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The literature chosen for The Story Project resources is considered very carefully. Luckily, our favourite activity is reading, as we spend a lot of time hunting down and devouring the best available texts related to all aspects of wellbeing. All the books chosen for our curriculum have been through a thorough vetting system, which involves reading a number of books around a subject and then selecting the book based on a variety of criteria. Firstly, the books included need to be diverse and reflect the students in our classrooms. When we choose books to read with children, It is very easy to subconsciously choose books that reflect ourselves and sometimes books with more diverse characters/storylines can be harder to source.

It is crucial that students see themselves, their peers and a wide range of communities in books. Children need books that are ‘mirrors and windows’; mirror books that contain characters similar to themselves and help give an insight into their own lives, but also window books that contain characters from other cultures and communities, so children gain a better understanding of and empathy for people who are different from themselves.

We need to look beyond simply seeing diverse characters in books and to look at the roles of diverse characters in fiction and non-fiction books. For example, all the scientists in a book about dinosaurs may be white males or all the families in a set of fiction books may have mothers and fathers. This is not intentional and often reflects society’s stereotypes, but showing these books in the classroom can perpetuate stereotypes and be damaging for students.

When choosing any book for The Story Project we consider the book from a variety of angles, looking at diversity and relevance. We also prefer books that tackle a subject indirectly rather than directly, for example when teaching children about positive friendships, we don’t include a book entitled ‘How to make friends’, that lists all the qualities of friendship.

Instead we include a book that has a rich storyline including some characters that are struggling with friendships. This means that children are engaged and connected with the characters and care about the choices they are making.

The most important factor for us, is that children engage with the stories we have included, so we enjoy seeing how children react to The Story Project books and essentially children will have the final say in whether a book is included or not!

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