In April 2014, authors Ellen Oh and Malinda Lo exchanged tweets expressing their frustration about the lack of diversity in children’s literature. They decided, along with some other authors, bloggers and book industry people, that it was time to take action, and on April 24, 2014, Aisha Saeed sent the first tweet with the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks. Since then WNDB has become an established and active voice for diversity in children’s and teen literature.
The website for We Need Diverse Books explains the benefits of children reading books by and about a diverse range of people:
- They reflect the world and people of the world
- They teach respect for all cultural groups
- They serve as a window and a mirror and as an example of how to interact in the world
- They show that despite differences, all people share common feelings and aspirations
- They can create a wider curiosity for the world
- They prepare children for the real world
- They enrich educational experiences
WNDB recognizes diversity as “including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.” In our Library we support the idea of diversity in kids’ books, and have many books about a wide range of diverse experiences appropriate for kids of all ages. Here are just a few of our favorites:
Picture Books and Chapter Books
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant
Morris loves to wear the orange dress from the school dress-up box, but is teased and isolated by his classmates until he helps them realize that what you wear is less important than who you are.
Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez
Tyler’s father tries to save their farm in Vermont by hiring undocumented Mexican workers. Despite Tyler’s initial reservations, he soon becomes friends with Mari, the daughter of one of the workers.
Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle
An eighth-grader who dreams of performing in a Broadway musical concocts a plan to run away to New York and audition for the role of Elliot in the musical version of “E.T.”