Diverse Books: OLA jot notes

February 21, 2017 at 1:00 pm Leave a comment

The 7th and final post from Natalie C., one of our fabulous reference librarian who attended this year’s OLA super conference – and who obviously enjoyed many sessions during her 3 days there.


One of my favourite sessions from last year’s Super Conference was a panel hosted by Teacher-Librarian Fatma Faraj on the importance of promoting children’s books reflective of diverse populations – #WeHaveDiverseBooks. You can read my blog post on last year’s session here.

This year, Fatma hosted the session solo and highlighted some of the best diverse Canadian children’s books that have come out in the last year.

Starting the Conversation: Fatma suggests using What Makes Us Unique? by Jillian Roberts to get the diversity discussion started. While the book may be a bit general, she suggests using it as a launchpad before moving to more specific texts.  You can borrow What Makes Us Unique? from the Professional Library.

Finding Yourself & Fitting In: Fatma tells her students that “exploring is not always about what we find in the world. It’s also about what we find in ourselves.” She suggests Bear’s Winter Party by Deborah Hodge and Akilak’s Adventure by Deborah Kigjugalik Webster for readers in need of some internal discovery

Getting Kids Hooked: To get children interested in an ongoing story featuring diverse characters, Fatma recommends two series:

    • West Meadow Detectives by Liam O’Donnell: This series features a protagonist who has autism. The author is also one of TDSB’s Writers in Residence. Encourage your students to submit a book review to Just Read It and your school could win a visit from Liam.
    • Shu-Li by Paul Yee: A touching series featuring strong multicultural relationships

New Homes: With the recent refugee ban issued by our neighbours to the south, it’s going to be important to find texts that explore immigration and emigration thoughtfully. Fatma suggests Adrift at Sea by Marsha Skrypuch, Stepping Stones by Margaret Ruurs, and Seeking Refuge by Irene N. Watts.

Indigenous Stories: Fatma highlighted several texts featuring Indigenous characters. Some to note:



Fatma singled out I Am Not a Number, which you can borrow from the Professional Library and When We Were Alone, which she says will make you cry.

Forest of Reading;  If you’re looking for texts featuring diverse characters that your students are already reading, Fatma suggests that you look no further than the current Forest of Reading selections, especially this year’s Silver Birch picks. She points out OCDaniel by Wesley King specifically saying that “If you want to build empathy in your kids, have them read OCDaniel.”

A Few Other Special Picks: A couple other texts mentioned in Fatma’s talk:


For more great reads from Fatma Faraj, follow her on Twitter at @HoldFastLibrary

Whew, great job Natalie!

Entry filed under: Books, Library. Tags: , .

Fraser Institute 2017 Report Card on secondary schools March issue of Professionally Speaking available online

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