Professional Learning Network : Children’s Literature

In 2019, Chrissy Howard, manager of Reading Success by 4th Grade and Ellen Sulzycki, Children’s Services Supervisor of Springfield City Library came together to form a vibrant and connected learning group with the mission of continuing the conversation of diversity in children’s literature; learning how to create an effective and welcoming space of dialogue, inclusion, safety, and equity for children and families; and discussing what we can do as librarians and educators to stop the perpetuation of racial inequities. 

The Professional Learning Network on Children’s Literature (PLN:CL) facilitates discussions, idea sharing, and learning opportunities through a hybrid model (online/in-person.) This group offers opportunities for Massachusetts librarians and museum professionals with an interest in social issues in children’s literature to connect through learning/networking events, sharing articles and research, co-writing opportunities, and more. 

A continual focus is diversity in children’s literature and discussion of what informal educators can do to stop the perpetuation of racial inequities. This focus led to the planning of the Multicultural Children’s Literature Summit: an in-person professional development event hosted by PLN held in February of 2020 at the Springfield City Library Central Branch. This half-day event gathered almost 50 informal educators from across the state of Massachusetts. Dr. Maria José  Botelho gave a keynote address of critical multicultural analysis of children’s literature followed by Jensie Katalina from Square One giving a brief training on cultural humility. During a lunch and learn session, participants were encouraged to network and connect followed by a brief presentation from local bookstore owner Zee Johnson. 

This year, PLN:CL has produced a virtual four-part Winter Speaker Series online which featured authors, librarians and museum educators delivering talks focusing on EDI and diversity in Children’s Literature. Speakers included: Sophie Kenny, the assistant manager of children’s services at the Aurora Public Library who recently presented at the ALSC Virtual Summit; David Feinstein, a literacy educator at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art; Gloria Respress-Churchwell, author of Follow Chester! and Jewell Parker Rhodes, award-winning author and Piper Endowed Chair at Arizona State University.

Cross-sector partnerships and networks such as this are imperative to establish a literacy ecosystem that supports children’s language and literacy development. Membership is free and there are no license/membership affiliate requirements. PLN offers a system of support for professional and collaborative learning opportunities on their facebook page: .

This work is hosted by Reading Success by 4th Grade and the Springfield City Library.