Digital Storytelling with the TaleBlazers’ Library Workshop: Engaging, Including, and Empowering Youth to Diversify Children’s Literature

Session Description
In the field of library and information science, it has been found that exposing young readers to diverse books is important for fostering literacy, educational engagement, and understanding of social identity. Unfortunately, there frequently exists a lack of diversity among book characters, their authors, and their publishers—especially pertaining to literature for children and young adults. Additionally, those books featuring historically marginalized social identities are often met with demands of censorship or removal from schools and libraries (American Library Association 2015). Initiatives like “We Need Diverse Books” focus on encouraging authors, publishers, and educators to produce and disseminate literature that encompasses more comprehensive representations of social identities. Such initiatives are invaluable and necessary for the diversification of identity in stories, but children and youth have largely been left out of the picture. One solution for directly engage youth in literacy despite a lack of diverse books is to offer creative writing opportunities; this can offer children an outlet to explore and reflect upon their identities, create the types of stories themselves that match up with their self-perceptions and their cultures, and experience stories created by their classmates, thereby expand understanding of their complex communities while promoting compassion for diverse viewpoints. The purpose of this action research project is to develop instruction via an online digital storytelling (DS) repository and to evaluate the effects of its use in digital storytelling workshops on the educational engagement, student feelings of empowerment and inclusion, and diversification of children’s literature among 4th-6th grade youth at a public library. Lessons learned were numerous, including that students’ engagement with different social identities varied across the age group studied.
  • Desiree Dannenbring, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Novice, Intermediate

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