Improving the diversity in children’s literature has been getting a lot of attention over the course of the last few years–and for good reason! We’ve got a long way to go. Big shout out to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign and everyone else who’s doing this important work!
At the same time, there’s a lot more to the conversation about diversity & equity in children’s literature than simply making bookshelves more diverse. As exemplified by the recent release and then swift recall of A Birthday Cake for George Washington, just because a book features a non-white character doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an anti-bias book. On this topic, Louise Derman-Sparks has done some fantastic work putting together An Updated Guide for Selecting Anti-Bias Children’s Books, which we’ve turned into the handy tip-sheet below:
This webinar, Using an Anti-Bias Lens to Examine Early Childhood Childrens Books in Your Program, hosted by Linda Santora and Cheryl Kilodavis is also a great resource. And so is this post by Dr. Cathy Gutierrez-Gomez on Tips for Choosing Culturally Appropriate Books & Resources About Native Americans.
And secondly, we’ve gotta think carefully and critically about what happens when we take our high-quality, diverse, anti-bias children’s literature off the shelf and actually use them in our homes and classrooms. How do we use these books to create meaningful experiences for young children that open up and support ongoing conversations about diversity and equity? At the end of the day, we have to remember that while books are amazing resources (we LOVE books!), they do not do the work of anti-bias education for us. That’s still up to us. We’ve put together some Dos and Dont’s below. What would you add to the list?
The blog Raising Race Conscious Children also has some great tips and strategies.
And finally, while you might have created your own personal library full of diverse, anti-bias children’s literature, there is still a larger systemic problem that you can (and should!) play a role in addressing. Check out this fantastic post: Ten Steps to Promote Diversity in Children‘s Literature by Wade Hudson.