More, More, More…Books for Young Interracial Readers

The Washington Post ran an essay today by Nevin Martell, who had trouble finding books that featured interracial characters for his son. Martell points out that, even as there is a lack of diversity in children’s books, “there is a depressing dearth of interracial ones.” And, the books that are out there (like in these lists in Cynthia Leitich Smith and What Do We Do All Day) are often about being biracial, rather than featuring a child who is experiencing something that has nothing to do with his background but just happens to be biracial.

I couldn’t agree more with Martell—we need more books that interracial children can look at and say, “they’re just like me!”

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In reading with my daughter, the books that have reflected her interracial experience the most have been Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers and More, More, More, said the Baby by Vera Williams (Little Pumpkin has a grandma who is light-skinned). My daughter is still young, and by the time we get to reading longer picture books and early novels, I hope there are more “mirrors” for her.

A Bookshelf Resolution

new-years-resolution I recently came across the Babble post The Lack of Diversity in Books and Movies Hurts All of Our Kids by Brian Gresko. Gresko lays out the fundamentals—that books help children build their concept of the world, and if there are no strong, multi-dimensional, fully-developed characters of color then children may take away stereotypes and prejudice, even from well-intentioned books that feature characters of color in the background.

Gresko makes the argument that we need to use consumerism to drive the demand for diverse books and media. “Because,” he writes, “if we’re not putting our money where our values are, then publishers and producers will feel no pressure to broaden the diversity on screen or page…our children will internalize the white-centric image of the world that they see in their narratives without question.”

Of course, I couldn’t agree more. I’ve already built my daughter’s bookshelf with books that feature a range of diversity (in board books, anyway) like Everywhere Babies by Susan Myers, Baby Cakes by Karma Wilson, and books that feature diverse baby faces. This year, I commit to seeking out more books that feature authentic diversity for my daughter and asking relatives who buy us books to do the same. Finally, a resolution that’ll last beyond February!

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Here are three organizations that can help you build your own diverse bookshelf, and use supply-and-demand to drive diversity:

We Need Diverse Books

Bee Me Books

The Brown Bookshelf