You may have read our post about why Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola’s ‘Clean up!’ was our favourite children’s book of 2020. Following our discovery of that treasure, and the launch of the Oxford Poetry Library and Children’s Allotment Many Voices Collection, LCWO is donating 23 children’s books, which carry an environmental/nature theme or message and where the lead characters are black, indigenous, people of colour.
Why we are contributing to the Many Voices Collection
As outlined here by those behind the collection,
‘White is frequently the norm in children’s literature, and books often reinforce stereotypes or completely omit the stories of those marginalised in our society. There are still too few books where children of colour can see characters who look like them. The Many Voices Collection seeks to address this gap in representation and build a diverse, colourful, and engaging collection of books for any family to borrow for free.’
At LCWO, we are aware of a particular lack of diversity in books about the outdoors and the environment. If kids’ books on the environment don’t feature black characters, the environmental movement will continue to struggle with diversity. We saw a contribution to the Many Voices Collection as a great opportunity to promote the great books that do exist, and enable access to these books for all.
What’s in the library?
How do I borrow books from the Many Voices Collection?
Oxford Poetry Library is currently doing pop ups at a number of venues, including South Oxford Community Farmer’s Market and Flo’s Place in the Park in East Oxford. Check dates and order books on the OPL website.
Coming soon to a venue near you (we hope)
OPL has just put in a funding application, with support from LCWO, to run a series of pop ups in West Oxford and Rose Hill, as well as installing drop-off boxes in both areas and purchasing a shiny new electric bike to make transporting the library that much easier.
Next pop-up: 1000 -1200, Saturday 8 May at Flo’s Place in the Park. Details here.
A bit about the books we’ve chosen
We’ve had a great time searching for books and found some really special ones. You can see the full categorised list, with synopsis for each here.
Lots for little ones
Most are for a younger audience, but a couple – a STEM biography pamphlet of Wangari Maathi, and William Kamkwamba’s ‘The boy who harnessed the wind’ (a true story about a Malawi teen who starts a wind farm) – are suitable for teens.
- Small children experiencing the beauty and excitement of the natural, often for the first time, as in Carmen Bogan’s beautifully illustrated ‘Where’s Rodney?’
- Kids taking action / how kids can take action, like our favourite kids’ book character of 2020, Rocket in ‘Clean up!’
- Inspiring people, including Wangari Maathai, biologist Ernest Everett Just and members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in Carole Lindstrom’s ‘We are water protectors’
- Animal encounters, as in ‘Baby Bear’s Adoption’, in which a brother and sister join their dad in an important mission to tag a mother bear, or Cheryl Minnema’s ‘Johnny’s Pheasant’, illustrated by first nation artist Julie Flett
- Special times with family, as in ‘Hiking Day’ by Anne Rockwell
See, for example, the illustrations by Michaela Goade in ‘We are water protectors’; or the recognisable styles of Julie Flett in ‘Johnny’s Pheasant’ and ‘Birdsong’, and Floyd Cooper in ‘A Beach Tail’ and ‘Where’s Rodney?’
First nation voices:
Three of the books are from First Nation authors and illustrators: ‘We are water protectors’, ‘Birdsong’ and ‘Johnny’s Pheasant’.
Lots of facts, but with a good dose of stories
‘Ruby’s Sleepover’, by Kathryn White and Mirriam Latimer, is a lovely, straight-forward tale of two friends using their imaginations during a garden sleepover. Some cloth facts in lyrical prose, as in Kate Messner’s ‘Over and Under the Pond’. Others are more didactic in tone, like ‘Old Enough to Save the Planet’.
We have some clear favourites, and will be writing more posts about those soon, so watch this space!