What DO We Do?
We manage the Margo Trombetta Children’s Peace and Anti-Bias Library for children from birth to age eight which is housed in the Early Childhood Education Department at Cabrillo Community College.
We search for, review and select children’s picture books that are beautifully written and illustrated, are age appropriate, that support young children to love books and become joyful readers and that explore themes of Peace and Anti-Bias education. We support families in finding wonderful books that reflect who they are and illuminate the world their children live in
We use Peace and Anti-Bias Education as a foundation to build and share curriculum for ECE teachers, Family Childcare Home providers, and College faculty to incorporate children’s books and literacy curriculum built on peace and anti-bias thinking into their work for and about young children.
We reach out to our communities with public readings of select children’s books, and by presenting peace and justice books at conferences, parent meetings, and teacher training workshops. We maintain this website and “Find Books” Database for use across the country and internationally.
How Did the Peace Education Project Begin?
Our project grew from a small collective of Early Childhood Education professionals who were brought together by Cabrillo College ECE teacher Rosemarie Greiner to brainstorm about teaching peace. These teachings manifested as a physical library that began as a gift from educator Margo Trombetta. In the 1990s, with the assistance of Dr. Habib Kritt, we were able to take the library online, as a searchable database of books.
Click the links below to learn more.
Cabrillo College Early Childhood Education teacher Rosmarie Greiner was a multi-lingual life-long environmentalist and peace activist. Fueled by her love of children and her deep understanding of the interdependence of all creatures on our planet, she put together a small collective of ECE professionals to discuss what peace education could look like for very young children and to write a classroom guide for other teachers.
The working group researched and discussed how to best help young children grow into the kind of adults who become peacemakers. What are appropriate teaching approaches for different age groups when thinking about peace education? What is and isn’t developmentally appropriate? Foundational to our understanding that there can be no peace without justice, the group wondered about how do very young children learn about fairness and unfairness, and what skills do they need to be able to stand up for themselves and for others. We experimented, tried variations, observed children, and continually consulted with families and teachers.
Out of this work, Rosmarie created the six Peace Education Strands. Each of these inter-related strands provided a place to develop curriculum, and together they provide an integrated approach to peace education. The current, always-in-process, model of Peace Education still utilizes this work as it constantly evolves.
The physical library began as a gift from another Early Childhood Education classroom teacher and college instructor, Margo Trombetta, who was teaching at Napa Community College. Margo was an essential thinker in Rosmarie’s original manuscript group. Like Rosmarie, she brought an international perspective to her thinking and a certainty about the intelligence and creativity inherent in young children. It was at her suggestion that the newly created publication include a short list of children’s picture books to support each of the six strands of Peace Education.
Committed to the work being made available to a larger community of teachers and parents, Margo donated funds to begin buying the children’s books to create an actual library. Her family has continued that commitment and has been a major support as the library has evolved into its current collection of almost 1500 of the highest quality children’s picture books, each supporting one or more strands of Peace Education.
In the 1990’s, Dr. Habib Kritt, a computer language specialist, an immigrant from Tunisia and a new father, took a few ECE courses at Cabrillo. He became deeply interested in the Library and its goals and offered to develop an interactive database to enable people all over the world to find books that celebrated each child and every family, that supported children’s literacy development while exposing them to the skills and understandings needed to flourish and grow as peace and justice activists.
Along with Julie Olsen Edwards, co-author of Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves, and one of the original creators of the Peace Education project, Dr. Kritt created the database which made it possible for anyone, anywhere, to find out about high quality, age appropriate, Peace and Anti-Bias education picture books. The innovative search engine allows books to found by book type, social identities, languages, age appropriateness, and multiple special topics, all tied to the Peace Education strands and the Anti-Bias goals. The database search engine is continually being updated and has been extensively used across the United States and Internationally.
One of Julie’s favorite stories is about traveling in Egypt where she visited the then new, Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, built to be one of the world’s largest libraries and major collections of books. She went to the second floor children’s section and using their computer asked for “recommended children’s picture books in English”. The first item to come up was the Children’s Peace Library data base. She sat down on the floor and cried that their work had been honored in this way.
Who We Are Today & How We Operate
The Peace and Anti-Bias Education project is always a work in progress. Funded by donations, staffed by volunteers, existing during a world shifting time – all of us who work on the project feel a deep sense of responsibility to help build a safe, just, and joy filled world for every child. We strive for collaborative, inclusive, decision making – even when we don’t always achieve it. Our intent is that our decisions and operations are based upon and reflect the interactions between the Anti-Bias goals, Peace Education strands, the foundational theories of child development and literacy development, a recognition that children are always, first and foremost, part of their particular families and cultures, and a full hearted belief in children’s remarkable capacities and intelligence.
Click the links below to learn more.
As we have worked with the library we also became deeply convinced that books must bring visibility to all the children of our community. We have seen the destructive impact of children being unable to find their own families, their own life experiences reflected in books. Anti-Bias goals 1 & 2 (strong sense of self and joy in diversity) were already embedded in that understanding. Additionally we knew that Peace making requires a world of justice. The ABE goals 3 & 4, recognizing unfairness and standing up for oneself and for others, are essential aspects of Peace building.
We built a new book collection called the Anti-Bias library, but soon realized that the two collections overlapped and that in fact, understanding our highly diverse and still unjust world was a critical aspect of peace making. The two collections have now been combined, and the new name of the library reflects that melding.
The physical library is located in room 1508 at Cabrillo Community College in Santa Cruz County, California. The Library has been funded entirely by donations and managed by volunteers and ECE students under the supervision of Cabrillo Early Childhood Education faculty. It is an integral part of ECE Department curriculum and the books are used by teachers, caregivers and families throughout the County. The College Main Library provides support through appointment of a consulting Librarian who brings professional understanding of Library procedures and is an additional voice in book selection.
Cabrillo students receive Special Studies units for learning about and working in the Library. Faculty who oversee the Library receive small stipends to supervise the students. The heart of the operation continues to be a small collective of local ECE people who set the standards for book selection, and who continue revising and updating the peace education strands as we deepen our understanding of children’s literacy development, children’s lives, and the impact of social stratification and injustice upon children, families and teachers. The Library is always a work in progress.
The quality of the book is always the first consideration for inclusion. In order for books to be selected they must be age appropriate, contain rich, enticing language, beautiful artwork, and contain information, stories, or poems, that delight and engage. Additionally, the book cannot perpetuate stereotypes about any group of people or carry hurtful messages that misinform children about their world. The books must also support child development in one or more of the peace education strands and/or the anti-bias education goals.
We find books in bookstores, at book fairs, and on-line. Families and students bring us books to consider. We check in with advocacy groups. You can check our “Resource” page for ideas on how to create a budget to keep up with new books.
We have high standards – but sometimes the book we are looking for doesn’t exist or doesn’t quite meet our quality expectations. For example, for many years it was hard to find books that included children with disabilities that weren’t focused only on explaining the disability and not on the child as a complex, fully developed person. But we needed books that included these children. Or, most of the books we found with Native American children only showed them in historic clothing, living in “tipis”. But we wanted books with indigenous children and families. Where that has happened, sometimes we list the book, and we write a short note on the inside cover suggesting ways adults can “tell the story” rather than just read it, or suggesting questions adults can ask to help the child think about the messages. Sometimes we have had to create our own books or encourage our colleagues and students to create them. And as new and better books have been published, the “almost OK” books go away. After ages of hoping, well written age-appropriate books on consent have recently become available and have been added to the library.
Our community keeps changing.. Now we are looking for good, age appropriate, books about refugee families. We still haven’t found the books we need with Cambodian families. Maybe you will write them?
We are deeply committed to sharing what we have learned about children’s picture books and the importance of reading to and with young ones. We have seen the destructive impact of children being unable to find their own families, their own life experiences reflected in books and the equally destructive lessons children receive when their family structure, racialized identities, genders, religions are the only lives reflected in books. Our experience is that teachers and families are hungry for books that excite their children and present the great diversity of our world. They are delighted by books that teach empathy and compassion and present characters who figure out how to bring fairness and kindness to the world.
As staffing permits, students and faculty provide book readings, workshops and presentations at parent or staff meetings, and at Statewide and National conferences. We almost always include student teachers in our presentations, helping them to see themselves as professionals and enriching our presentations by sharing their own experiences.
Sometimes our presentation is around a theme (e.g. Books that contradict stereotypes about Native Americans, or about gender or about people with disabilities, etc. ). Sometimes the workshops are tied to an age group (e.g. Infant/Toddler books, getting ready for kindergarten, etc.). Sometimes we bring books and talk about supporting our children in the light of the crisis in our community (e.g. shootings, fires, earthquakes, etc.) We have offered workshops on racism, family structures, and on books illuminating diversity around holidays. And sometimes we have provided reading booths at community festivals and have had “story hours” on the College campus.
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Rosmarie Greiner Peace Activism Prize
Through the Cabrillo College Foundation, awards are given each year to students who demonstrate activism in one or more of the Peace Education strands. Students are nominated by faculty, receive a certificate of honor with a letter from the faculty listing their specific contributions and a small cash honorarium. Each certificate ends with the phrase “Your efforts for others affect not only the lives you directly touch but nourishes us all and gives us a vision of social change in the making. By honoring your efforts, we hope to encourage your ongoing leadership to create a world of justice and peace.”
In past years students have been honored for organizing and delivering winter survival packages for unhoused people; working with the art department and the college library on a photo and essay exhibit “Speaking Out About Sexual Abuse”; organizing students to go to the State Capital to advocate for stronger services for disabled college students; creating a video “Climate Change Hits Home: Santa Cruz”; offering “story hour” sessions in the shelters for families driven out of their homes in the terrible fires that we experienced.