Diverse Kids Books–Reviews

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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

happy_new_year_2015_cartoon

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

How Common Core’s book choices fail children of color

** Children must be able to envision possibilities for their futures. And they must fall in love with books. Culturally relevant books help children discover a passion for reading.**

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, researchers asked, “What do good readers do?” They found that good readers make connections to themselves and their communities. When classroom collections are largely by and about white people, white children have many more opportunities to make connections and become proficient readers. Appendix B of the common core []consistently marginalizes multicultural children’s literature: book lists, school book fairs and book order forms, literacy textbooks (books that teach teachers), and transitional books (books that help children segue from picture books to lengthier texts). [] we must stock classrooms with mirror books for all children. This change in our classroom libraries will also allow children of the dominant culture to see literature about others who look different and live differently.

A second reason we must ensure that all children have mirror books is identity development. They must []see[] artists, writers, political leaders, judges, mathematicians, astronauts, and scientists [that look like them]. They must see authors and illustrators who look like them on book jackets. Children must be able to envision possibilities for their futures. And they must fall in love with books. Culturally relevant books help children discover a passion for reading.

the open book

The Common Core has become a hot-button political issue, but one aspect that’s gone larGuest postgely under the radar is the impact the curriculum will have on students of color, who now make up close to 50% of the student population in the U.S. In this essay, Jane M. Gangi, an associate professor in the Division of Education at Mount Saint Mary College and Nancy Benfer, who teaches literacy and literature at Mount Saint Mary College and is also a fourth-grade teacher, discuss the Common Core’s book choices, why they fall short when it comes to children of color, and how to do better. Originally posted at The Washington Post, this article was reposted with the permission of Jane M. Gangi.How Common Core's Book Choices Fail Children of Color

Children of color and the poor make up more than half the children in the United States. According to the latest census, 16.4 million children (22 percent) live in poverty, and close…

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Call for Submissions

kids_writingMDR, the ‘zine for children from Mixed Diversity Reads Children’s Book Review is seeking prose, poetry and illustrations featuring as protagonists children who fall into one of the seven categories of diversity to which the website is dedicated. The target publication date for the first issue is December 6th and submissions need to be sent no later than November 6th. Please see submissions guidelines here http://mixeddiversityreads.com/mdr-a-diversity-magazine-of-childrens-writing-and-art/mdr-submissions/

Let Garcelle Beauvais Read Your Children Their Bedtime Story Tonight in Person, For Free

cover for I am Living in 2 HomesLos Angeles, CA

Friday September 12
7pm
PAJAMA READING PARTY.

ALL ARE WELCOME

Come one, come all to a beautiful evening where authors Garcelle Beauvais and Sebastian A. Jones will read to you and your kids their two books from the I Am Book Series, I AM MIXED and I AM LIVING IN 2 HOMES. Get your copies signed. Take a pic. You never know who will show up.

I_Am_Mixed_cover-600x598Barnes & Noble at the Grove
189 Grove Dr K30,
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Omilaju Miranda, Founder of Mixed Diversity Reads, Recognized on Thank You Page

gratitude page from I am living in two homes Authors of I Am Living in 2 Homes and I Am Mixed, Sebastian A. Jones and Garcelle Beauvais thanked the founder of Mixed Diversity Reads Children’s Book Review, Omilaju Miranda, amongst other contributors and mixed and multiracial community advocates on the gratitude page of I Am Living in 2 Homes. Pre-book sales of I Am Living in 2 Homes started in June and August 19, 2014 was the release date for the book, which features fraternal twins of mixed heritage, working through the joys and sorrows of life in the aftermath of their parents’ divorce.  Read our review and buy the title for your kids.