The world includes Palestine – wouldn’t it be great if kids could read about it?

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At least two thirds of UN member nations gave Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a standing ovation recently in support of recognition of Palestine. But did you know that children in elementary or middle schools watching or listening have no books in their school or public libraries that recognize the contributions, the history, the geography, the government, trade, lifestyle, language, arts, leisure and food of the people of Palestine?  

In today’s 21st century classrooms, all with access to the World Wide Web of information one might think this is not necessary but the Internet’s information is overwhelming, not accessible to all, some of it not sourced, nor is it edited with children in mind. For this we depend on the world of children’s publishing.  And for social studies and country books the international companies Marshall Cavendish and Scholastic are the leviathans.

As a youth services librarian and former elementary school teacher, I acknowledge and applaud the body of award-winning literature that Scholastic and Marshall Cavendish have published.  I also applaud Scholastic’s important Global Literacy Campaign that promotes reading to children and their parents. A remarkable component of this campaign is the Reading Bill of Rights from which I quote,

    WE BELIEVE that literacy – the ability to read, write and understand – is the birthright of every child in the world as well as the pathway to succeed in school and to realize a complete life. Young people need to read nonfiction for information to understand their world and literature for imagination to understand themselves.

I could not agree with this statement more. Children deserve the best resources that will help them realize their potential.  Children deserve the tools that will help them enhance their world and our global community. We, librarians and educators, want to give them those tools.  We strive to inspire and prepare our students by giving them meaningful well-written literature and by sharing with them the most complete and accurate information from age-appropriate nonfiction.

To this end, we depend in part on publishers like Scholastic and Marshall Cavendish to provide these resources that we in turn put in the hands of children every day. Marshall Cavendish eloquently states,  

    Our philosophy of enriching life through knowledge transcends boundaries of geography and culture. In line with this vision…we constantly reexamine our conceptions of knowledge and education in order to fashion innovations, and bring the love, excitement and benefit of lifelong learning to teachers, students, academics, professionals and general readers the world over – our fellow travelers in wonder and discovery.  

For these reasons and more, it is time to reexamine the absence of information for students about Palestine. Our youngest scholars have the right to read about the contributions of Palestinians.  They have the right to learn about the culture, dance, food, geography, government, history, leisure, languages, and trade of the land called Palestine alongside all the other cultures they learn about.  As information providers, we have the responsibility to give them the access.

Aimed at “celebrating diversity, allowing young readers a chance to see and read about peoples who live in faraway lands”, Marshall Cavendish’s Cultures of the World and Scholastic’s Enchantment of the World, found in juvenile collections both in schools and libraries throughout English speaking countries, should include PALESTINE.

That is why I support the Kids Have the Right to Read about Palestine Campaign, calling on Marshall Cavendish and Scholastic to include a Palestine title in their social studies series.

The World includes Palestine.  Let the children read and understand.

Desiree Fairooz is a Youth Services Librarian in Virginia.

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