by Marsha Rakestraw
According to the latest figures from the National Center for Education Statistics, “black, Latino, Asian, and Native American students will together make up a narrow majority of the nation’s public school students,” yet the number of children’s books that feature characters of color are shamefully sparse.
Studies show that having multicultural literature in the classroom (and at home) benefits all children, and can cause harm when it is absent.
Here are nine resources to help you find multicultural books for children and young adults.
1. We Need Diverse Books
#WeNeedDiverseBooks is an official campaign on Tumblr that is working to counteract the lack of diversity in youth literature. The site includes book recommendations and posts about what people from all over are doing to diversify “kidlit.”
2. Multicultural Books for Children: 40+ Book Lists
Blogger Pragmatic Mom has compiled a list of lists that have recommendations for multicultural literature for children.
3. Notable Books for a Global Society
The Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group of the International Reading Association each year highlights children’s and young adult books that enhance “student understanding of people and cultures throughout the world.”
4. The American Library Association
The ALA has several awards for children’s and young adult literature which focuses on a multicultural theme. Look for awards such as the Pura Belpré Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, and the American Indian Youth Literature Award.
5. Lee & Low Books
This independent children’s book publisher focuses on titles with diversity and has several imprints.
6. Social Justice Books
Teaching for Change has created this project to highlight “the best selection of multicultural and social justice books for children, YA, and educators.”
7. American Indians in Children’s Literature
Founded by Debbie Reese, a professor and Nambe Pueblo Indian, this blog offers a critical analysis of indigenous peoples in children’s literature and elsewhere, as well as suggested titles that accurately reflect Native culture and experiences.
8. Rich in Color
This blog features reviews and discussions of young adult literature featuring and/or written by people of color.
9. Diversity in YA
This blog features young adult books dealing with “all kinds of diversity, from race to sexual orientation to gender identity and disability.”
It’s important to note that just because a book features one or more characters of color doesn’t mean the book isn’t full of stereotypes and culturally inauthentic or misleading elements. Here is a checklist for creating a diverse book collection.
What other sources do you know of for quality multicultural literature for kids? Let us know in the comments.
Image via Global Partnership for Education/Flickr.