Integrating Our Bookshelves

wagon bookshelfphoto source: Petite Literary

Earlier this month, we celebrated International Children’s Book Day.  In doing so, I shared a few of my favorites growing up – books I read countless times because re-reading them gave the same pleasure and satisfaction the first go-round provided.  As some joined the conversation and shared their childhood favorites, inquiries also came in requesting suggestions for children’s books with characters who mirrored their child’s ethnicity as well as that of their child’s friends.

It’s no wonder that such inquiries were made as the disparity of the ethnicity of children’s book characters is great.  According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, “of the 3,200 children’s books surveyed in 2013, 93 were about African-Americans, 34 about American Indians, 69 about Asians and Pacific Americans and 57 about Latinos.” (Cooperative Children’s Book Center – School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison) That’s less than 8% of children’s books with characters of colors in a nation often described as a melting pot.  

Though a conversation can ensue discussing the various causes that result in the disproportionate representation or the necessity for children to see themselves in the books they read, I worked to provide a more immediate solution to the inquiries I received.  Below you will find numerous links to children’s booklists to better integrate all bookshelves.  You will also find a section with books with disabled characters.  As you comb through the resources below and make selections, I kindly suggest picking books from each section.

Please share with us the books you purchase and the ways in which your child(ren) responds to the books with “new” characters.  

-Ms. Harris

*Artchoo! – 7 African Culture Children’s Books
*Delightful Children’s Books – 12 Children’s Books About Africa
*The Guardian – 10 Best Contemporary African Books

*The Grio – 30 Classic Books to Inspire African-American Kids
*Barnes & Noble – African-American Boys – Children’s Fiction
*PBS – Books That Bring the Black Experience to Life
*School Library Journal – 2013 Middle Grade Black Boys
*LilySea Designs – Books For Kids On African-American History and Culture
*Arrowhead Library System – African-American Voices In Children’s Fiction
*For Harriet – 25 Empowering Books for Little Black Girls
*For Harriet – 25 More Empowering Books for Black Girls

Asian & Pacific American
*Indiana University East Asian Studies Center – Children’s Booklist
*In Culture Parent – Best Asian-American Children’s Books
*San Francisco Public Library – Children’s Books On the Asian American Experience
*PBS – Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Booklist
*HapaMama – Children’s Books for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
*Color in Colorado – Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
*Multicultural Lit – Vietnamese Americans
*Multicultural Lit – Korean Americans
*Multicultural Lit – Japanese Americans
*Multicultural Lit – Chinese Americans

Disability: Physical & Learning
*Good Reads – Best Children’s Books with Disability/Accessibility Themes
*NCLD – Recommended Reading for Children With LD
*Little Parachutes – Books On Physical Disabilities
*Humane Education – 13 Children’s Picture Books Whose Characters Have Special Needs
*Libraries For All – Real or Fictional Characters With Disabilities

*In Culture Parent – 9 Children’s Books for Hispanic Heritage Month
*Florida Department of Education – Hispanic Heritage Month 2014 Recommended Reading List
*Terra Experience – Children’s Books on Mayan Culture, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Latin America
*Scholastic – Hispanic Heritage Month
*Babble – Top 10 Children’s Picture Books to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Middle Eastern
*Multicultural Lit – Middle Eastern

*Harris County Public Library – 50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Read
*Scholastic – How To Choose the Best Multicultural Books

Native American
*Children’s Literature Network – Best Native American Books for Children and Young Adults
*American Indians In Children’s Literature – Top Board Books for Youngest Reader
*American Indians In Children’s Literature – Best Books Recommended for Elementary School
*American Indians In Children’s Literacture – Best Books Recommended for Middle School
*American Indians In Children’s Literature – Best Books Recommended for High School
*First Nation Literacy – K-12 Books & Resource List

South American
*Delightful Children’s Books – 10 Children’s Books About South America
*Sommer Reading – Children’s Picture Books About South America

Where Are the People of Color In Children’s Books – NY Times, 15 March 2014
Race, Gender and Disability In Today’s Children’s Literature
Statistics: Children’s Books By and About People of Color Published in the United States 



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