The Value of High-Quality Books

Books, media, and materials in a classroom have an immediate and lasting impact on children.

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"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free..."

– Frederick Douglass

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Books, media, and materials in a classroom have an immediate and lasting impact on children. The moment a child walks into their classroom they receive messages from their educational landscape about their visibility, their worth, and their acceptance into and ownership of the space they are to occupy for the next one hundred and eighty days.
The books that we choose to use and make available in our classrooms shape the ways in which children make sense of their own and other’s racial, cultural, and linguistic identities; communicate messages around representation; and impact how children develop the ability to think critically and deeply about what and how they learn.

Our commitment at CLI is to provide Black and Latinx children with access to high quality, anti-bias, identity-affirming books
in a range of topics and genres and across multiple languages. Our books say:

  • You matter.
  • You have a voice.
  • You are important.
  • You belong here.
  • You have something to contribute.
  • You can bring about change.
  • Your opinion matters.
  • We need your knowledge, strengths, and skills to make this the best community it can be.
  • You can experience joy here.
  • You bring joy to this space.
Empower children with a gift today! >>
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Finding high-quality books means actively seeking out authentic accounts, that will engage the interest and experiences of the communities within which these books will be read

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What does high quality mean to CLI and how can you identify a high-quality book?

For us, identifying high-quality books means choosing anti-racist and anti-bias books that break down stereotypes, correct misconceptions, break silences, fill gaps, and present counternarratives. Finding high-quality books means actively seeking out authentic accounts, that will engage the interest and experiences of the communities within which these books will be read.
We look for books that build and sustain the language practices of children written in their languages. And central to our work of finding high-quality books for Black and Latinx kids is discovering stories, narratives, and troves of information that children will want to read again and again. When seeking these high-quality books, we ask ourselves:
  • Does the book affirm the identities and experiences of my children?
  • Is the book worth discussing?
  • Is the book engaging to children visually, structurally, stylistically, and in content?
  • Does this book offer numerous entry points for instruction in the classroom and beyond?
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Windows offer children a glimpse into the lives
and experiences of people different from themselves. Mirrors reflect children’s own lived experiences.

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High-quality books are important because they offer children windows and mirrors. Windows offer children a glimpse into the lives and experiences of people different from themselves. Mirrors reflect children’s own lived experiences. Both help children make sense of the world around them. Likewise, books that offer windows and mirrors serve as an invitation for families to see themselves as part of literacy journey of their children.

Finally, we seek to center the joy of our children in these books. Books that are accurate, affirming, and inclusive help children feel a sense of belonging, build criticality and intellect, experience joy, increase engagement, and help to build an appreciation for reading. It all circles back to impact. Black and Latinx children matter. 

The messages they see and hear matter. The books matter.

Your philanthropic investment and support helps CLI equip school districts, principals, and teachers with the resources needed to empower and pursue their dreams.

Join us on our audacious path toward racial equity, transforming early education with culturally sustaining teaching that is responsive to Black and Latinx children.

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We’ve changed our mission to better reflect our work and the children we serve. See why, today!

Learn more about our new mission! >>
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Racial inequity deepens when we fail to teach Black and Latinx students to read. Learn how we are transforming instructional practice and empowering children.

Literacy to Liberation >>