Diversify Your Bookshelf

“Once children see themselves represented in books, their existence is validated, and they feel that they are part of the world.”

Eric Velasquez (award winning author and/or illustrator of many children’s books including Grandma’s Records and Grandma’s Gift)

As adoptive parents, we have an extra responsibility to make sure our homes reflect not only the culture and ethnicity of the people who live there, but also of the people our children will encounter in their schools, neighborhood, and world.

It’s no secret that children need to see themselves in the literature they read. They also need to see people other than themselves. Our white children need to read about Black children, Muslim adults, disabled individuals, teachers and unsung heroes, and mail carriers. Our Black children need to read about heroes who look like them and also people who are Asian, Latinx, white, LGBTQ, and marginalized. Our able bodied children need to read about the experience of disabled children. Our boys need stories about powerful and strong women and our girls need stories about kind and emotional men. Making sure our children are never exposed to a single story about any particular group of people will better prepare them to enter the world with less bias and more compassion.

Laurie Edwards, an associate teaching professor in the writing program at Northeastern University writes here:

“I recognize the inherent privilege I have in seeking out opportunities to tackle these topics with my daughter. So far, and unlike many children, her experiences with racism and bias have largely occurred within the pages of books, not in the real world.

Books aren’t the panacea for all that ails us, and conversations alone won’t solve the disparities in our world, but diverse books give parents a way to shape the conversation we have with our children about these issues, and they give children a natural entry point into an existing dialogue. It’s one we can’t afford not to have.”

Recommended Resources:

We Need Diverse Books

Here Wee Read

Peace Library

Collaborative Classroom

This article from The Guardian

Social Justice Books

Disability in KidLit

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