Parents, It’s Time to Get Woke!

We typically have fond memories of school libraries. I mean, seriously, what’s not to love? Hundreds of books lined upon shelves, of all sizes… and all of them dripping with knowledge! Some with pictures. Some without. Folktales, mythology, biographies, and more, the school’s library is the place that ties all learning together. It’s an academic beacon and so much more: a haven to the friendless, a comfort to the hopeless. It’s the answer to those who are curious, and a spectacle for the nosey! Yep, we’ve got it all in the library, and that’s what makes it a special place for kids! 

And because the library has it all, it can contain some of the most controversial content around! 

Typically you’ll find that elementary and middle school librarians have a special knack for working with children and find genuine enjoyment in helping students cultivate a love of reading, teaching critical thinking skills, and performing read alouds so silly they brighten up the school day. Of course, the librarian’s purpose is an amazing thing, and they should be encouraged to continue capturing the hearts of young growing minds. But let’s face it, when it comes to multiculturalism, family values are not all the same. And when it comes to some books in the library, parents and caregivers with more conservative views may find it empowering to know which kinds of books they may want to read with their child.

Here’s the reality of the landscape of the library. Unlike movies, books do not display a rating system. Also, whether it’s deliberate or unintentional, not all of the ideologies presented by authors are captured on book cover previews. Furthermore, unless parents are trained in reading the verso or finding quality book reviews, they might not get a clear enough picture of the content within. This is a problem because a school librarian is not going to inform kids about underlying themes and ideologies found within a work beyond its summary. The reason for this can be that the librarian has not read the book in question, or, more importantly because librarians are trained to encourage the ability of their young patrons to choose titles based on whichever system that individual has adopted for themselves when selecting books. And unfortunately for them, many elementary age kids do judge a book by its cover… and the publishers know this. Strategically crafted book covers can keep publishers in business for generations! Therefore, when it comes to subject matter parents of a more careful nature may deem questionable for their family, many factors can be hugely missed.

Ever heard of the Banned Books list? Well, I think we have plenty out there that have made the cut! With banned books, the goal is to bring awareness to topics and subject matter that has been labeled by others as inappropriate. I’m sure the sentiment is greatly appreciated, but the connotation is extremely negative. 

With so many variants between families and book content, more conservative audiences should be given an awareness of questionable subject matter so that they can better determine the level of appropriateness for their children. 

Parents need to get woke about books! 

And that’s the goal of my Woke Reads list! It’s not an upgraded version of the Banned Books list, no. I don’t think any book should be banned. To me, that defeats the purpose of free speech in the first place. I do however believe in being “woke” to books, and for the more conventional parents out there who desire to be an active participant in their child’s learning, you have a right to have this information disclosed to you in a clear, succinct way. 

My Woke Reads book list contains books that may be in your child’s elementary school library that specifically contain subject matter dealing with either sexual orientation, social justice/political issues or a combination of both. Parents and caregivers may prefer reading these books with their children instead of their children reading these books on their own. 

Are you ready to get woke?! Here’s My top 10 for 2020

In addition to my list, here are some super helpful additional resources when it comes to previewing book content:

National Book Ratings for Parents?

5 Helpful Websites for Parents Who Want to Know More

Common Sense Media

Time to Get Woke: Children’s Books in the Library