Diversity in children’s literature is an important topic within the library field. With the desire to make all children feel represented in the books they read and expose youth to new cultures, many are searching for books that celebrate diverse themes and characters. While the Butler Center and your local library are great places to start, there are many other incredible resources available online to help in the search for diverse books. Today, we are excited to share with you a few sources, from booklists to blogs, that discuss the importance of multicultural children books.
Lee & Low Books is the largest multicultural children’s book publisher in the country and one of the few publishing companies that is minority-owned in the United States. Lee & Low is dedicated to working with unpublished authors and illustrators of color and publishing stories from voices we do not hear from enough in children’s literature. Lee & Low works to create books that better reflect what the world we live in looks like.
Lee & Low also partners closely with educators and librarians to help build libraries and classrooms with books that are reflective of their students. Their website provides in-depth teaching guides for more than 500 of the books published by Lee & Low in the past 25 years. On their site, you can find booklists built around themes and cultures for young readers ranging from Pre-k to 12th grade. Be sure to check out their lists and their blog, where they explore current topics within diverse books.
We Need Diverse Books is a grassroots organization that is advocating for changes in the publishing industry. They are working to increase the number of diverse children’s books and books created by diverse authors and illustrators that are making it onto shelves. They are doing this by offering grants for minority writers and illustrators, publishing anthologies that showcase short stories written by diverse authors, and by offering mentorship programs that connect up-and-coming writers with experienced authors and illustrators.
We Need Diverse Books also provides numerous resources on their website for those interested in learning more about diversity in the world of literature. They moderate panels across the country discussing the importance of diverse children’s books and share videos of their panels online. They also curate a list of sites that provide diverse booklists, and, for those passionate about the lack of diverse books in children’s literature, they created a “Booktalking Kit” to help teachers and librarians talk up lesser-known books featuring diverse characters and topics to their students and patrons. Explore their site to learn more about their mission and how you can get involved in the pursuit of more diverse books.
When bloggers, advocates, and children’s book enthusiasts Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen recognized a lack of diversity in children’s books, they created National Multicultural Children’s Book Day to raise awareness. The event, which first occurred on January 27th of 2014, works to celebrate great examples of diverse literature in the hopes of increasing the number of diverse books in libraries and schools around the country by raising money to donate books to classrooms in need.
While National Multicultural Children’s Book Day only happens once a year, their site provides resources to teach about multiculturalism 365 days a year. They provide booklists for young readers and kits for teachers that outline lessons teaching kids about showing empathy and kindness to one another. They also provide free books to educators and book reviewers to spread the word about literature featuring diverse themes and characters.
The blog Reading While White was founded by a group of white librarians who organized to help confront racism in the field of children’s literature. The contributors to the blog hope to use their privilege to give a platform to minority authors, illustrators, librarians, and readers as well as educate themselves and others on the issues a mainly white world in children’s literature can create.
Through this blog, they have created a list of sources and videos discussing diversity in literature alongside their op-ed style blog posts discussing what they have witnessed within the library field. The blog also invites people of color who are authors or work in the library field to share their insight and educate the public on the problems people of color face today within children’s literature.
Today’s guest poster is Abby Sauer, a senior in studying Corporate Communications at Dominican University. Abby utilized the BCLC collections and resources for her Capstone project on diversity in picture books. Today’s post is the third and final in her series of Butler’s Pantry posts on the topic. Thanks, Abby!