Diversity in Kid Lit- It’s not just about color.

diversity1

As I was reading the CBC Diversity article “Here I am” by Brian Pinkney I couldn’t help but think about my reluctance to read “boy” books when I was younger. I only wanted to read books with girl protagonists or mostly female characters at least. I didn’t think that I would find boy adventures interesting or a boy’s perspective relevant, but I’m sure you can imagine how many awesome books I was missing out on because my prejudice.

Diversity isn’t only an issue about color. It’s about sex, culture, disabilities, class, and even religion. Kid lit is the perfect place to start exposing children to lifestyles that differ from their own. It is the responsibility of librarians, teachers, and parents to employ diversity into the books that they buy and read to children. I think that Pinkney’s tips are a great way to get kids interested in different kinds of books than they are comfortable with:

  1. Cover Conversations: Before even opening a book, engage a child in a discussion about its cover by saying, “Wow, look at that boy on the front. He’s got drumsticks in his hand. What do you think this story is about?” And then inviting the reader open the book to find out more.
  2. Make it Personal: Ask a kid, “What are some of the things in this story that are similar to your own life, family, school, dreams, plans, etc.?
  3. Teachers Teach:  Insist that your child’s teacher or school librarian always, under all circumstances, include books during story times and in classroom libraries that include people of color. Most folks are well-intentioned, but sometimes forget.
  4. Sail Away: Let a book’s story drive a child’s interest, rather than the color of its characters. Invite kids to create their own adventures based on the book’s themes.
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5 thoughts on “Diversity in Kid Lit- It’s not just about color.

  1. Great post! I like the unique perspective you have to offer. I agree that there are a lot of things I probably missed out on along the way because I approached some literature with an attitude that I wouldn’t like it before I knew what it was about it that I wouldn’t have liked. The tips you presented that I like the most are Cover Conversations and Sail Away. We should be letting the story drive the desire to read a book and not the color of the character.

  2. I think those tips are great as well. Getting schools stocked up with books of all kinds is so important, no matter what the student make-up is. Not only do kids need to find themselves in books, but also be exposed to all characters!

  3. I love the picture you chose the put with this blog! I think as a kid you don’t think about diversity and so teaching them about it is our responsibility as educators!

    1. I couldn’t agree more! It’s kind of human nature to be un-accepting of things or people we don’t understand… So I think its vital that we help children understand as early on as possible!

  4. I completely agree children’s literature is a wonderful way to expose children to different lifestyles. I always believe if you expose children to different things and you do it with complete confidence then they are more accepting and don’t view it as something so different.

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