Diverse Kids Books–Reviews

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Heather Has Two Mommies –25th Anniversary Revised Edition by Leslea Newman #DiverseKidsBooks

Heather-Has-Two-Mommies 25th EditionPerhaps you’ve heard of Heather Has Two Mommies already, because after all, the book has twenty-five years of controversial history under its belt. But in 2015, this new edition really doesn’t come across controversial anymore. The main conflict in the story is how Heather will fare on her first day of school, not how many mommies she has. As the teacher Ms. Molly at the end of the book says, “Each family is special. The most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other.”

Grammatically, the last two words should have been “one another” (three or more people), not “each other” (two people), but we can excuse that because “two” is a recurring theme in this book. It’s Heather’s favorite number and reflected everywhere in her life: she has two arms, legs, eyes, ears, hands, feet, pets, and mommies.

Although at one point during story time Heather wonders, “Am I the only one here who doesn’t have a daddy?” we realize this isn’t the case when the teacher invites the class to draw pictures of their families. The results illustrate a variety of families: traditional nuclear, single mother, single father, three-generation, divorced and remarried, and of course, Heather with her two mommies.

Heather Has Two Mommies is a first-day-of-school story that honors all kinds of families, as a socially-conscious children’s book should. This book will help any family transitioning a child to a new classroom or environment as well as teach them that while we come from different homes, what matters most is love and acceptance.

Recommended: 3+

Reviewer: Yu-Han Chao

Buy Heather Has Two Mommies-25th Anniversary Edition


Rad American Women A-Z –Diverse Women’s History ABCs by Kate Schatz #DiverseKidsBooks

Rad American Women A-ZWhat’s not to love about an alphabet book with twenty-six profiles of two centuries’ worth of diverse, accomplished women in the arts, sciences, sports, and politics, especially when they’re accompanied by bold, wood-cut style portraits in primary colors?

Children and adults alike will enjoy reading about artist Maya Lin, writer Zora Neale Hurston, Dr. Virginia Apgar, Olympic-winning Flo-Jo, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, and more. Each of these women’s stories alone is inspiring, but the collective argument they make is even more powerful: that women can be anything and do anything, and have.

Of the mix, X will likely be the favorite profile of many readers, as “X is for the women whose names we don’t know.” It credits the unsung, the unrecorded, uneducated, matriarchs, ancestors, “all that’s happening now and all that is still to come.” It’s not just for girls and women, either: “It’s for you and for me, the girls and boys and men and women and everyone in between helping to make the world safe, compassionate, and healthy.”

Rad American Women A-Z is a truly inclusive alphabet book for all readers, and even comes with suggested activities, “26 things that you can do to be rad,” a resource guide, books about rad women, further reading, and a list of websites and organizations. Great for home use, this book is also perfect for libraries and classrooms to incorporate into diverse curriculums.

Recommended: Highly, ages 5+.

Reviewer: Yu-Han Chao

Buy Rad American Women A-Z

Call For Submissions: Anthology By Ethiopian Adoptees

Light of Day Stories

Announcing a new and much-needed book for the adoption community.

Tentative Title:


 Editors: Aselefech Evans, Annette-Kassaye Berhanu, and Maureen McCauley Evans

IMG_8620 © national parks-worldwide.info

We are delighted to invite Ethiopian adoptees from around the world to submit essays about what Ethiopia means to you, and how being adopted has affected you. Your voice deserves to be heard. The book’s tentative title–Lions Roaring, Far From Home–is related to Ethiopian history and culture.

Here are some ideas for an essay: Recollections of early childhood in Ethiopia, and what you remember of life in Ethiopia prior to adoption. What life has been like for you in your adoptive country, and might have been like for you had you been raised in Ethiopia. Reflections on family in the country where you were raised, and family in Ethiopia, known or unknown.

You can write…

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Call For Book Reviewers –Diverse Children’s Books

Для ИнтернетаMixed Diversity Reads Children’s Book Review www.mixeddiversityreads.com is growing. We’ve just created a relationship with one of the largest publishers of children’s books in the United States and we need more Readers and Reviewers!

We review children’s books with protagonists who fall into all categories of underrepresented races, religions, family structures, disabilities, sexual orientation and gender identity. We need volunteers who love to read picture, chapter, MG, and YA books and write about them. We often “compensate” with a free copy of the books you review although half of our reviews are of digital copies of the books.  Although we have reviewers of all identities, we especially appreciate the “insider” perspective in our reviews so we strongly encourage those who are members of underrepresented populations or who teach or do library work with kids and/or teenagers from underrepresented populations to apply.

weneedreviewerscollage.jpgTo apply, send a short bio including why you are interested in working with us and attach two samples of your non-creative prose with a word count between between 250-300 words to mixeddiversityreads@gmail.com.

In the subject of the email write: Become a Book Reviewer.

Please visit our website and the “Volunteers Needed” Page of the site at http://mixeddiversityreads.com/internships-and-guest-reviewers/  before responding.

Newberry Honor Book, El Deafo by Cece Bell

020115 ALA MidwinterReading Cece Bell’s graphic memoir, El Deafo, is an experience. El Deafo, a 2015 Newbery Honor Book, tells the story of Bell’s childhood, beginning at age four when she loses her hearing from meningitis. The story follows Cece through the universal triumphs and insecurities, friendships and failures that come with growing up.

Cece fears that she’s too different from her hearing classmates and worries she won’t find any friends because of her clunky hearing aid, the Phonic Ear. El Deafo is the story of how Cece learns that her Phonic Ear is not only an aid for hearing, but a tool used to create her alternate identity and superhero counterpart: El Deafo.

Bell’s illustrations are clean and bright, paying tribute to the colorful characters that inhabit the memoir, while El Deafo‘s graphic novel form, coupled with the use of present tense and zoomorphic representations of characters as rabbits, creates just enough distance and immediacy for the reader to be constantly engaged. The graphic novel form, coupled with Bell’s neverending humor, provide the perfect highway to drive home Cece’s ability to accept and understand that her differences are her superpowers.

Recommendation: Highly Recommended; Age: 8-10+

Reviewer: Erin Koehler

Buy El Deafo

We Need Diverse Books #WNDB Short Story Contest

WNDB_ButtonThe We Need Diverse Books Short Story Contest

We Need Diverse Books (“WNDB”) is a grassroots organization created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature. WNDB is committed to the ideal that embracing diversity will lead to acceptance, empathy, and ultimately equality. We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities. Our mission is to promote or amplify diversification efforts and increase visibility for diverse books and authors, with a goal of empowering a wide range of readers in the process.

WNDB is proud to announce that Phoebe Yeh, VP/Publisher of Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House, has acquired publication rights to the Middle Grade WNDB Anthology, working title “Stories For All Of Us.” Ellen Oh, President of WNDB, will edit the anthology, which will have a January 2017 release date. Contributing authors include: Kwame Alexander, Sherman Alexie, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Pena, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Rachel Renee Russell, and Jacqueline Woodson.

The anthology will be in memory of Walter Dean Myers and it will be inspired by his quote: “Once I began to read, I began to exist.” Every new story contribution to this anthology will be by a diverse author.  Continue Reading about the Short Story Contest Rules and Deadline

Reading in Two Languages Just Makes Sense by Rachelle Escamilla

Back when I was teaching the young ones, I tried to read books with more than one language. I liked to read, out loud, in Spanish and the kids loved to hear languages that weren’t the ones they used most often. Those unfamiliar words seemed to travel into their brains and absorb or create little synaptic pathways; and because the word is so new and interesting, the child has to mouth it:           You say sun or sol. They repeat.    You say arbol or tree. They repeat.

When I teach reading to my students at a Community College in California I tell them:

reading-with-kids500You have to be active when reading! You have to read, speak, write and do!

So why not apply that principle to reading to children? Why not apply it to reading in two languages? It just makes sense. And now, even if you don’t know the words, you could just Google the pronunciation. Or you could brush up your Spanish or whatever on Duolingo. So reading a book with more than one language is super good for you, and probably fantastic for your child, who is always listening.


Rachelle doesn’t have children, but was a preschool teacher while she was getting her BA in Lit at San Jose State University and was a preschool substitute teacher while getting her MFA in Poetry from Pitt.

World of Children’s Books Still Very White; Real U.S. Children Increasingly People of Color

Five Thirty Eight Life image of children of color reading white characters

Spike Lee and Toni Morrison are two of my students’ favorite authors. Of course, their inclusion on our syllabus is not without controversy. For instance, Morrison’s beloved “Peeny Butter Fudge,” a collaboration with her son Slade, includes a recipe on the last page, and my students really want to make it. While there are no peanut allergies in my class this year, the recipe is much too sugary.

My students are 4 and 5 years old, and finding excellent books for them featuring people of color, kids with two dads, kids with no dad, or girls who slay dragons is a persistent challenge. Like many educators, I find myself returning to a handful of treasured titles, including “Peeny Butter Fudge” and Lee’s “Please, Baby, Please.”

Annual statistics from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center bear out what I know from visits to my local library. For three decades, the librarians at the center, a modest outfit at the University of Wisconsin, have tracked one dimension of diversity in books for children and young adults: racial diversity. Children’s and young adult literature (“kid lit”) represent a stubbornly white world even as U.S. children are increasingly people of color.

Since the center began tracking data in 1985, it has found underrepresentation of people of color both as authors and characters. Originally, it only tracked African-American authorship and content, finding just 18 new titles by African-American authors that first year.

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Happy Inclusive Literary New Year 2015


Nappy Hair: Performance and Discussion with Professor Neal Lester and Author Carolivia Herron

photo of Carolivia Herron, Neal Lester, Nappy Hair

Listen to the Call and Response Performance of Caroliva Herron’s children’s book Nappy Hair. Listen to minutes 5:10–10:38. 

Also, read our review of Nappy Hair.

Listen to Carolivia Herron speak about the evolution of the griot’s telling of this story at minutes 19:59-21:42