School libraries are interesting places. The vast majority of the books in them are donations from pupils’ attics. You’ll find all sorts of gems from all encyclopaedias which still recognise Yugoslavia as a country and the odd unacceptable Enid Blyton illustration. However, you’ll rarely find books that speak to anyone outside of the white, middle-class, heterosexual, Christian population.
That’s not to say there aren’t books in libraries that do this but how many books are there in your library that talk to children from different ethnic groups? I don’t mean Handa’s Surprise, particularly. I’m thinking of books that are about children from minority backgrounds written by people from minority backgrounds. I’m thinking of books that deal directly with very real issues such as mental health, death, depression, bullying, transgender issues, and so on. I’m thinking of books that discuss different types of families, not just the normative nuclear family – families with same-sex relationships, families where there is only one parent, families where the child is living with another family member or a family that isn’t their own.
Anyway, you get the picture. For this to happen, schools need money specifically to buy these books, or the government need to send loads of books to schools for their libraries. I would suggest they are not put on a separate shelf to show how inclusive a school is. Rather they should be mixed in with all the other books. These books shouldn’t be treated as the “freaks” on another shelf. As in real life, they should be part of the regular shelves mixing with all the other books.