Looking for books that celebrate inclusion? WeNeedDiverseBooks.org is a wonderful resource.

Click here to check it out.

And here's another excellent list from Scott Woods: 28 Black Picture Books That Aren’t About Boycotts, Buses or Basketball

In March of 2016 our Western Washington chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators held a panel discussion on diversity in children's literature.

Dana Sullivan Writer/Illustrator 

danajsullivan@comcast.net  206/779-9855

SCBWI Western Washington Co-Regional Advisor


represented by Anna Olswanger


​Here is a list of books and resources that promote diversity, provided by our panel:

Philip Lee's List:
FROM READERS TO EATERS: 

  • Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Eric-Shabazz Larkin (White author writing about an African American) 
  • A Moose Boosh by Eric-Shabazz Larkin (African American writing about non-African American subject—food!) 
  • Our School Garden! by Rick Swann, illustrated by Christy Hale (“Casual diversity.” White author/illustrator on fictional African American child)


FROM LEE & LOW:

  • Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki, illustrated by Dom Lee
  • Crazy Horse's Vision by Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by S.D.Nelson
  • In Daddy’s Arm I Am Tall by Javaka Steptoe
  • Passage to Freedom by Ken Mochizuki, illustrated by Dom Lee
  • The Pot That Juan Built by Nancy Andrews-Goebel, illustrated by David Diaz
  • Yum! ¡Mmmm! ¡Qué Rico! Americas’ Sproutings by Pat Mora, illustrated by Rafael Lopez


OTHER FAVORITES: 

  • Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson (2015) 
  • One Crazy Summer (2011)/ P.S. Be Eleven (2013)/ Gone Crazy in Alabama (2015) by Rita Williams-Garcia
  • Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle and Rafael López (2015) 
  • The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle (2010) 
  • Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park (2008) 


RECOMMENDED AUTHORS:

  • Christopher Paul Curtis
  • Margarita Engle
  • Yuyi Morales
  • Walter Dean Myers
  • Linda Sue Park
  • Gene Luen Yang


Kelly Jones' List:

  • Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer, written by Kelly Jones, illustrated by Katie Kath
  • Nisi Shawl & Cynthia Ward's Writing the Other: A Practical Approach as the best tool in my toolbox. 
  • Pickle: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School by Kim Baker, illustrated by Tim Probert
  • None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio
  • Hoodoo by Ronald Smith
  • Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly
  • The Great Greene Heist & To Catch a Cheat by Varian Johnson
  • The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex
  • Kid vs Squid by Greg van Eekhout
  • One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck, illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail
  • The Five of Us by Quentin Blake
  • 101 Ways to Be a Good Granny by Harriet Ziefert, illustrated by Katie Kath
  • Not Norman: A Goldfish Story by Kelly Bennett, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones
  • A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
  • Penny Dreadful by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Abigail Halpin
  • Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullay Hunt
  • The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore
  • The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
  • Blended Nation: Portraits & Interviews of Mixed-Race America by Mike Tauber & Pamela Singh


Liz Wong's List:

  • My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay by Cari Best and Vanessa Brantley-Newton (picture book - racial diversity with blind main character)
  • Henry Wants MORE! by Linda Ashman and Brooke Boynton Hughes (good example of casual diversity in a picture book)
  • Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee (YA historical fiction with a multi-racial cast)
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (YA fantasy heist with diverse cast)
  • To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han (YA contemporary romance with half-Korean main character)
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (YA, mexican and gay protagonist)
  • El Deafo by Cece Bell
  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
  • Emmanuel's Dream by Laurie Thompson and Sean Qualls


Web resources

  • We Need Diverse Books - http://diversebooks.org/
  • Reading While White - http://readingwhilewhite.blogspot.com/
  • Writing with color - http://writingwithcolor.tumblr.com
  • Disability in Kidlit - http://disabilityinkidlit.com/
  • American Indians in Children’s Literature: http://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/


A great discussion of how to find and work with beta readers that is full of great resources.

https://www.reddit.com/r/YAwriters/comments/4astwd/discussion_working_with_a_sensitivity_reader_with/

Ann Crewdson's List:
Toddler Story Time Books/Avg. Word Count = 100-300.

  • Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales; Photography by Tim O’Meara. 32p. 50 Words.
  • Des Colores Bright With Colors; pictures by David Diaz.  32p. 216 Words.
  • Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee; illustrated by Kadir Nelson.  32p. 246 Words.
  • Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Mershon.  40p. 269 Words.
  • Shhhhh! Everybody’s Sleeping by Julie Markes; illustrated by David Parkins.  32p. 108 Words.
  • Red is a Dragon by Rosanne Thong.  32p. 214 Words.

Preschool Story Time Books/Avg. Word Count = 500-600.

  • Abiyoyo by Pete Seeger. 45p. 533 Words.
  • Polar Bear Son: An Inuit Tale by Lydia Dabcovich.  40p. 546 Words.
  • 10,000 Dresses by Marcus Ewert.  32p. 722 Words.

Books with Multiple Shelving Locations & Dimensions:

  • Barbed Wire Baseball by Marissa Moss   J796.357 MOS  Interfiled with adult NF and not easily accessible to children.
  • Razia’s Ray of Hope by Liz Suneby; illustrated by Suana Verelst    J  SUNEBY  9.4 x 0.4 x 12.2 inches = Too Tall.
  • Night of the Broken Glass by Meg Wiviott and Josee Basaillon   J WIVIOTT  10.2 x 8.7 x 0.1 inches = Too Long.

World Language or Interlingual Books:

  • Salsa: A Cooking Tale by Jorge Argueta
  • Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors by H. Kahn; illusrated by Merdohkt Amini

80% of 2014’s Most Reported Banned Books Were Diverse (ALA’s OIF) :

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  • And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  • It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • Drama by Raina Telgemeier

My Favorite Diverse Books:

  • Making Face, Making Soul by Haciendo Caras
  • Essays and poems written by women of color for radical change and affirmation.  Especially poignant are the poems, “Suicide Note” by Janice Mirikitani and “Legal Alien” by Pat Mora.
  • Mulberry & Peach: Two Women of China by Hualing Nieh   The only book I know where there is a Taiwanese American character suffering from mental illness (schizophrenia).  The text was so controversial, it was banned upon its first publication in 1976. I prefer the illustrated cover over the cover with the photograph.

KCLS Trends: The circ. rate of African American children’s books has increased by 23% fr.2013-2015. African Folk & Fairy Tale books were up by 15% as well.  There are more Animal books in our story time collection (6%) than diverse books (approx.1.7%). The average copyright of our story time collection is 1998 which makes it around 18 y.o.  Our library system is not alone.

Definition: Cultural authenticity is not just accuracy or the avoidance of stereotypes, but involves cultural values, facts, and attitudes that members of the culture as a whole consider worthy of acceptance and belief (Mo, W. & Shen, W, 1997)

Please consult cultural “insiders” to validate and fact check your draft.  An excellent paper that studied stereotypes is cited below.  (Note the absence of LGBTQ and disability groups in this study).

Yoo-Lee, E., Fowler, L., Adkins, D., Kim, K.-S., & Davis, H. (2014). Evaluating cultural authenticity in multicultural picture books: A collaborative analysis for diversity education. Library Quarterly, 84 (3), 1-23.


 

 

We need diverse books!

Philip Lee  is the co-founder and publisher of READERS to EATERS, which launched its publishing program in 2012 with a mission to promote food literacy. He also co-founded and was the publisher of Lee & Low Books in New York, with a focus on publishing multicultural literature. 


Kelly Jones  is a writer and former bookseller and children’s librarian. Her debut novel Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer, about twelve-year-old Sophie and her magical chickens, was illustrated by Katie Kath and published by Knopf Books For Young Readers. It was named an ALSC Children’s Notable Book for 2016, a 2016 Mathical Honor Book, a 2016-2017 Texas Blueboliznnet Master List nominee, and a 2016-2017 Georgia Children’s Book Award Finalist.


Liz Wong was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she spent her early childhood painting and clambering about in mango trees. Liz holds a BFA in Art and a BA in Anthropology from the University of Washington. She is the writer and illustrator of Quackers, a picture book about a cat who thinks he's a duck, which published in March, 2016, by Knopf Books for Young Readers. 


Ann Crewdson is a children's librarian at the Issaquah and Sammamish Libraries at the King County Library System, Washington, and the former chair of Washington Library Association's intellectual freedom interest group.  Ann has over 20 years of experience working in public libraries.