If you’re a parent of little ones, or even little ones big enough to resent the term “little ones,” you may have noticed a problem with the books available for children. Or maybe you haven’t. It took me awhile to catch on because the books available largely reflect my own experience. The problem is this: most available children’s books represent the majority view; that is, children who are Caucasian, able-bodied, heterosexual, average weight, of a two-parent family, and with no discernable religion or with a Christian perspective.
The hashtag above sparked an enthusiastic grassroots campaign earlier this year that is working to correct the dearth of diversity in children’s and middle grade publishing. If you’re reading this, I’ll assume that you are a supporter of libraries and a believer in the impact of literacy. Take that one step further to the importance of seeing people like you reflected in the books you read. This is a validation that you are an equal member of the world you inhabit, and not a secondary citizen. These books also teach majority children to respect and value people of all cultures and abilities.
A lot has been written about this topic. I highly recommend checking out the We Need Diverse Books website as a place to get your feet wet. But what I wanted to write about today is a specific type of diverse book, because not only is it difficult to find books featuring a minority viewpoint, it’s even harder to find books where that difference isn’t the main topic. That is, books about kids doing kid things. There’s definitely a place for celebrations of differences, like Nappy Hair or Best Friend on Wheels, but there’s an equally important place for not making it a thing. For people just being people, and kids just being kids, no matter what their differences are.
Today I’d like to share with you a list of books I’ve found where diversity is featured but not the main point. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but just titles I’ve come across in my own search for diversity in my son’s reading life. All the titles are available from your library, just click on the link below to reserve your copy! If you have any suggestions of books to add to this list please comment below!
- Abuela by Arthur Dorros
- All the Pretty Little Horses: a traditional lullaby by Linda Saport
- Ben’s Trumpet by Rachel Isadora
- Big Snow by Jonathan Bean
- Chalk by Bill Thomson
- Dreams by Ezra Jack Keats
- The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster
- Hello Night/Hola noche by Amy Costales
- How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? By Jane Yolen
- How to by Julia Morstad
- Last Night by Hyewon Yum
- Lookin’ for Bird in the Big City by Robert Burleigh
- Mitchell’s License by Hallie Durand
- More More More Said the Baby: 3 love stories by Vera B. Williams
- My Visit to the Aquarium by Aliki
- Mystery Vine: a pumpkin surprise by Cathryn Falwell
- New Red Bike! by James E. Ransome
- Peace, Baby! by Linda Ashman
- Rain by Linda Ashman
- Rap a Tap Tap by Leo and Diane Dillon
- Ten Tiny Toes by Todd Tarpley
- You Were the First by Patricia MacLachlan