We Need Diverse Books

24 Sep

weneeddiversebooks-logoI was talking with a patron who was telling me a story of their 4-year old daughter.  The little girls is Black, Hispanic and White, but sadly doesn’t see many others in her small community that look like her.  She has begun asking her mom questions about the way she looks after starting preschool.  To me this is heartbreaking, a young child that doesn’t see themselves in the world around them.  So I began searching for books to help mom and dad show this little (impressionable) girl that she’s not so alone.

And you know what?  It’s not easy.  Sure you can find a few picture books about biracial children – often Black/White, but there are many families that are not only interracial, but also cross-cultural as well.  And it’s not easy to find characters in books to reflect these different types of families.  So I made a plug to the ever helpful ALSC listserv.  Let me tell you, as a children’s librarian, this is an amazing resource.  Librarians in general want to help people, especially other librarians and it was evident in the responses I received.  In less than 24

hours, I received 12 responses with thoughtful suggestions that I’m going to pass along to our friends.  And maybe somewhere, this little girl will find a character that she can relate to.

Diversity is not a “new” concept and children’s literature needs to reflect the children in the world.  And of course we might not be able to illustrate absolutely every family out there, but  there’s a lot to be said for characters that children can relate to on some level.  The connection children find in literature can be strong and powerful and that’s what we aim for as children’s librarians – finding those connections for all kids.

Oh and the suggestions, here’s a few…

  • Oscar’s Half Birthday by Bob Graham
  • Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown
  • Yoko by Rosemary Wells
  • I’m Your Peanut Butter Big Brother by Selina Alko
  • Black is Brown is Tan by Arnold Adoff

If you have any other suggestions, please let me know by leaving a comment. Thanks!

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