This one is for all my fellow parents.
If you’re a teacher, don’t read this one cause you might ruin your holiday gift.
It’s back to school season and if you’re like me, you’ve been thinking about the school supplies, teacher placement, and the laundry list of things to do before that first day.
At the top of my list, is how I want to form a relationship with our new teachers from day one.
I’m probably just as nervous as my kids are for“Meet the Teacher”, because to me it feels like a blind date in which you trust your most precious gift, your child, into the hands of a teacher you don’t know. (Sure, Montessori friends, I know all about how your kids stay with the same teacher for several years…I miss those days.)
Forming a positive connection with our teachers is so important to me. I want them to know that we’re the kind of parents that are invested in our kid’s education, that will support them, and who are only a call or text away for whatever they need..
We parents play an important role in supporting teachers as they work to create inclusive classrooms that celebrate diversity and the truthful history of all people through diverse books. We can engage with teachers and advocate for diverse literature in a way that will do more than impact our one student, but shift the culture of a school and its students.
Here’s how we can do it:
Tell them we value diverse books
Make it plain and simple. Tell your teachers right out of the gate that you and your family value diverse books and express your excitement to see diverse books in their classroom. This is often one of the first things I will look to observe and share during “Meet the Teacher” and it sets the tone that our family both values the joy of reading, but also values diverse books. As we’re getting acquainted with the space, I’ll scan their shelves, make a connection with our child and book that they may recognize or be interested in and then I’ll compliment their collection (even just one book)!
Steal this idea: For years, our family has been giving the “Diverse Readers Tote” because it’s an easy conversation starter! I often will write a note that says “Happy First Day of School! Our family loves reading diverse books and we’re happy to be guest readers.” We both communicate what we value and open up to supporting the teacher and that’s a win win. Midyear to early spring, we gift a diverse book that is either a favorite that my children have picked out prone to, which I’ve been geeking out about! If you’ve followed us online, then you probably know that my kids are infamous for raiding our bookshelf for lightly used books to share with their teachers.
Share your kid’s recommendations!
Our youngest child would give a book to their teacher for each unit if we let them! They were constantly making connections to the books on our shelves to the unit themes they were learning in school. Rather than shrug this off, we’d allow them to bring the book to school to share with their teacher or gift it if we were able. Allowing our kids to make their own suggestions to their teachers for books we see at the library or while racing around Target is one way we both empower our kids. We just snap a quick picture and message them with a note from our child, – it’s another connection driver.
Steal this idea: And if you have a kid that’s too cool for all this, then you share your recommendations of something that might be related to their unit of study or speciality, but you can also recommend your favorite titles that are unrelated. One year, we gave gift cards to our favorite local bookstore to our teachers and snapped pictures, with permission, of a few titles that I had recently read or I thought they would enjoy based on their interest and hobbies. I used my phone’s collage feature and used the image as the card! Easy peasy. Steal the idea. Please!
Don’t wait for them to ask, offer your time
Our schedules are busy, I get it, but rather than waiting for a teacher to reach out for guest readers we can proactively reach out to them. Maybe you’re swamped during tax season with client preparations, offer to come in to read the last day before winter break, after a week of standardized testing or whatever your child’s teacher might need. When our youngest was a baby, I was unable to be a guest mystery reader because getting a sitter for me to read for 15 minutes felt silly, so I reached out offering to coordinate sign ups for mystery readers and sent in video recordings of me reading from our living room. Not every teacher will be ready to take you up on your offer, but putting it out there lets them know you want to be involved and supportive.
BONUS: Joining the Parent-Teacher Association, volunteer, and advocate for diverse books
The parent-teacher association or similar groups may not have a diversity and inequality committee like our former Montessori school did, but that doesn’t mean you can’t join to get involved! Be supportive of the work that the group has outlined and as appropriate or when given the opportunity to voice needs speak to support diverse books in all classrooms and libraries and for all topics.
Lastly, we can’t be proponents of diverse books if our children don’t know how important this is to you. Put diverse books on hold at the library, add them to their birthday lists and add titles to their collection as part of holidays. In our family, we give a diverse book during Black History Month and other holidays. Let them see and hear you reading diverse authors because they won’t believe you unless they see you adopt this in your own life. Most importantly, let them hear you talking about a diverse book with their teacher as this will open up a connection point for them!
Check this back to school list item off your list. Order your Diverse Readers Make Inclusive Leaders tote today.
Whether you’re a parent, educator, or advocate, our product is designed to support and empower you on your journey.
Click here to order your tote and help create a more diverse and inclusive world. Together, we’ll make a positive impact!