubman and she asked questions and wanted more information. She says the book on her own and she saw the reflection of herself. She started to talk to her reading partner, which was me at the time, and she asked if she could take it because she was really interested. It does help bridge the gap. It helps to pique their interest when they can see themselves in the pages.”

Reading Partners North Texas is a nonprofit dedicated to helping young students across the country read on grade level. They have helped the NBC 5 Reading With You initiative compile a summer reading list for kids grades Kindergarten through fifth grade. Those books include fiction and non-fiction and come in English and Spanish titles.

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