Talking About Race in Children's Literature: Commentary and Resources

Check out The Horn Book’s list of resources that talk about race in children’s books.

Children’s Books That Tackle Race and Ethnicity

A round-up of children’s books that reflect racial diversity. @nytimesheadline


How Diverse Is Children's Literature? This Infographic Tells The Disturbing Truth

“Although children’s book publishing appears to be slowly growing more diverse, it remains to be seen whether the trend toward inclusive content will continue.” @bustle  


A Festival For Mixed-Race Storytellers — And Everyone Else, Too

‘Our greatest goal is for people to recognize that the mixed experience is very much the American experience.” @nprcodeswitch @npr


The 2015 VIDA Count

“Some women writers are better represented in print in terms of race, gender identity, sexual identity and ability than others. This closer look enables us to ask why some are underrepresented.” via


Happy in Our Skin by Fran Manushkin, illustrated by Lauren Tobia (Candlewick Press, August 2015). All rights reserved.

People Of Color With Albinism Ask: Where Do I Belong?

“In a society where race is intrinsic to the fabric of our society…where do people of color, but without color, fit? Do they need to fit? And how should everyone else change their own perceptions about albinism?” @nprcodeswitch


New and Forthcoming African-American Titles for Young Readers, 2015-2016

A roundup of new and upcoming releases by authors of color, featuring African American voices.


We Need Diverse Books . . . But Are We Willing to Discuss Them With Our Kids? — A Fuse #8 Production

For my birthday my husband picked me up a copy of the bestselling book NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.  To be frank, I hadn’t heard of it.  Though its been called “The Freakonomics of child rearing” and lauded by reviewer after reviewer it’s from the world of adult books.  I traipse there but rarely.  Still, I’m great with child (ten days away from the due date, in fact) and this promised to be a fascinating read.  Covering everything from the detrimental effects that come with telling a kid that they’re smart to aggression in the home I settled down and devoured it with pleasure.  In doing so, one chapter in particular caught my eye.  Chapter Three: “Why White Parents Don’t Talk About Race: Does teaching children about race and skin color make them better of or worse?”

Culling several studies together, the book makes the point that while, “Nonwhite parents are about three times more likely to discuss race than white parents; 75% of the latter never, or almost never, talk about race.”  Studies that required that parents do so with their young children saw white parent after white parent balk at the idea.  There’s this notion out there that children are little innocents and that pointing out race will somehow taint their race blind worldview.  Turns out, nothing could be further from the truth.  Anyone who has ever had a kid will know that they like to categorize themselves and their friends into groups.  Race is the easiest way to do so, so from a very early age the children will be prone to “in-group favoritism”.

–Elizabeth Bird, New York Public Library’s Youth Materials Collections Specialist

Read the rest of this interesting article here and check out the picture book list Elizabeth put together at the end highlighting useful books for caregivers to use to discuss race, religion, and alternative lifestyles with young children.

Mitali's Fire Escape: Race, Culture, and Power in Children's Stories

Writer Mitali Perkins has been teaching a course at Saint Mary’s College of California called “Race, Culture, and Power in Children’s Stories.” She plans to lead discussions on topics such as analytical writing, authenticity in storytelling, and the messages about race and culture presented in children’s books.

At one point in the course, Perkins will talk about faces and question whether or not young adult and middle grade novels should depict faces on the jackets. Is it appropriate to feature faces on book covers? Perkins shared two presentations constructed by her students with points that support both arguments.

The CBC Diversity initiative was founded in 2012, as part of the Children’s Book Council’s commitment to promoting diverse voices in literature for young people.