BY MARY ANN CAPPIELLO on behalf of The Biography Clearinghouse
As we approach the final quarter of 2020, fires rage along the West Coast. Many regions of the United States face drought conditions. Gulf communities are inundated by Hurricane Sally while a string of storms line up in the Atlantic, waiting their turn. The impact of climate change is evident.
COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on our lives, our health. We bear witness to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on minoritized groups, including Black and Latinx communities, Native Americans, and the elderly.
Across America, Black Lives Matter protests carry on, demanding that our nation invest in the essential work necessary to achieve a more perfect union through racial justice.
In 2020, we remember moments of historic change, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.
The intensity of this moment can’t be denied. It’s demanding. It’s exhausting. Whether you are a teacher, librarian, or university faculty member, you are likely teaching in multiple new formats and modalities, facing daily logistical challenges. Caregivers also face new hurdles in supporting young people’s learning.
How do you meet the needs of students and the needs of this moment in history? How do you find hope in literature?
Perhaps one way is to turn to the people of the past and the present who are working on the edges of scientific knowledge. Or, to turn to the people of the past and the present who have acted as champions of social justice. Their life stories offer young people models of agency and action, blueprints for change.
To that end, The Biography Clearinghouse shares 20 biographies for 2020, a list of recent picturebook and collected biographies to connect with the challenges of the moment. This list is not comprehensive. It is simply a starting place. We hope these recently published biographies of diverse changemakers can become part of your curriculum or part of your read aloud calendar, in-person or over video conferencing software.
Biographies About Scientists
Biographies About Champions for Change
If you have any picture book or chapter-length biographies or collected biographies for young people that you would like to recommend, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re also interested in hearing more about how you’re using life stories in the classroom this year.
Mary Ann Cappiello teaches courses in children’s literature and literacy methods at Lesley University, blogs about teaching with children’s literature at The Classroom Bookshelf, a School Library Journal blog, and is a former chair of NCTE’s Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction K-8.
BY GRACE ENRIQUEZ & DENISE DÁVILA
In the emergency shift to remote learning, educators and parents sought and found a plethora of video read-alouds and digital libraries of children’s books. This heartened us, as these resources offered access to reading material that many children wouldn’t be able to obtain otherwise.
Now that the school year is winding down, and the initial rush to cobble together online books has abated, we take a moment to reflect on the range of online books and resources available for children. Specifically, as educators committed to social justice, we wondered where we could turn to (a) continue sharing children’s literature with our students to support our goals of diversity, inclusion, and equity, and (b) learn more about recently published youth literature created by and for members of minoritized groups. It wasn’t surprising that what is currently available online reflects the massive gap in books about, for, and by diverse communities and underscores the greater need for more diverse books for children overall. In an attempt to close that gap and promote understanding about why diverse books matter--especially now during this global pandemic and in light of the systemic racism, police brutality, and health disparities that our country is currently facing--we have curated a list of online professional guides, blogs, conversations, and other resources.
WEBSITES, BLOGS, & PODCASTS - IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER
Grace Enriquez is a Professor of Language and Literacy at Lesley University and a past recipient of the CLA Research Award.
Denise Dávila is an Assistant Professor of Language and Literacy Studies at the University of Texas, Austin and a CLA member.