Blogs About Reading

Aiming for Access

June Behrmann

June Behrmann is a longtime special education teacher (pre-K to grade 6) who retired for about two seconds, and is now prospecting for accessible instructional resources. Follow June on Twitter @aimnoncat. Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with us.

Diverse Books Blossom, Including Disability! Download a Free Booktalking Kit from WNDB™

June 22, 2015

We Need Diverse Books™ (WNDB) just launched a Booktalking Kit that is now available to download at no cost. The kit is comprised of 30 titles and helps to increase the comfort level involved in identifying, reading, and discussing books that feature diverse characters, including those with disabilities. The kit also considers diversity among authors. Choices came after extensive research to identify titles and writers that may have "flown under the radar."

Tools for Talking

The kit is a joint project of WNDB™ and School Library Journal  (SLJ) for teachers, librarians, and booksellers. A copy can now be downloaded now at at

The Booktalking Kit includes:

  • Three lists of ten books each for young adults, middle grades, and picture books. Also find a rationale for their use and suggestions for comparative titles, and other recommendations.
  • Shelftalkers (3x5 cards used by bookstores to call out recommendations for each WNDB™ pick)
  • Shelftalkers for comparative titles to direct readers to the WNDB™ pick
  • A WNDB™ sign for display by teachers, librarians, and booksellers

Diversity: A Hard Sell

"Contrary to popular belief, diversity does sell," says Sarah Hannah Gómez, a WNDB™ librarian. "That's why it was so difficult to put together this list and whittle it down to only 30 titles. In the end, I think our first toolkit shines light on some amazing books and hits all sorts of identities to create a collection that is truly representative of our world."

"The WNDB™ Booktalking Kit represents a significant next step toward expanding awareness of diverse books," says SLJ Executive Editor Kathy Ishizuka. "From middle grade and high school titles to picture books, WNDB™ has provided a rich range of selections that we hope will be shared widely, not just within the library and book community, but to schools and families as well. The shelftalkers and cards for finding comparative diverse titles are creative tools that, as the kit says, represent a 'point of discovery' for diverse books, and School Library Journal is proud to support this project."

We Need Diverse Books™ is a grassroots organization of children's book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.


Students who struggle to read print are eligible for free resources to access their curriculum as part of a federally funded program. The accessible educational materials (AEM) program supports learning nationwide by providing alternative formats to print for struggling students. The formats include audiobooks, braille, and other digital resources that offer learning supports. Students who use these materials are more likely to stay on grade, meet their individual and school district goals, and master their state standards of learning. Find eligibiiity information for students in Virginia on the AIM-VA homepage. In other states ask a special education teacher or school administrator about accessible educational materials (AEM) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and an exception to copyright law.  

Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with our Reading Rockets audience.

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