01 Jun Books that Inspire Equity: Anti-Bias Education in Action during PRIDE Month
By Rachel Franz, Director of Education, LGBTQ+ Community Member
Rainbows are a big hit with preschoolers. On a daily basis, children at Tiny Trees Preschool will find some way to incorporate rainbows into their day- through conversation, drawing, clothing, or, given our region’s magic, witnessing one in person.
And for many, rainbows also hold another significance – they are an important symbol of the LGBTQ+ community. Tiny Trees Preschool is founded not only on giving children a muddy, nature-rich childhood, but also on preparing children to be citizens of the world and to engage in social and environmental justice. On a daily basis, teachers are intentional about cultivating experiences that evoke children to become critical thinkers about what is happening in the world. While discussions of gender and equality pop up all on a regular basis for us a Tiny Trees, we placed a special emphasis on this LGBTQIA+ rights this month.
One of the tools that we love to use in our anti-bias efforts are children’s books. Here is an example of what this looks like in our classroom:
Linsey, one of our teachers, holds up This Day in June in the Reading Area, which she has invited children to read with her during Work Time (a period of intentional play at Tiny Trees). ”Would anyone like to read this book with me,” she asks.
This Day in June is one of many books recommended to teachers to read with their students in celebration of Pride Month. Children gather around her curiously, excitedly.
She flips open to the first page- a beautifully decorated Drag Queen in peacock colors graces the first page. “Wow! This person is all dressed up,” she carefully adds, not adding gender pronouns and automatically inviting inclusion. The pages take the children through the historically significant aspects of the Pride parade with beautiful illustrations and simple rhyming words.
Linsey invites her audience to participate in the book with her.
Linsey: Look at these signs they are holding. This one says “I love my two moms.” This one says, “Justice for All.” I wonder what you know about Justice.
Child #1: Yeah! Like superheroes want justice.
Linsey: You know that some superhero characters use the word justice!
Child #2: What does that sign say?
Linsey: Oh! Yes, this sign says “Equality for All.” What do you know about equality?
Child #3: I don’t know!
Linsey: Hmm.. (waits a few seconds) I know that equality is when everybody can feel safe, healthy and loved; when all people can live a good life.
Child #2: Yeah… my cat died when it was 2 so it didn’t have equality and a good life.
Linsey: Yeah. You feel like your cat didn’t have a good life because it died when it was young.
Child #2: Yeah… she was really young.
The discussion transforms organically. Linsey leaves space for children to connect their personal lives to the book while also intentionally pointing out parts of the book that might be new to the children, leaving room for open-ended thought and discussion.
Later, the book is available for independent exploration. Children make comments as they flip through and teachers nearby might join them. “What! This boy has a dress on,” comments one preschooler. The teacher might respond, “Yeah! What do you think about that?” and then, “How wonderful that all these people get to express themselves.”
Other teachers across Tiny Trees have offered opportunities to explore with books like This Day in June. These opportunities invite children to become critical thinkers and to ask questions about the way the world works. And, of course, it helps children to become excited about reading and writing… and saving the world.
Inspired by our partner Hilltop Children’s Center’s Anti-Bias Library, Tiny Trees is working on building our own Anti-Bias library to continue to support these amazing opportunities for our young children. Check out Hilltop’s Blog Series on books for Anti-Bias education.
Here are some places to add to your own library in honor of Pride Month. Our favorite book lists are below:
To learn more about children’s gender identity development and how to create gender inclusive schools, check out these resources also from Hilltop Children’s Center: https://hilltopcc.com/institute-blog/genderinclusive/