Diversified your bookshelf

May 22, 2024
In this blog post I’m going to chat about diversifying your bookshelf at home, school or libraries.
As a kid I didn’t really see myself in the books in my classroom. They were European fairytales or the golden books or mainstream books from the 80s.
And I wasn’t the only one, then or now.
While there is increasing representation of First Nations peoples, people living with disability or additional needs, those from LGBTQI+ backgrounds, those of migrant backgrounds, and other minority groups- this isn’t always shown in bookstores, libraries, classrooms or other places where young people access and choose books.
If your local bookstore mainly stocks ‘bestsellers’ or things that appeal to the broader mainstream market, or if your library only does displays or faces out the ‘most borrowed’ or ‘trending’ books, or if your class teacher just chooses the ‘classics’ or books they loved reading or studying as a kid- then young people aren’t being exposed to or learning about the variety of books that exist. And children that only read the mono-culture, mainstream representations and narratives and strengths and challenges- risk never learning from, having empathy for, or developing an understanding of the experiences of minority groups or different perspectives.
That’s one of the reasons I wrote my books (Black Cockatoo, Dirrarn, My Deadly Boots, Backyard Footy, Tracks of the Missing) and my future books (Backyard Tennis, and Kimberley Kickers)- so First Nations outback kids could see their experiences validated and mirrored, so they could see pathways for themselves… but so that kids from other places and cultures and lived experiences could learn about outback life too.
So how do you diversify your personal bookshelf, classroom library, school library or local bookstore? That’s the topic we recently covered at Riley Callie Resources Yarn Session with other deadly bookworms: illustrator Jade Goodwin, librarian Elise Ellerman.
This year I also have two books coming out that might be the perfect first steps into broadening the types of books on your bookshelf:
🎾Backyard Tennis (Lothian)
Tennis looks a little different for kids in the outback: the red dirt, the animals in the bushes and trees, the courts and net and grandstand. As the children hit around the ball, more and more neighbours pop their heads over to see what all the excitement is about, before taking the game to the whole community. This book shows the importance of friendship, community and sports. And serves as a great opportunity for young readers to learn about diversity, difference and First Nations lived experience. Each of the characters is a real life person from the outback- and one of my little relatives. This book can be read as a stand-alone text, or as the sequel to Backyard Footy. It is available for pre-order now for release in July. AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER at your local bookstore (I always advocate to support local or Blak first) or HERE.
🏉Kimberley Kickers: Jy goes for gold (Harper Collins)
This is the first middle reader book in the Kimberley Kickers series with Harper Collins that showcases the real-life outback First Nations AFL and AFLW talent from Kimberley Western Australia. Best bit? This book is perfect for those who love AFL and those who don’t! The books are fun biographies of life growing up in the Kimberley: the bull-rides, camping trips, bush walks, swimming in ancient waterholes, hunting, fishing, rodeos, mustering and more. We get an insight into where these deadly players got their skills and edge. But also the challenges they had to overcome to play AFL and AFLW at an elite level. This book will be perfect for bookshelves in homes with readers aged 7-12, as well as primary libraries and classrooms.  The first book follows Gold Coast Suns star Jy Farrar and is available for pre-order and is released in September. AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER at your local bookstore (always support local first) or HERE.

Add a comment