Books for ALL of UsThe beauty of books about all kinds of people is that we learn so much more about life. Try these awesome girl recs!Boetama from AfarBy Simone Fernandez
Many of us inhale the books we love, and we treasure characters who we feel resonate with us. Books tell hundreds of different stories, each one a unique story with unique and diverse characters. But how unique are the books available to us?
Not very diverse, reports the Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s annual survey of kids’ books. In 2018, half of children’s books were about white kids, and 27% were about animals or non-humans. The leftover slice was divided among all the groups of children of color, ranging from 10% of books about African or African-American children to only 1% about American Indians/First Nation kids.
Very few children’s books feature LGBT+ characters or disabled protagonists. In a 2017 survey of picture books—where art and not imagination shows exactly what the character looks like—only 21 books out of thousands had children with disabilities. And boys still outnumber girls as lead characters in all books. Kids usually live in comfortable homes; poor kids are rarely the focus.
How does this impact children? If children and teens only see books featuring one kind of protagonist over and over and over, it will seem clear to them that perhaps this is the only successful protagonist. Plus, in order to understand one another better as people, we need to learn to see things from another person’s viewpoint. We need to learn how different facets of a person can impact how they go through life. It’s very important to have books that show all different kinds of people.
How can we help? By reading and buying diverse books. I’ve picked up many diverse books that have been recommended to me, especially by someone on NMG’s community. Plenty of books are out there waiting to be read, but you may never have heard of them. If you fi nd a book you love and then recommend it to a friend, they might love it as well. They may tell other kids or adults, such as teachers, who may put the book in their class.
Now many more people will read this wonderful book, all because someone told you about it and you told others. Let’s create this butterfl y effect by spreading the word about all the great diverse books!
Simone, 14, Georgia, likes to write, paint, read, and sit outside in the rain.Read Away the Day!Simone asked girls to post about diverse books they love—here's a sampling. And girls gave more recs in our NMG diverse books poll. Find many more great recs at We Need Diverse Books DiverseBooks.org).
Afar by Leila del Duca Boetema can astral project to other planets, but she must learn to control her powers. Rec by Simone, 14, Georgia Blended by Sharon Draper Isabella, 11, fi nds it hard to switch homes from her dad, who’s African-American, and her white mom. Then the family deals with violence during a police stop. Rec by Grace, 12, Minnesota The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James by Ashley Herring Blake Sunny must deal with heart surgery, reconnecting with her absent mom, and feelings for another girl. Rec by Ella, 11, Pennsylvania