Conscious Child Family Book Discussion Kits on Racial Equity, Identity, and Justice

Caitlin Campbell, Children's Librarian, The Lane Libraries (OH) /
Conscious Child kits logo
Logo for the Conscious Child Family Book Discussion Kits
courtesy The Lane Libraries

We learned about these fantastic book discussion kits in recent Ohio Library Council News and reached out to Caitlin Campbell, Children's Librarian, at the Oxford Lane Library in Ohio, to learn more about the project and the resources included in each of the kits. The library has generously shared their great work, including each of the discussion guides, for other libraries to use and adapt locally.

We’re very proud of the kits, and believe their creation is a good example of how we as librarians can and should listen and respond to our community. The story of our Conscious Child Family Book Discussion Kits began when a patron (also a founding member of a local Facebook group, Oxford Multicultural Family Alliance) called me in September wanting to ask about the possibility of starting a kids' book club here to address the protests over the summer. I loved this idea but in-person programming was out due to COVID. I have done kids' book clubs before and they can be very difficult and time consuming to nurture and there are limits to the number of people who can be involved. I also feel passionately that conversations about race should begin at home and that so many parents really struggle to know where to start. After some brainstorming with our Youth Services Coordinator and my Branch Manager, along with our Collection Development Manager and Children's Collection Development Librarian, these kits came into being. I feel very lucky that this project was so enthusiastically supported throughout the whole process—including financially! 

discussion kit contents
The discussion guides are laminated and each set is held
together with a binder ring. Photo courtesy The Lane Libraries

The aims of the Conscious Child: Family Book Discussion Kits are: 1) To celebrate diverse voices; and 2) to help facilitate family discussions about racial equity, identity, and justice. Included in the kits are discussion questions for each book, and a list of further recommended reading.

The discussion questions included in each kit were created from sources (see: Discussion Question Sources) that our Youth Services Coordinator, Celeste Swanson, and I found online, along with some questions I wrote myself. The discussion guides are formatted to be printed double-sided and cut in half. We laminated each of the cards and used a binder ring to hold the set together, and the books and sets of cards are circulated in the containers, as you can see in the additional photo.

kits are circulated in boxes
The kits circulate in these containers. Photo
courtesy The Lane Libraries

I believe the project could be easily adapted by other libraries and even implemented on a much smaller scale. We have 3 kits of each theme but a library with a tighter budget could do just one or two kits with each of the themes. Or they could even create a more informal "book bundle" version using copies already in their collection. But the cost for our project was around $1,000 for the books and an additional $300 for the containers. We were fortunate to have funds available through The Friends of the Oxford Lane Library, and I’d encourage libraries to consider engaging with their own Friends group for support, or reach out to other local organizations to seek funding. I believe there are numerous of grant opportunities for projects promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion.

This project has been very well received so far. We have 24 kits total and currently 16 of them are checked out! I am hoping to expand the project by adding more kits in the future.

Our library is pleased to provide these resources for libraries to use or adapt. We ask that you include attribution to the library, and a Creative Commons license. For example, in your adapted resources, please credit with, “This work was created by The Lane Libraries, and is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 4.0.”

Resources

Discussion Guides

Note: The discussion guides are formatted to be printed double-sided and cut in half.

Ages 4-7

Ages 8-11