Diversify Your Bookshelves: 10 Children's Books That Celebrate Diversity

Growing up reading was my escape. Through reading I was able to travel to faraway places, learn about different cultures, and imagine living in different eras. I was allowed to be mischievous and go on adventures that would have been impossible otherwise.

However, I always felt like a guest in the author's adventure, a "fly on the wall" per se. I never felt like I could be a supporting character let alone the protagonist of the story.

I immigrated to this country at the age of eight, in the middle of 3rd grade, and since then I have considered Provo, Utah my home. As American as I felt, I never found a lead character that I could relate to. The only characters that "looked" like me were in "educational" books that were intended to teach kids about "other cultures" which right away made me feel like I didn't belong. As big as my imagination was at that age, I was never able to bypass all of the barriers to make it possible for a reader to inject their own image as the main character. When I became a parent and my kids would bring home the famous "Scholastic Book Flyer", I was disappointed to find that not much had changed.

Books that kids, teachers and parents choose are vital, as those stories can affect how children view themselves and the people around them. Books help you build your identity, therefore books should represent different ethnicities, races, religions, and disabilities.

In 2019, Black, Latino, and Native authors combined wrote only 12% of the new children's books published (Lee & Low Books), even though 39.8% of the U.S. population are people of color. This means that children all across the country rarely see role models in the books that they read. They rarely read about families that resemble their own, or find characters that look like them accomplish big, important things.

A diverse home/school library is a benefit to ALL children regardless of race. "Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection, we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience...[Children from dominant social groups] need the books that will help them understand the multicultural nature of the world they live in, and their place as a member of just one group." - Mirrors, Windows, and Doors by Rudine Sims Bishop. With this in mind, I have compiled a list of my favorite 10 Children's Books that would make a great addition to any home bookshelf or added to the list of books you check out on your next library visit. If you are interested in learning more about ways to get more of these books into classrooms and community libraries you can read more about "Multicultural Children's Book Day" which is celebrated on January, 29th 2021!

10 Children's Books that Celebrate Diversity

1. Sulwe - Lupita Nyong'o (author).

2. Arrorro, Mi Nino: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games - Lulu Delacre (author).

3. I am Enough - Grace Byers (author).

4. All Because You Matter - Tami Charles (Author).

5. Just Like Me - Vanessa Brantley Newton (Author).

6. Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You - Justice Sonia Sotomayor (Author).

7. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History - Vashti Harrison (Author).

8. The Proudest Blue: A Story of HIjab and Family - Ibtihaj Muhammad & S. K. Ali (Authors).

9. Chocolate Milk, Por Favor: Celebrating Diversity and Empathy - Maria Dismondy and Nancy Raines Day (Authors).

10. We are Grateful - Traci Sorell (Author). 

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Tuesday, 26 October 2021

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