We Need Diverse Books

There’s a huge campaign right now called We Need Diverse Books. If you’re a social media geek where literature is concerned, I’m sure you’ve noticed #weneeddiversebooks as you scroll through your timeline. The campaign appealed to me because I’m a big advocate of the second law of library science:  every reader his or her book. There’s no better way to get a child motivated about reading than to provide him or her with a book they can connect with. And for some, this means providing them with books where the characters “look like” them.

What is diverse? Does diverse mean just providing books with black characters or written by black authors? Absolutely not! There are so many types of books that can be considered diverse. I think it’s important we have books that relate to minorities and people of color, religion, disabilities, gender identity and LGBTQ. Books that incorporate these various themes provide opportunities for bibliotherapy, learning, and sensitivity. If you aren’t familiar with bibliotherapy, it’s a form of therapy in which books are used to help individuals through personal, emotional problems. Providing access to and promoting diverse books offer readers a look into the lives of others as well as a chance to understand cultures and lifestyles in an effort to become sensitive to them.

As you can see in this infographic, there’s a lack of diverse books in comparison to the immense number of books published annually.

So, do we need diverse books? Of course! But first, let’s start with the ones we already have. Recently, I’ve read of instances where educators have endured backlash (for different reasons) for their use of diverse books in the classroom during storytimes. As an individual who is open-minded about reading and tries to encourage that in the students I serve, this bothers me for two reasons. One, because of the closed-minded persons who frown upon celebrating diversity. And two, because of the fear of retribution created in educators because of such headlines. So, my challenge to educators, parents, and others who influence our children and youth is for you to not only encourage a love of reading, but also expose them to the many different types of people, cultures, and lifestyles that make up our diverse country. By exposing them, we inform them; in return, creating a society of open-minded, sensitive, and empathic citizens. Earlier this year, I accepted the We Need Diverse Books challenge to read 15 diverse books this year. To date, I’ve read 21 and am still reading. Will you take the challenge? If you need a place to start, visit your local library and check out these diverse titles.


Big Red Lollipoplollipop

Written by Rukhsana Khan

Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Published by Viking, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-670-06287-4

Format: Picturebook

40 Pages ~ Ages 5-8

What makes it diverse? Arab American

Last Stop on Market Streetmarket

Written by Matt de la Peña

Illustrated by Christian Robinson

Published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-25774-2

Format: Picturebook

40 Pages ~ Ages 5-7

What makes it diverse? African-American

Head over to my previous blogs Playing Catch UpWhen Love Wins, and Jazz Journey for some other recommendations.

All the Way to America: The Story of a Big Italian Family and a Little Shovelitalian

Written & illustrated by Dan Yaccarino

Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-96642-2

Format: Picturebook

40 Pages ~ Ages 5-9

What makes it diverse? Italian American

Head over to my previous blogs Playing Catch UpWhen Love Wins, and Jazz Journey for some other recommendations.

Middle Grades/Young Adult

El Deafoel deafo

Written & illustrated by CeCe Bell

Published by Amulet, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-419-71020-9

Format: Graphic novel

40 Pages ~ Ages 8-12

What makes it diverse? protagonist is Deaf

Stella by Starlightstella

Written by Sharon Draper

Published by Simon & Schuster, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-9497-8

Format: Fiction

320 Pages ~ Ages 9-13

What makes it diverse? African-American

American Born Chinesechinese

Written & illustrated by Gene Luen Yang

Published by First Second, 2006

ISBN: 978-1-596-43208-6

Format: Graphic novel

240 Pages ~ Ages 14-18

What makes it diverse? Asian American

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indianatd

Written by Sherman Alexie

Art by Ellen Forney

Published by First Second, 2006

ISBN: 978-0-316-01368-0

Format: Graphic novel

229 Pages ~ Ages 14-18

What makes it diverse? Indian


Written by R.J. Palacio

Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86902-0

Format: Fiction

315 Pages ~ Ages 9-12

What makes it diverse? Protagonist with a facial deformity


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