What a week.
Last Tuesday we heard the news out of Baton Rouge, of video of police shooting Alton Sterling after pinning him down outside a convenience store.
Late Wednesday night into Thursday morning, the issue hit us at home in the Twin Cities, as a video circulated of the aftermath of another police shooting. This time, it was Philando Castile, shot during a traffic stop in a suburb just north of St. Paul with his fiancee and her four-year-old daughter in the car. Mr. Castile worked as a foodservice supervisor at an elementary school in St. Paul, and as such, many of us at Lerner had few degrees of separation from him, knowing kids at the school who liked and respected him. Crowds gathered outside the governor's mansion to call for action, and Governor Mark Dayton said that he felt the shooting had to do with Mr. Castile's skin color, giving voice to the issues of racism that Minnesota continues to struggle with.
Then five police officers were gunned down at a protest in Dallas, and our hearts grew ever heavier.
By the time we heard news of two toddlers shot in their minivan in north Minneapolis on Friday, caught in gang-related fire, we were collectively shouting and pleading for the violence to end.
Many eloquent, passionate writers have already given voice to the chaos of emotions these events have raised and potential steps forward our society could take to work toward peace and justice. (Go forth and surf social media for links to enlightening, heart-wrenching, and inspiring pieces, as I'm sure you've already been doing.) I won't attempt to add my own; rather, I just want to point to another area of resources in responding to this week's news.
One of the hardest parts of any contentious national issue may be approaching the subject sensitively and honestly with curious young people. In the Twin Cities, Philando Castile's death especially has brought the issues of systemic racism and gun violence into the arena of our youngest citizens.
Books may be a helpful starting point for discussions with kids and teens about racial violence and justice. In the spirit of cultivating informed and engaged citizens, here are just a few resources you might share with the young people in your home, school, or library--who are most likely curious and eager to have a say as they process the news.
SLJ: Librarian Creates #BlackLivesMatter Booklist for Teenshttp://www.slj.com/2016/07/books-media/librarian-creates-blacklivesmatter-booklist-for-teens/
A librarian for the Hennepin County (MN) Library compiled this list of books that may allow for reflection and conversation around the recent shootings.
Book Healing: What Writers of Color Say We Should Read Now
This list includes titles geared toward adult readers as well as some appropriate for older teens, including If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin (recommended by Shannon Gibney, author of See No Color).
Celebrate Diversity with Lerner Books
Reading diversely provides a broad cultural foundation and can illuminate new perspectives for young readers. This page captures a collection of the diverse, multicultural titles Lerner has published in recent years across fiction and nonfiction, from young picture books to graphic novels to young adult novels.
What other resources have you found helpful in addressing difficult current issues with kids and teens? What resources don't seem to exist that would be helpful? We'd love to know.