Two D87 teachers giving minority students representation in new book

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Two teachers in Bloomington’s District 87 say they’re teaming up to address the lack of diversity in children’s books.

The idea started early spring semester when an Irving Elementary School Music Teacher says, everyday after class she would read a book for about 2-3 minutes to her students to calm them down. That is until she says one day she was looking through the shelves and something seemed off.

Music Teacher Karen Odman O’shea says, she came to the realization that her students couldn’t relate to the books she was reading in class.

“I was realizing, I don’t have enough books that feature my African American students, and my Hispanic students,” she said.

So she began searching for other books, and after reaching a dead end quickly, she had another idea.

“I said well I’ve always wanted to write a children’s book, so ill write my own then,” she said.

And she did, it’s called DeShawn’s Song depicting a young African American kid that through music finds happiness and friendship.

“60% of our students are brown and black,” said Irving Elementary School Principal, Messina Lambert. “Just having their teachers write something for them, with them in mind, is going to be so amazing to understand that we care about them, we are working hard for them and we value them.”

Illustrator of the book Nicole Bussan says, overall this book will help show black and brown students they too can belong in, and relate to fun stories, as every single character in the book is a minority.

“I think they are really going to be excited to see the characters in the story,” said Bussan. “That they really look a lot like the students that I’ve had in the classroom.”

If your child goes to Irving elementary they will be able to pick up the book in the school’s library when school resumes. For others, Karen is hopeful it will be available at Bloomington Public Library soon.

For those looking to get it now, visit Amazon.

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