If you know me or have read my blog, you know that diversity is one of my passions. I believe that it’s our job as parents to prepare our kids for a diverse world and hopefully be better at living together than we are.
With MLK Day and Black History Month, this is the time of year you might notice more book lists and activities aimed at teaching kids about diversity. There are many beautiful books that talk about love and acceptance. Some that speak about the Civil Rights Movement or the struggles that people who were ‘others’ had to overcome. They are inspiring and important to share with our children.
Here’s the problem. And I don’t think that teaching about diversity is something we should stop doing. Not at all. It’s important to speak directly about differences and fighting racism. It’s great, but it’s not enough.
What we need to do is find diverse books for the everyday. What message are we sending to our children when their bookshelves are lined with white protagonists– except for the ‘diversity bin’? Let’s read a book about–whatever– trains, animals, ice cream– and the characters in it reflect the actual diversity of our world.
There’s this perception that books with black or brown protagonists are for black or brown children. I don’t want my kids to think that for a second. This little book, Let’s Go All Around the Neighborhood, was one of my favorites as a child. My kids read it now. It’s for anyone who’s interested in a book about a girl, her mom and what they do all day. But books like this one are hard to find.
So that’s why I try to be diligent about choosing books that reflect diverse characters. And in all of my book lists I try to select books that bring Protagonists of Color onto the pages. Diversity has to be a part of our everyday life. Because just talking about it in February or September and then abandoning it for the default-white ‘mainstream’ does nothing but build stereotypes and create walls.
So scour the bookshelves of your library, be picky on Amazon. There are lots of ways to find out about diverse and multicultural books for children. Here are a few more ideas:
Here are a few places I look:
There’s an organization called We Need Diverse Books that has some great resources.
New York Public Library released this list of 100 Books for Reading and Sharing 2014. It’s a beautiful site and contains many diverse selections. You can also narrow the list down by age and interest.
I get lots of book recommendations and inspiration from Multicultural Kid Blogs.
Yesterday was actually Multicultural Children’s Book Day!
The Educator’s Spin on It has lots of great ideas. And this post is a good starting place.
And I love Sprout’s Bookshelf for book reviews and more.
Now you share, what are you favorite books with diverse characters?