2 PROMOTING AFRICAN AMERICAN WRITERS promotion of African American writers. Evidence shows that providing African American youth with access to African American writers and litera- ture increases their desire to read. An assistant professor in the School of Teaching and Learning at Illinois State University speaks on the importance of young students’ eagerness to read and their engagement in reading when they see characters that look like themselves in books that are representative of their cultures, which improves their literacy skill. The students are more highly engaged. . . . Any child when they feel some con- nection to a book is going to be more into it, have more conversations around it—and then that leads to what we all want, which is greater gains when it comes to reading and critical thinking skills. (Collier, 2016, 14) Two school librarians writing to make the case for inclusive multicultural collections in school libraries had this to say on the subject: We need books that illustrate the universality of life and the lives of people from different cultures. Books that show the sameness of various peoples show the richness of our differences. Books that reflect our own culture allow us to identify with those of other times or places, who have had experiences similar to ours. Books that reflect other cultures allow us to experience the lives of oth- ers with like problems. Each culture has a rich heritage, which may be seen through good literature, photographs, and illustrations. Through reading about other cultures, students will develop an appreciation for cultures and ethnicities other than their own. (Arsenault and Brown, 2007, 20) It is important that librarians and others, through programming, work together to promote African American writers, which in turn will increase diversity education, motivate literacy, and encourage reading at all levels. I will generally use the definition of a “program” that the National Impact of Library Public Programs Assessment (NILPPA) study uses. The latter study, conducted for the American Library Association (ALA) in 2017– 2019, states that “a ‘program’ is an intentional service or event in a group setting developed proactively to meet the needs or interests of an anticipated target audience” (Barchas-Lichtenstein et al., 2019, 2). Therefore, I define “audience” as any library user(s) or potential library user(s). Exceptionally, however, I embrace library instruction as a possible form of library pro- grams, while the NILPPA research study does not because all library instruc- tion is not open to everyone in the general population. The NILPPA found that public libraries are the leader in sponsorship of library programs, fol- lowed by academic libraries, which sponsor a significant number of pro- grams (ibid., 27). Youth is an important population group that libraries want to attract, and more importantly must attract, as an audience for their organizations’ pro- grams as libraries build toward the future. According to a 2017 U.S. Census
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