A fantastic campaign started one year ago in April of 2014 to address the lack of children’s literature with diverse voices. It is called We Need Diverse Books. Ellen Oh, the President of the organization, said “Armed with statistics, we knew that the lack of diverse narratives had a direct correlation to our country’s literacy problem”. Within the year that the campaign started they’ve seen an overwhelming response from kids, teachers, librarians, administrators, parents, and other organizations.
Books teach us about the world around us and the people that populate it, so when we lack representation in novels, picture books, and nonfiction we are doing our children a disservice. Books help us empathize with the main characters and the best way to teach a child about themselves or another is to let them live through a character in a story.
I will now step off my soap box and highlight some books that feature diversity. Also check out the #We Need Diverse Books list in OverDrive Marketplace for other great additions to your collection.
The main character, Gabi, chronicles her last year of high school in this book. The book is highly regarded and about a young woman dealing with her identity, school, the future, and her family/friend relationships. The reason it made this list is because Gabi is Latina and her story is a modern coming of age story worth reading.
This new comic for middle grades and above is the perfect girl power text! Set in a summer camp the Lumberjanes are a girl-scout-esque group, seeking badges and “Friendship to the Max!”. Then strange things start happening and it’s up to this group of gifted gals to figure it out. Two of the girls have strong feelings for one another and this is one of the best female led texts I’ve read in a while. The perfect empowerment for any girl.
“A funny, honest novel about being out, being proud . . . and being ready for something else.” Rafe is open about his sexuality, but he’s tired of being the gay guy. He just wants to be normal, so when he moves to an all-boys boarding school, he decides to keep his sexuality to himself.
Abe Sora is dealing with a disease that will kill him young, ALS. After he loses the use of his legs, he turns to samurai poetry and seeks friendships via the internet. He is tired of people’s pity and ultimately wants to end life on his terms. A beautiful and thought provoking read set in Japan.
This is an adorable picture book about a soon to be big sister who is tired of hearing how excited everyone is over the new baby because she’s not sure where that will leave her? This is the perfect book for any sibling and features an African American family.
Kristin Milks is a Collection Development Analyst with OverDrive