Importance of Multilingual Libraries
The importance of diverse literature has long been a hot-topic of discussion both on the community level in schools and the political level in governments (I mean, just look at the recent slew of government-backed book bannings). However, much of this conversation is about identity-focused diversity, such as providing representation for people of different races and sexualities. The importance of multilingual libraries through both linguistic diversity and diversity of ability has rarely been discussed on a broad level. This means that when it comes to providing diverse literature in schools, students who speak languages besides English are very rarely considered thus, these books are not included in so-called diverse libraries.
The importance of linguistic diversity in school libraries is incredibly important when discussing the Henderson Inclusion School. A large portion of the students enrolled at the Henderson school require books that are not in English: 28.5% of student’s first language was not English and 14.9% of students are English language learners. The Henderson School, as an inclusion school, also has a much higher disabled population than the national average, with 36.3% of their student population having disabilities. This means that there must also be accessible books, such as speaking books or books in Braille, in the Henderson school library. Only providing standard English language books denies disabled students and students who may not be completely familiar with the English language access to an essential part of the school experience, which goes against everything Henderson stands for as an inclusion school. It is important to include access to books for people who speak a variety of languages, whether they be translated books or books written in accessible formats.
Including multilingual books in school libraries is a form of community building. Learning is not solely limited to the classroom; kids take their work, and their books, home with them. It is a very common experience for parents to look over their child’s homework. When it comes to literature-based homework, only having and assigning standard English language books limits how parents and family members with different language abilities can engage in their child’s education. By providing multilingual libraries, schools foster a sense of community both within families themselves and between families and the broader school community.
Written By: Ocean Muir