Head to the library or bookstore and take a detour to the picture book section. Pick out ten books at random and examine the illustrations on the page. How many of the pictures are animals personified as people? What is the percentage of illustrations where the main character is someone of color? Are the characters predominately girls or boys?
Have you ever noticed how un-diverse picture books really are?
One of the biggest factors in children being motivated to read is how they relate to the words and pictures on the page. Whether the book describes an every day routine, a tradition they celebrate or a face they look like, it matters to how a child connects with a book. In the short term we all enjoy books that take us outside of ourselves but imagine reading book after book where the main character doesn’t look like you? Don’t you think it would impact how you enjoy reading?
Diverse books need to have messages about every day kids participating in every day activities. When I worked in an inner city library I struggled to find diverse books that weren’t about heavy themes meant for older children. I wanted a simple book about a child visiting a store with a parent or going on vacation or heading to school or playing.
They were hard to find.
I want every child to open a book and see themselves on the page. I want the book to relate to the world they see around them. I don’t want any child to feel isolated or different. I never want a child to put reading aside because they don’t see themselves in the story.
It is time the pictures in our books start looking like the world around us.
Below are my favorite books with diverse characters participating in normal everyday routines. (The links will take you to Amazon. I was not paid to promote these particular books but if you make a purchase I do receive a small commission.)