Build a collection of illustrated children’s books with the community

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In partnership with the West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WePAC), the Penn Libraries Community Engagement Team has worked for the past six years on efforts to reopen school libraries in the Philadelphia School District, such as the one of the many ways this department works with community organizations in Philadelphia to promote literacy beyond the classroom.

“Tales from the Library” by Ashley Bryan. (Image: courtesy Ashley Bryan Archive / Penn Libraries)

In the process of cataloging books for school libraries and working with elementary students to select titles, Penn’s team of sixteen students discovered the many ways illustrated children’s literature can serve as a tool to solve issues of injustice and center community voices. These efforts led to the development of the “Mirrors Collection”, a list of illustrated children’s books selected and reviewed especially for these libraries and their diverse student populations. Will help inform school library collection development efforts and remain responsive to changing curricula and school needs.

With the help of a community of educators, librarians, authors and illustrators, Penn students have selected books from the “Mirror Collection” that reflect important themes such as social justice, literacy. in health and emotional literacy. The priority is to present books with unique voices that inspire empathy, understanding and comfort. The books in the collection highlight students’ experiences and often deal with topics they would have liked to have had the opportunity to read as children. To close the school year, five seniors and a graduate student from the community engagement team chose one or two books from the “Mirror Collection” that they would like every public school library to have and every student to read.

This story is by Gina Pambianchi. Learn more at Penn Libraries News.


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