#WeNeedDiverseBooks

While walking down the street the other day, I passed a little girl walking with her dad. The dad was belting out “Let it Go” (from Frozen, of course…and let me interject that it is completely adorable what little ones can get their dads to do). But the thing that struck me was that this little girl and her father were black… and I realized that there is not one black character in that movie.  And there is absolutely no reason for that fictional town to not be filled with diverse characters.  This little girl, like my little girl, and so many other little girls and boys, obviously loves that movie. Why should she not see herself represented in movies she loves?

Now, this isn’t a new concept.  This is something that anyone who falls out of the realm of whatever ‘privilege’ we want to choose deals with daily. Fortunately, there is a grassroots movement happening in the writing, publishing and library world right now.  And it affects all of us because, unlike the characters in Frozen, we do live in a world that is filled with diverse characters.

I bring you, #WeNeedDiverseBooks

The We Need Diverse Books tumblr was “created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature. We Need Diverse Books is committed to the ideal that embracing diversity will lead to acceptance, empathy, and ultimately equality.

We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities. Our mission is to promote or amplify diversification efforts and increase visibility for diverse books and authors, with a goal of empowering a wide range of readers in the process.

In order to accomplish our mission, we reach out to individuals and groups involved in many levels of children’s publishing—including (but not limited to) publishers, authors, distributors, booksellers, librarians, educators, parents, and students.” (http://weneeddiversebooks.tumblr.com/tagged/Mission)

#WeNeedDiverseBooks

Now in my research for diverse books, I found an interesting debate over an idea that has been coined “casual diversity.”  Basically, it boils down to whether we should be focusing on creating books that present diverse characters naturally and, as the term implies, treat diversity in a casual manner; or if we need to explicitly address racism and differences in children’s book.   (If you are interested, I have included some links below to articles addressing the discussion).++

For me, I believe we need both kinds of books.  And more of them!!  (Check out this discussion on the Lee and Low blog entitled, “Why Hasn’t the Number of Mulitcultural Books Increased in Eighteen Years“).  That being said, I wanted to create a booklist that DID focus on characters of differing backgrounds presented naturally, because I feel those books are a little harder to find for the parent who just wants a simple bedtime story, or the preschool teacher who wants relatable books that represent the children sitting around their storytime circle.

Below I have created just that: a list of books featuring characters of color, characters who fall into the LGBTQIA category, or people with a characteristic that otherwise places them in the ‘minority.’  This is just a start, though.  Check out the additional booklists and websites with tons of resources on incorporating more diverse literature into your library (also listed below).  Also, keep in mind that many of the authors listed below have many multicultural books beyond what I have listed.

Books Featuring Diverse Characters:

For the young ones:991852

Bigmama’s and Shortcut by Donald Crews

Feast For 10We Have a Baby and Rainbow Stew by Cathryn Falwell

I Am So Brave and I Know a Lot by Stephen Krensky, illustrated by Sara Gillingham

Have You Seen My Cat and Today is Monday by Eric Carle

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats18850832

Chugga Chugga Choo Choo by Kevin Lewis

Whose Knees Are These and Whose Toes Are Those by Jabari Asim

Buzz by Janet S. Wong, illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine  (For more picturebooks featuring Asian-American characters, check out this Amazon list)

Best Behavior book series

Preschool to School-Aged:

Pr6222894incess Grace by Mary Hoffman

The Dunderheads by Paul Fleishman

Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka

Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson

I Love My Hair by Natasha Anastasia

Babies Can’t Eat Kimchee by Nancy Payz, and Susan L. Roth

Peeny Butter Fudge by Toni Morrison

Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto

_206890SchEsperanza_0.tif

Middle/High School:

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Anything by Walter Dean Myers

Mexican WhiteBoy by Matt de la Pena

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

6596547Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green

Wonder by RJ Palacio

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Mockingbird by Katherine Erskine

Other People’s Booklists (because I have only just scratched the surface…):

Seven Diverse Board Books for Babies and Toddlers (from the Ink and Pen blog)

Top Board Books For Youngest Readers (from the American Indians in Children’s Literature website)

Books for Babies about Adoption, Race and Family

Goodreads’ Best Multicultural Books for Children 

Goodreads’ Best Children’s Books with Disability /Accessibility Themes 

10 Great Multicultural Books from Flavorwire

50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) – this list is by age, so very helpful!!

Goodreads’ Diversity in Young Adult and Middle Grade 

Awesome Online Booklists, Websites and Resources:

Go forth now and fill your child’s library with diverse books!! Enjoy!

____________________

Other Interesting Articles on Children, Diversity and Racism:

“Language May Be Dominant Marker for Young Children” by William Harms from UChicago News

“Children are Not Colorblind: How Young Children Learn Race” by Erin N. Winkler, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

++”Casual Diversity” debate:

http://blogs.slj.com/afuse8production/2014/02/04/casual-diversity-and-the-childrens-book/#_

http://criticalchildrenslit.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-danger-of-casual-diversity.html

http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/shelftalker/?p=12551


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