[kids-lib] Diverse Books: The Case of Skippyjon Jones

Katie Anderson katie.anderson at state.or.us
Fri Aug 21 10:30:22 PDT 2015

I admit it, I really liked Skippyjon Jones when the first book came out. I liked it so much I didn't review it through a diversity lens and included it as a giveaway in the first year of Reading for Healthy Families. Sometimes we like what we like even when we know better. That might be okay in our personal lives, but in our work we need to act professional and think of the broader impact on children, families, and our community.

Here are two great articles about the negative stereotype and incorrect use of language  in the Skippyjon Jones books.

*         Skippyjon Jones and the Failed Read-Aloud<http://decoloresreviews.blogspot.com/2013/10/skippyjon-jones-and-failed-read-aloud.html>

*         Skippyjon Jones: Transforming a Racist Stereotype into an Industry<http://decoloresreviews.blogspot.com/2013/04/skippyjon-jones-and-big-bones.html>

Skippyjon Jones is a popular series that most, if not all of you will keep in your collections to meet patron requests. Upholding the principles of intellectual freedom in providing our patrons the materials they want is part of our professional Code of Ethics<http://www.ala.org/advocacy/proethics/codeofethics/codeethics>. However our Code of Ethics also indicates that we have a responsibility to provide services, including storytimes and other programs, that are accurate, unbiased, and courteous.

This is a reminder that not everything on our shelves is appropriate for storytimes and other programs. Therefore we need to review all the books we use in programs, even popular ones with good reviews, before using them in our programs and we need to remember to apply a diversity lens when doing so.

In the past several years I've learned more about how to apply a diversity lens when reviewing books and other media. I've learned more about stereotypes, micro-aggressions, and other topics related to diversity and diverse books. Now I cringe when I read Skippyjon Jones and am embarrassed that I ever liked it.

If you used to like a book you now know presents negative stereotypes or inaccurate representations of diverse people, please share and get it off your chest! You might just help the rest of us who may not have applied the diversity lens to that book yet.

We all make mistakes, but we learn from them and get better at our jobs as a result.


[Slogan Text][Cooper_laughing]
Summer Reading 2015 at Oregon libraries<http://libdir.osl.state.or.us/>!
Find a summer food site<http://www.summerfoodoregon.org/>.

Katie Anderson, Youth Services Consultant
Library Support and Development Services<http://www.oregon.gov/osl/LD/pages/index.aspx>
Oregon State Library, 250 Winter St. NE, Salem, OR 97301
katie.anderson at state.or.us<mailto:katie.anderson at state.or.us>, 503-378-2528

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