You may have heard about a movement in the book world called We Need Diverse Books. In 2014, #WeNeedDiverseBooks started as a hashtag on Twitter among authors, bloggers, and others from the youth literature industry in response to a lack of diversity in children's books. From there this conversation grew to a movement and ultimately an organization that champions the importance of diversifying children's literature, both in terms of who books are by and who they are about.
So why are diverse books in children's literature important? From the We Need Diverse Books website:
What benefits are there to reading diverse books?
- They reflect the world and people of the world
- They teach respect for all cultural groups
- They serve as a window and a mirror and as an example of how to interact in the world
- They show that despite differences, all people share common feelings and aspirations
- They can create a wider curiosity for the world
- They prepare children for the real world
- They enrich educational experiences
To that end, I'm excited to highlight some of the exceptional children's books here at ELPL that are by and about diverse populations.
Jacqueline Woodson is, in my opinion, one of the preeminent children's authors of the day. I have had the privilege of seeing her speak, and the amount of thought and heart she pours into her work is simply staggering, and Brown Girl Dreaming is no exception. An autobiography written in verse, this book chronicles her childhood in the 1960s and 1970s, from growing up with her grandparents in South Carolina to moving to Brooklyn. Woodson touches on broad concepts as well as the personal, with a central thread -- the realities of growing up black in a rapidly changing world -- tying the work together.
The language Woodson uses is evocative and packs a punch. Even those who aren't typically fans of novels in verse will be absorbed by Woodson's unique command of language, and the immersive experience she communicates with, at times, just a few words.
With scores of well-deserved awards (including the 2015 Coretta Scott King Award and recognition as a Newbery Honor book), this is without a doubt a must read for everyone, and an future classic.