Diverse Literature for Children is Crucial

Your library can help you access books that celebrate the beauty of each child's individuality.

We want to celebrate diverse children’s literature and discuss the importance of representation. To celebrate Family Reading Week, here’s how your local library can help you access diverse children’s literature.

The Importance of Multicultural Literature for Children

Diverse literature is essential for everyone, but it’s especially vital during a child’s formative years. Sharing multicultural literature with children promotes empathy and helps them listen to other people’s perspectives. Plus, children from underrepresented communities can see themselves in the stories they read.

Multicultural literature is a way for children to understand and connect with kids from other communities. It can increase interest in books for young readers. Reading reluctance may be a matter of failing to see themselves in children’s literature.

When children see themselves in literature, they feel less alone. Vice versa, when children notice something different about a character’s story from their own, they begin to ask important questions that could be essential to empathizing with others.

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Multicultural Literature by Topic

Racial Diversity

Are you looking for literature that celebrates diversity and children of color? White stories have historically dominated previous children’s literature. Thankfully, there has been an increase in children’s literature featuring people of color, and the current numbers are expected to rise.

Ethnic Diversity

Are you looking for literature that showcases underrepresented communities? These often include specific experiences unique to the child’s ethnicity and cultural background. There has also been a positive increase in ethnically diverse children’s literature since the beginning of the 2020s.

Religious Diversity

Are you looking for literature that celebrates various religious experiences that involve children? These sometimes center around particular religious traditions, holidays, and experiences children may not commonly see in their communities.

Linguistic Diversity

Children’s books, including multiple languages, translations, and dual-language features, are essential resources. For example, the United States’ second most spoken language is Spanish, yet it has historically been misrepresented in United States’ children’s literature publishing companies. Some children’s authors are changing that by writing stories supporting bilingual children and teaching children how to understand new languages.

Ability Diversity

Are you looking for literature that represents children living with disabilities? These books don’t tell the story about a disability but rather the child’s everyday activities. They also teach able children to include children living with disabilities and promote accessibility.

LGBTQIA+ Diversity

Are you looking for literature that discusses unique experiences for children within the LGTBQIA+ community? These books explore several topics related to gender identity, historical milestones in LGTBQIA+ history, and families with parents of the same gender identity.

Gender Diversity

Are you looking for literature that celebrates gender diversity and equality? Books covering these topics can be a subcategory of LGBTQIA+ children’s literature, but they may also discuss equal rights for women. These books gently teach children about equality for women, non-binary people, and transgender people.

Economic Diversity

Are you looking for literature that represents children from underrepresented economic communities? These books empathetically discuss financial insecurity in families. They may represent children living through homelessness or feature honest depictions of financial hardship.

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Where Can I Look for Diverse Children’s Books?

Diverse Book Finder

Diverse Book Finder follows a mission of providing inclusive and accessible children’s literature featuring underrepresented communities. They provide data and translate research to maintain the accessibility of all diverse books. They think outside the box of diversity and focus on how Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) are represented within their stories. They follow trends associated with specific communities and what messages are being sent in current diverse children’s literature.

We Need Diverse Books

We Need Diverse Books is a nonprofit and grassroots organization that advocates for the inclusion of diverse narratives in children’s literature. They aim to ensure all children are represented and seen in the books they read. They also advocate for changes in the publishing industry, mentor diverse authors and illustrators, and assist diverse publishing professionals.

Your Library Card Gives You Access to Everything

If your library doesn’t have the diverse book you’re looking for; they can get it for you from another library using a service available at almost every library. Otherwise known as ILL, interlibrary loan refers to the benefit of borrowing a book (and all other offered mediums) from another library. To initiate the process, speak to your local librarians to request the book you’re looking for and wait for it to come to your local library. The lending library will provide you with a due date and instructions for the book’s return. Interlibrary loan is almost always available for free. All you need to do is sign up for a library card.

Visit www.everylibrary.org to learn how you can help libraries defend diverse literature for children against increasing attacks. Your support will make a big difference.