My name is Mrs. D. and I am an author of children's books. Currently, I’m juggling many projects including several new books. I love to write. I love this beautiful language. I write because I have something to share. I write because maybe someday, someone in this world may need my experience. I write for one simple reason. I love how it makes me feel: free.
As the aggression between races continues to heighten, there's an extensive amount of history that needs to be explained to children who are not of color to be able to understand why those of color are in the middle of an uphill battle that expands back further than we can really trace. Regardless of what some think, racism is something that is taught to our children, not something that they are born with. Teaching them what it means to be racist, the hurt that it has caused people of color in the past and currently, and the effects that it leaves on both parties is something that holds a great importance.
Whether you're looking for a way to start the discussion on racism or deliver more history on the fight people of color have endured throughout time, these 10 books will help accomplish what you need.
1. 'Pink and Say' by Patricia Polacco
Patricia Polacco's Pink and Say is an exceptional story based around the Civil War that details a story of a black family who put their life in danger to care for a young white boy who was wounded. Great for taking a small look into racism, Polacco's book will help your children see just how dangerous it was to be caring as a person of color.
2. 'Sister Anne's Hands' by Marybeth Lorbiecki
Based in the early 1960s, Sister Anne's Handsreveals the fight that people of color endured, even when they were only trying to help children learn.
3. 'This Is Our House' by Michael Rosen
Subtle yet meaningful, Michael Rosen's This Is Our House shows children what being excluded based on certain things feels like.
4. 'The Jacket' by Andrew Clements
The Jacket by Andrew Clements tells a story that many children of color have experienced with being accused of something negative based off of their skin color. Delivering a walk into a well-needed learning opportunity, The Jacket is a great book for showing children the ugly truth about prejudice encounters.
5. 'Under The Same Sky' by Cynthia DeFelice
Under the Same Skytells a perfect story of white privilege and entitlement when 14-year-old Joe Pedersen is forced to work on his father's farm with the hired Mexican laborers. An important story on racism and truth, Cynthia DeFelice's look into how those that are different than us is well needed within today's youth.
6. 'The Other Side' by Jacqueline Woodson
Jacqueline Woodson's The Other Side is a story of a friendship not held by the restraints of color and displays a very realistic lesson on how racism is taught to the youth.
7. 'The Story Of Ruby Bridges' by Robert Coles
The Story of Ruby Bridgesis a book that tells the true story of six-year-old Ruby Bridges, who became the only black child in an all white New Orleans school. Facing mobs of parents who refuse to let their children learn alongside of them, Ruby's courage, fight, and strength is a great realization that the mistreatment of people of color has no age limit.
8. 'Let Them Play' by Margot Theis Raven
Another true story surrounded around segregation, Margot Theis Raven's civil rights story Let Them Play teaches children about equality and displays how ignorance and bigotry can cost you what you desire most.
9. 'The Watsons Go To Birmingham - 1963' by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Watson's Go to Birmingham - 1963 gives a look into the horrific and historical burning of the Sixteenth Avenue Baptist Church with four little girls inside through the eyes of a young boy.
10. 'Ruth and The Green Book' by Calvin Alexander Ramsey
Calvin Alexander Ramsey's book Ruth and the Green Book unveils the unfortunate treatment of blacks through the eyes of young Ruth who travels with her family from Chicago to Alabama using the help of The Green Book.
Take a look in the mirror at your friends at your neighbors at your community members. Now take a look at the bookshelves in your home. Do the characters and stories in your children’s books represent the amazingly, beautiful diversity in your world?
RAISING GLOBAL CHILDREN:
If you are a follower of The Educators’ Spin On It, then you know one of my parenting goals is to raise globally aware children. Affiliate links to books included in this article.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WANTING AND HAVING A DIVERSE BOOK SHELF
I really struggle with finding high-quality, high-interest diverse books within our families budget. After thinking about this challenge of mine, I realized that I can not be the only one looking for diverse books. I can not be the only one wanting to raise globally aware children accepting of other cultures. I can not be the only one who WANTS my children to read diverse books. So I have decided to make a difference in MY bookshelf and hopefully yours too! After reaching out to LEE & LOW BOOKS, I am going to show you how to build a LOVE diverse BOOKS package for your family every month this school year. Our theme for September will be FAMILY! They will be sending their 3 books picks to me and I’ll be showing you how I make a #LOVEdiverseBOOKS package for 3 different ages. Stay tuned for more information! With a special thanks to Keilin Huang for sharing more about LEE & LOW with us and tips for assessing your own book collection!
LEE & LOW BOOKS
By Keilin Huang LEE & LOW BOOKS has been publishing diverse children’s books for the past 21 years and we’re proud to say that we’ve seen some progress when it comes to diversity in children’s books. From articles in the New York Times to the #weneeddiversebooks campaign that went viral, diversity has become a huge topic of discussion. Attached is a list of 50+ children’s books, all featuring a variety of characters and cultures. While it’s important for kids to learn about important historical events that have impacted today’s societies (the Civil Rights Movement, Japanese internment camps), LEE & LOW strives to publish books that also depict children of all backgrounds doing things any child would do: gardening with their grandparents, hula-hooping in their neighborhood. These “mirror” and “window” books allow children to relate to characters that are similar to themselves, but it also introduces them to new cultures and people that they may not have learned about before. Included in this list are several books from our other imprints, which has expanded our range of diverse books that we are able to provide. TU BOOKS is our young adult imprint that focuses on the science fiction, fantasy, and mystery genres. The imprint addresses the gap in these genres, which oftentimes feature white characters. CHILDREN’S BOOK PRESS, which LEE & LOW acquired in 2012, and SHEN’S BOOKS, acquired last year, has allowed us to expand even further in publishing multicultural books. As one of the first multicultural children’s book publishers, acquiring CHILDREN’S BOOK PRESS has allowed us to increase our number of bilingual books, while SHEN’S BOOKS focuses on introducing readers to the different cultures of Asia. With the population of the United States changing rapidly, it’s all the more important to provide books that children will be able to relate to. The list below provides books with historical significance, as well as stories that children of all ages and backgrounds can relate to.
EIGHT TIPS THAT ARE HELPFUL IN CHOOSING BOOKS TO DIVERSIFY YOUR LIBRARY:
1.Does your book list or collection include books with characters of color? LGBTQ? Differently-abled? 2.Does it include books with a main character of color? LGBTQ? Differently-abled? 3.Does it include books written or illustrated by a person of color? Of different nationalities, religions or sexual preference? 4. Are there any books with a person of color on the cover? Do the characters on the book covers accurately reflect the characters in the book? 5. Think about your student population. Does your list provide a mix of “mirror” books and “window” books for your students—books in which they can see themselves reflected and books in which they can learn about others? 6. Think about the subject matter of your diverse books. Do all your books featuring black characters focus on slavery? Do all your books about Latino characters focus on immigration? Are all your LGBTQ books coming out stories? 7.Do you have any books featuring diverse characters that are not primarily about race or prejudice? Consider your classic books, both fiction and nonfiction. Do any contain hurtful racial or ethnic stereotypes , or images (e.g. Little House on the Prairie or The Indian in the Cupboard)? If so, how will you address those stereotypes with students? Have you included another book that provides a more accurate depiction of the same culture? You can read the full blog post here
For more tips on building a diverse bookshelf click here. Looking for a reading records, game boards, and motivational activities for your home or classroom? I highly recommend this Reading Kit. There is even a section for your kids to read around the world.
Follow along #weneedmorediversebooks and their own hashtag #LOVEdiverseBOOKS