by Marsha Rakestraw
When I was a child, I read a lot of books. A lot.
And other than the occasional title, like The Snowy Day, the people in all those books looked like me. White. Able-bodied. Heterosexual.
Despite our growing population of children of color in the US — who now outnumber white students in schools — there’s still a significant gap in the diversity of books for children and young adults.
Here’s an infographic (shared under Creative Commons) that illustrates data from 2015 from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s study:
Studies like the above — and occurrences like an all-white, all-male author panel at a major book publishing convention — have led to a greater focus on diverse books and the establishment of organizations like We Need Diverse Books.
We Need Diverse Books, which promotes positive changes in the publishing industry, defines diversity this way:
“We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, Native, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.”
Use resources like these to help you find diverse books and authors for children and young adults.
- Institute for Humane Education – Of course we have to give a shout out to our own online Solutionary Hub teacher’s resources. Use the search filter and choose whatever subject you’re looking for. You can also add keywords to the “search” field. We have a variety of diverse suggested children’s books.
- American Indians in Children’s Literature – This site provides “critical perspectives and analysis of indigenous peoples in children’s and young adult books” and beyond. It also recommends what books NOT to use.
- The Brown Bookshelf – This blog increases awareness of “the myriad Black voices writing for young readers.” Each February their “28 Days Later” showcases books for young people “written and illustrated by Black creators.”
- DeColores: The Raza Experience in Books for Children – This blog reviews and critiques “children’s and young adult books about Raza peoples throughout the Diaspora.”
- Latinx in Kids Lit – This blog offers reviews of Latinx literature for children, middle grades, and young adults. It also includes author essays and interviews.
- Lee & Low Books – This publisher is the “largest multicultural children’s book publisher” in the U.S. They publish fiction and non-fiction books for grades PreK through high school and topics often focus on diversity issues.
- Rich in Color – This blog reviews and promotes authors and young adult fiction “starring or written by people of color or people from First/Native Nations.”
- Teaching for Change Books – This site offers suggested multicultural and social justice books and booklists for all ages.
- Vamos a Leer – Overseen by the Latin American and Iberian Institute at the University of New Mexico, this website includes recommended books for children and young adults, as well as selected lesson plans, a book group, and recommended authors.
Image via Carol VanHook/Flickr.