You’re either going to love us or hate us. Today, we bring you a relatively simple little site with a powerful mission. It’s so simple and so powerful that you might just wonder where the time went as you explore!
Ever since our chapter on multicultural classroom resources for the urban literacy educator was published last year in a collection of articles on literacy practices for urban elementary students, we have kept our ear to the ground for resources in the area of multicultural literature. As educators, we are all aware of the need to fill our libraries with books that every student can identify with, but it isn’t always easy to find diverse books.
The creators of this resource are “academics and professionals from the fields of psychology, children’s books, and library science who care deeply about representation in children’s books.” Their mission is two-fold, and both parts are so important. The first is to bring balance and diversity so that all children can “find themselves reflected and celebrated” in the books they’re reading. This is huge. Students need to be able to develop personal connections to the things they’re reading and to do that, they have to be able to see themselves. The second part of the mission of this team is to more closely examine available literature to see “who (which groups) are represented in recent American children’s picture books and how (what themes predominate for each group), and what that communicates about how members of each group are perceived in contemporary America.” It is so important for us to provide multiple perspectives for students. This could be provided through texts and our instruction, but should also come across through student discussions. I truly believe that we should learn about other cultures and religions to become more tolerant and accepting of others and to become more grounded in our own beliefs. In my class, I want my students to understand that there will always be different points of view, all are valued, and differences should be celebrated.
As they’ve examined the body of children’s literature published in the US since 2002, the researchers have organized a collection of nine categories that capture dominant themes throughout books that feature diverse characters. They’ve also created collections (lovely lists of books!) with titles on popular topics within multicultural literature, such as adoption, immigrants/refugees, new siblings, skin tone, etc.: https://diversebookfinder.org/books/collections/
The crowning glory of this site is their extensive search feature: https://diversebookfinder.org/books/
You can do a quick keyword search, or you can browse by applying a series of filters, beginning with the nine established categories, and going all the way to genre. WOW! This is such a valuable resource! You could probably spend a lot of time looking through these books! The results lists are really user-friendly as well – you can see the cover of the book and get a brief description, as well as a list of themes.
They do give a disclaimer that this list is not necessarily a list of recommended titles. Their whole goal is to include as many books featuring human characters of color as possible in order to provide broader access to multicultural literature. They state that “we don’t believe anyone can or should be the single, final arbiter of good and bad within the diverse books world.” It is up to you to determine if the title is appropriate for your classroom. You can also use this as a teaching moment because even “inauthentic, inaccurate, or stereotypical books can shed light on important issues.” So have those conversations with your students as you expose them to different perspectives and cultures through literature.
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