Everyone should be able to see themselves represented in media: books, television, movies, and advertisements. As a librarian, I feel strongly that children need to be exposed to literature that reflects their own lives. They need to see people who look like they do and know that they are valued. There hasn’t always been a diverse representation of people, gender, abilities, and culture in books for children and teens but publishers are starting to change that. In the last few years book review journals, blogs, and websites have promoted diverse books and put out the call for more, which publishers are starting to answer.
As a librarian, it is becoming easier to find quality titles that represent a wider proportion of our student body and community. Now we just need to promote them and get them into the hands of our students.
A few useful resources:
WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS offers a wealth of information, and resources, and has been one of my go to sites for finding new titles.
Read Diverse Books is a blog by Nazahet Hernandez that is full of quality book reviews and book lists. Hernandez shares a powerful message that I love – “I want us all to read books written by authors whose roots collectively span the world. Let us not limit our reading experiences to that which is familiar and comfortable. Let us experience the world through the eyes of a young, middle-class Nigerian woman moving to America. Or a woman born during the 18th century on a Jamaican sugar plantation. Or a Mexican-American teenager who befriends a boy who will help him discover the secrets of the universe. Let us read these stories and allow our lives to become richer and our perspective more nuanced because of them.”
Call Number is a library-inspired book subscription that celebrates contemporary black literature and authors. Although this site may be geared to build one’s personal library, we are using this subscription service to add diverse titles to our school library collection. Each package also comes with promotional materials which we use in displays and as give aways (think book club swag, contests, etc.)
Rainbow Book List promotes GLBTQ books for children and teens. The recommended lists include picture books, middle-grade fiction, young adult fiction, non-fiction and graphic novels. Appropriate grade levels are noted, and the committee is sponsored by the American Library Association.
VOYA magazine always has great book lists. The June 2017 issue included a book list – Exceptionalities Part 3: Uncommon Illnesses and Conditions, which had dozens of diverse titles.