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Latina Publishers

Latina Publishers call for cultural diversity in children’s books this upcoming Read Across America Day

As educators prepare for Read Across America Day on March 2, children’s book buyers are invited to a “Meet Latina Publishers” live virtual event Feb 10th.

— Independent publishers suggest less Seuss and more literature that reflects America’s diverse student populations —

Across the nation, shopping for books and other preparations are underway for the annual community celebration of literacy.

Three independent press owners, all mothers, and authors of color ask educators and parents to pause and ask this question: Do these books reflect the diversity of the students I serve?

Sandra Gonzalez-Mora, Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, and Naibe Reynoso are all founders of independent publishing companies. They are social entrepreneurs, investing their energy, time, and money to offer children’s book buyers and communities across the USA innovative literature that more accurately reflects them, their language, their culture, and their world.

These three publishers invite curriculum directors, librarians, teachers, and parents to gather for a live Meet Latina Publishers Zoom chat on February 10th from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific to learn more about their work.

REGISTER for the event here: https://bit.ly/3GtOwNz

They are leading the impassioned, national movement demanding a shift in how school districts buy books, typically from large incumbent publishers slow to respond to the needs of a minority-majority student population.

Latina publisher and author, Sandra Gonzalez-Mora shares bilingual stories with young readers. (Photo source)

Graciela Tiscareño-Sato said, “In August 2014, in an Education Week article titled U.S. School Enrollment Hits Majority-Minority Milestone, we learned that ‘Latino, African-American, and Asian students in public K-12 classrooms were expected to surpass the number of non-Hispanic whites.’ The questions educators and parents must ask themselves are these: WHY haven’t more buyers of curriculum materials, books in classrooms and books in school libraries kept up with our schools’ demographic changes? WHY haven’t institutional buyers sought out indie publishers like us who have been ahead of the curve creating ground-breaking literature that reflects and inspires our diverse student populations?”

How can books in classrooms and public libraries across the country better reflect the diversity within the communities they serve? With Latinos accounting for about half (52%) of all U.S. population growth between 2010 and 2019, this question becomes much more critical. Latinos are the country’s second-largest ethnic group, behind white non-Hispanics, a fact not currently reflected in the children’s books that circulate in public and school libraries and classrooms.

Latina Publishers,

Sandra Gonzalez-Mora, M.Ed., award-winning author and publisher and founder of Skillful & Soulful Press. (Photo source)

“Latinx-owned publishing companies are galvanizing to change this landscape in the children’s publishing industry, it’s time,” said Sandra Gonzalez-Mora, author and owner of Skillful & Soulful Press.

2020 data on books by and about Black, Indigenous, and People of Color published for children and teens compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC), School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison state that out of the 3,115 books they received from U.S. publishers, only 212 books were written by Latinx authors and 191 books were about Latinx characters.

“Latinos are almost 20% of the population but we are largely invisible across all forms of media,” said journalist and Con Todo Press publisher, Naibe Reynoso. “This is a disservice not only to our community but it’s a missed educational opportunity for all classrooms.”

It is clear from the data collected by the CCBC year after year that traditional publishing is comfortably holding the status quo that isn’t serving all children in this country. The approach these women are taking to help children’s literature become more inclusive and reflective of U.S demographics is to write, illustrate, publish, and market their unique stories, often in multiple languages.

You might be interested: Ronit Shiro shares the gift of bilingualism with children through FeppyBox

Latina publishers call educators, librarians, and parents to action! (Photo source)

March 2 is Read Across America Day. This day is synonymous with books by Dr. Seuss, considered classics, which are created by white authors about white children and white families.

This year, these Latina creators have a call to action: they encourage more teachers and librarians across the USA to think about the young faces of students they serve and to intentionally purchase stories that represent them, reflect their communities and ambitions, and recognize their undeniable value across America.


About Gracefully Global, LLC: 

Since 2010 Gracefully Global Group LLC has published award-winning, educational literature and digital classroom content for K-12 school districts worldwide. Literary properties include the following award-winning titles: 1. Good Night Captain Mama / Buenas Noches Capitán Mamá and Captain Mama’s Surprise / La Sorpresa de Capitán Mamá -the first-ever children’s book series created in two languages where Mamá is flying a military jet, Latinnovating: Green American Jobs and the Latinos Creating Them, and for the military community B.R.A.N.D. Before Your Resumé: Your Marketing Guide for Veterans & Military Service Members Entering Civilian Life. See our offerings at https://www.gracefullyglobal.com/commerce 

About Skillful & Soulful Press:

Skillful & Soulful Press is a Latina-owned publishing company in Whittier, CA. We publish bilingual children’s books that celebrate languages and help develop children’s early literacy and language skills by introducing them to robust vocabulary words during family reading moments. Our small business is addressing the need to offer more diverse books, written and illustrated by people of color, that introduce young children to exciting new words in languages other than English. See our offerings at: https://www.skillfulandsoulful.com/shop

About Con Todo Press:

Established in 2018, Con Todo Press is a Latina-owned publishing company that creates children’s books that celebrate diverse cultures and highlight Latino leaders to help fill the gap in the publishing industry, where Latino stories are vastly under-represented. Con Todo Press has published many award-winning books including “Be Bold, Be Brave: 11 Latinas who made U.S. History,” and “Fearless Trailblazers.” See our offerings at https://www.contodopress.com

bullying, antibullying, students,

Bullying online became bigger during the pandemic and added more concern

Leah Kyaio is a Professional Development Trainer, specializing in the area of diversity and inclusion. She is the CEO of With Respect, LLC, which provides unique expertise, experience, and tools for engaging resistance within the workforce as well as issues where previous diversity work has resulted in divisiveness, violence, or toxic work environments.

Below, Leah shares her expertise on navigating the topic of bullying for minority students during the pandemic, both online and offline. 


Leah Kyaio, personal development trainer and CEO of With Respect, LLC. (Photo courtesy Leah Kyaio)

Throughout the pandemic, children have struggled with keeping connections to their peers strong and healthy. Bullying has always been a concern among school-aged children, and that didn’t just disappear as schools shut down and moved to largely virtual instruction. 

 With the tech-savviness of today’s children, adolescents, and teens, bullying online (cyberbullying) has added a new level of concern for parents and schools. Research indicates that cyberbullying has increased during the pandemic. Bullying online is harder to control, and in most cases the things posted online are out there forever. 

With old-fashioned, offline bullying and cyberbullying remaining an issue even throughout the COVID pandemic, it’s up to parents, teachers, and administrators to pay attention and brainstorm ways to curb the problem.

Minority students often experience a level of bullying that differs from their white peers. According to studies, racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to experience alienation and loneliness, especially in a virtual school environment where isolation is a factor for everyone. As the diversity of schools continues to expand, inclusion takes more and more of a front seat in conversations. This raises the stakes of managing issues like cyberbullying. 

The Sins of the Fathers (and Mothers)

Not only were children grappling with a historic pandemic, but the summer of 2020 brought a civil rights reckoning on the heels of instances of police brutality against the black community. Black Lives Matter and Critical Race Theory started to appear in the news frequently, causing rifts in thought and opinion. Within these heated discussions, the idea of equity in the classroom came under fire. As children watched adults battle it out on and offline, the influence bled into their thoughts and words. As has always been true, children’s actions mirrored that of the world around them. Add to that the stress of the pandemic society and it is logical that cyberbullying increased.  

“It’s integral for quelling bullying to open conversations regarding equity, acceptance, and understanding various minority experiences,” says Leah. (Photo courtesy Leah Kyaio)

Opening the conversation on systemic racism seemed to give license to a myriad of implicit and explicit biases, with students of color more and more in the crosshairs, showing up as questions, crass statements, emphasis on stereotypes, and Oppression Olympics (“I’m more oppressed than you because….”). 

The Internet is Forever 

 Emerging science suggests people’s brains are not done developing until age 25. Kids and teens often show a lack of understanding of the permanency of posts online. They live their lives in social media circles, and whatever they may be experiencing, from pandemic shutdowns to racial tension, peppers their interactions. The result is they have little connection to the idea that what they type today may come back in not-so-good ways later. 

Teaching Respect 

 When working with students, I teach the tools of maintaining respect, not because I like you, accept you, or even know you, but because we are all human. Taking our lives online runs the risk of diminishing our human-ness, in some ways. Students are far more likely to say things and engage in bullying behavior they would never dream of doing in person. The anonymity that virtual interactions sometimes provide leads to harsher words, greater criticisms, and discriminatory actions. 

It’s integral for quelling bullying to open conversations regarding equity, acceptance, and understanding various minority experiences. The more students understand one another and listen to the stories of their peers, the more compassion and empathy they learn and demonstrate. This instruction should include how to ask questions and stay curious as well as learning the antidote to the language of shame, blame, and judgment. It is the art of emphasizing how words, online and off, can hurt and how to state opinions without making enemies. 

You might be interested: Why words matter: The negative impacts of racial microaggressions

Creating a safe environment for students to learn about one another and speak openly about issues is integral to mitigating the issue of bullying. Compassion and grace are required if there is to be any expectation of change. We can do this by reminding our children that the rules of respect apply to their behavior online as well as offline, that if they wouldn’t say it to a person in front of them, they shouldn’t type it.  

anti-bullying,

“When working with students, I teach the tools of maintaining respect, not because I like you, accept you, or even know you, but because we are all human.” (Photo courtesy Leah Kyaio)

As adults, it is important to remember the trauma that bullying and prejudice can cause and recognize how much more vulnerable minority students become in the virtual world. This can be one of our primary motivations to teach all students how to be respectful.

 Educational institutions are becoming increasingly more diverse related to sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, immigration status, gender identity, and creed. Institutions need to have a secure plan that includes compassion and education to decrease instances of bullying online and off and to support students in learning to manage their virtual experience with respect and dignity.  

About Leah Kyaio

Leah identifies as Two-Skinned, having a Blackfoot mother—a Native American Tribe—and an Appalachian white father. Her early childhood experiences gave her insight into the privilege provided by the white skin she wears. That same early experience and trauma made clear the connection of the historical trauma of her Native heritage. With that early lived experience of white privilege and seeing the disparities across race, gender, and class, she recognized her unique position to be able to speak and teach the tools necessary to engage in deeper conversations in the forever process of mitigating the impacts of systemic oppression. That’s where With Respect LLC was born. Through her business, she does diversity differently, finding that by teaching tools of respect and belonging, the consequential behavior changes lead to dignity and respect across all the -isms.

latino students

So-called ‘good’ suburban schools often require trade-offs for Latino students

Gabriel Rodriguez, an educational researcher who focuses on suburban-urban education, interviewed Latino and Latina students about their experiences of belonging at suburban public high schools.

Many Americans think of the suburbs as exclusive enclaves for white, middle-class people. Yet reality paints a different picture. In recent decades suburbs across the country have rapidly become more socioeconomically, ethnically and racially diverse.

In fact, since 2010 most people in the U.S. – including people of color – call suburbia home.

Pew Research Center notes that 175 million people live in suburban and small metropolitan areas, while 144 million live in either rural or urban counties. The Latino community has played a pivotal role in spurring these changes.

As an educational researcher who focuses on suburban-urban education, Latino education and racial inequality in schooling, I have interviewed Latino and Latina students about their experiences of belonging at suburban public high schools. Their reflections shine a light on how schools can better support these youth and other students of color.

Opportunity gaps

One in four public school students in the U.S. is Latino, with 40% of Latino students attending a suburban public school. Yet much of what researchers know about Latino students is based on urban schools.

The broader research on students of color attending suburban schools, however, highlights academic and social trade-offs they face. For example, students of color at predominantly white suburban schools must contend with opportunity hoarding – when those with privileged backgrounds build upon their advantages by accumulating more of them. This takes shape, for example, when white parents push to get their children into high-level courses or hire private tutors.

While parents want what is best for their child, these actions can expand inequality, as not all families are able to navigate schools with the same confidence or ease as parents with racial and socioeconomic privilege.

This has led to Latino high school students being viewed as less capable by peers and teachers, being excluded from honors classes and enduring frequent microaggressions.

For example, Claudia, a Latina student at a racially diverse high school in a working-class community outside of Chicago, shared, “I wish people knew more about us beyond stereotypes.” She recalled peers saying, “Oh, you’re Latina? You don’t look like a Latina.” As Claudia noted, comments like that treat Latino students as a monolith.

Pressure to assimilate

Another challenge that students I spoke with frequently cited was feeling like they had to downplay parts of their identities to fit in and succeed academically.

Research highlights that this is a result of teachers and school leaders trying to change or “fix” Latino students and other students of color. Alternatively, schools could empower students to be proud of their cultures and home languages.

latino students,

Photo by Keira Burton from Pexels

On the social front, Latino students often find refuge with other Latino students. “I feel more comfortable with Latino students because I’m not competing with anyone,” said Michelle, who attended a predominantly white and well-funded school outside of Chicago. “It’s just easier to talk to them because they’re not gonna judge me ‘cause they know the things I’ve gone through.”

When students of color congregate with one another, teachers and administrators can struggle to understand why they self-segregate, often away from white students. However my research shows these decisions are often acts of self-perseverence and opportunities to be their authentic selves.

Silenced by whiteness

Roberto, a classmate of Michelle’s, spoke about how the whiteness of his school created moments where he silenced himself.

“Sometimes teachers would see someone who is quiet, someone who kept to himself,” he said. “But then at other times they would see someone who is intelligent, someone who speaks his own mind. Someone who does whatever he wants.”

Teachers may view silence as disengagement from learning, but for students like Roberto, being silent can be an act of resistance and survival. Being in a mostly white school was difficult, and he felt his perspectives were not always valued.

For example, he and other students in my research spoke about teachers seeking to motivate them to do better academically but at the same time implying they were not trying hard enough.

Students like Roberto also wrestled with stereotype threat – when negative stereotypes about their race, gender or other identity increases pressure on them to perform academically. Latino students spoke about having to represent their Latino community, and how making a mistake in class could confirm negative perceptions about them.

‘We have hella stories’

The young people I interviewed also spoke about moments they perceived to be treated differently than their white counterparts. As Mia put it, “Special treatment has to do with the power white students have.”

Mia’s experiences taught her that white students were valued and believed over Latino students. This is supported by research, which illustrates the power white students and families wield in schools.

[Insight, in your inbox each day. You can get it with The Conversation’s email newsletter.]

latino students,

Photo by Yan Krukov from Pexels

The students also wanted their peers and teachers to acknowledge their complex lives and ambitions. As a student named Claudia put it: “We have hella stories. I’m sorry to say, but we do.”

Samuel spoke about his teachers not understanding his need to work a job after school. “Teachers say you decide school or work,” he said. “Some get mad at us for not doing the [school]work and thinking we’re lazy.”

While there’s growing recognition of the importance of grit – the ability to persevere in difficult situations – research finds that Latino students and other students of color often already possess it, and educators should consider making things easier for them instead.

Many of the students highlighted their appreciation of their teachers’ efforts to support them academically and socially. In talking about one teacher, a student named Chris noted, “She really likes talking about what’s happening in the world right now. She even asks us about the school: ‘Do the teachers treat you right?’ I know that she cares about us.”

Listening to Latino students can guide teachers and policymakers on how to enact culturally relevant practices that combat educational disparities and build upon young people’s cultural and linguistic assets.The Conversation

You might be interested: 3 Latina teachers in their toughest moments face complex cultural challenges


Written by Gabriel Rodriguez, Assistant Professor, Iowa State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

teachers, latina teacher, students

3 Latina teachers in their toughest moments face complex cultural challenges

Teresa Sosa, Associate Professor of Education, discusses the complex cultural challenges facing new teachers as she shares the stories of 3 Latina teachers in their toughest moments.

Gun control. Hallway decorations. Hairstyles.

Those aren’t the things I expected to be stumbling blocks for three Latina educators that I helped prepare to become schoolteachers in recent years. But each situation came up in their classroom or in the course of their jobs at various elementary and middle schools in the state of Indiana, where I teach. Their situations are indicative of a time in our society when we are called to more closely pay attention to issues of racism and social justice.

I’m tracking these former students – along with three others – as part of a study I am doing on the first-year experiences of Latina teachers. As an educator who helps prepare future school teachers, I believe these experiences help shine light on some of the expectations that students, parents and school administrators might sometimes have of classroom teachers. Conversely, my research also shows some of the culturally dicey situations that schoolteachers may have to navigate once they get a classroom of their own.

teachers, latina teacher, students

Photo by Alena Darmel from Pexels

On a broader level, my research shows the complex interactions that can take place within schools with student bodies that are becoming increasingly diverse.

With that in mind, here are three examples based on the experiences of three former students of mine in their first year of teaching. All names in the following examples are pseudonyms.

Gun control

When Ms. Raymond, a sixth grade social studies teacher, discussed the Second Amendment, Mary, a white female student, expressed her view that Democrats wanted to take everyone’s guns away and that people needed guns in their home for protection.

Ms. Raymond clarified that some people want to see laws passed that make guns less accessible. That same day, Mary’s parents reached out to Ms. Raymond and insisted she meet with them in person. After Ms. Raymond refused to meet in person due to COVID-19 restrictions and her own sense of safety, the parents refused to meet via Zoom or discuss it over the telephone and instead explained their concerns via a messaging app the school uses for teachers and parents to communicate.

Mary’s parents claimed in their messages to Ms. Raymond that Mary felt Ms. Raymond is biased against her opinions and prevents her from stating them by not calling on her. They said Ms. Raymond should allow all students to speak their opinions, even if she doesn’t agree with them, which Ms. Raymond believes she does. They also insisted Ms. Raymond not speak to their child individually because she feels “threatened” by Ms. Raymond. They asked that the homeroom teacher, a white male teacher, be present during any further one-on-one interactions with Mary. The principal agreed that the student should be accommodated in order to make her feel more comfortable.

Ms. Raymond believes this is a move to undermine her position as a teacher. It also serves to uphold the stereotype of Latinas as being loud, hot-tempered and volatile, as indicated in the suggestion that she made the student feel “threatened.”

Hallway decorations

Ms. Sanchez teaches in a school district where the dual language program is prominently featured on the district’s website. And with good reason. The teachers in this program have gone above and beyond to make the students feel welcomed and part of the school community.

Behind the scenes, however, the principal told the teachers in the program – including Ms. Sanchez – that they couldn’t do certain activities, such as decorating the school hallways with student work, unless they involved the other teachers in the same grade level but who are not part of the program. This happened after those teachers – veteran white teachers – complained that they weren’t being invited to participate in dual language program activities. As a practical matter, Ms. Sanchez says this means the dual language program has to involve white teachers who know neither the students nor the program.

latina teachers,

Photo by Alena Darmel from Pexels

The irony of the situation, according to Ms. Sanchez, is that the non-Spanish-speaking teachers were always welcome to participate in the dual language program activities – they just didn’t want to stay after school to do it.

In effect, while the district promotes the dual language program on its website to create an image of diversity and inclusion, the dual language program in Ms. Sanchez’s school has little autonomy, and she feels it is subjected to white surveillance and control.

Hairstyles

During a sixth grade science lesson that was fully online due to the pandemic, several Black girls began to comment on the hair of a white student, Amy, because her hair was braided in small cornrows with beads, seemingly in emulation of a hairstyle typically worn by Black girls.

“Ms. Gonzales, do you think Amy is culturally appropriating right now?” one Black female student asked.

Rather than address the matter on the spot, Ms. Gonzales told her students that these types of conversations are important and that they would address it two days later.

teachers, student, online learning

Photo by Katerina Holmes from Pexels

That day, Ms. Gonzales spoke with her team and the principal. Her team concluded that this is a conversation that obviously matters to their Black female students and that waiting two days to talk to them was too long. The principal agreed, adding that racial equality is a key part of their school and the only way to show students this is by hearing their voices.

She also spoke with Amy, the white student who explained that she just loved her friend’s braids and wanted to style her hair the same way, so she had her aunt do her hair. After watching a couple of videos and reading a book with Ms. Gonzales about Black hair, Amy came to realize how it could offend some of her Black peers. Ms. Gonzales also spoke with Amy’s mother, who was supportive and understood why Black students were offended.

Before getting into the full conversation of cultural appropriation, the class discussed what it meant to “pull people in” kindly to these kinds of conversations and not singling people out. Ms. Gonzales also discussed a bit of how Black women’s hair has been discriminated against, historically as well as in contemporary times.

She also brought in opinions from Black friends and colleagues on how they feel about white people wearing Black hairstyles, as well as Tik Tok videos of persons of color explaining why it’s cultural appropriation or not.

At the end of the meeting, which her mother also attended, Amy decided to make a statement which in part said, “I understand that I had my hair done and it offended some of my peers of color. I love the Black culture and I wanted to respect it. I didn’t know I would be offending the Black culture, and I thought I would be called out in a positive way and not a negative way.”

Ms. Gonzales said she received a lot of backlash from co-workers outside of her team who told her that having such conversations is wrong. Ms. Gonzales defends her actions, saying she sees it as important to provide a space where all students can voice their feelings and learn about issues such as cultural appropriation.

As these three accounts indicate, teachers in their first year of teaching must navigate various concerns – and sometimes concerns that conflict – among parents, students and administrators. Knowing this in advance can help teachers better prepare for the various cultural dilemmas they are likely to face in today’s classroom and beyond.The Conversation

You might be interested: Schools reopen this fall: Is it safe? 


Written by Teresa Sosa, Associate Professor of Education, IUPUI

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.