Where can I find great diverse children’s books?

Recently The New York Times paired articles by Walter Dean Myers and his son Christopher Myers, discussing the lack of representation of people of color in children’s literature. Those excellent articles—which pointed out that in the long history of children’s literature we haven’t made much progress—caught the attention of best-selling author Jennifer Weiner, who started the #colormyshelf hashtag on Twitter asking for suggestions of diverse books that she could go purchase for her daughter. What a wonderful way to bring attention to what parents can do!

Just because diverse books don’t always show up front and center in bookstores doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Here’s a list of places to find great diverse books for young readers. Buy them, read them, recommend them. Showing demand for diverse books is one of the best ways to encourage the publication of more of them!

1. PublishersSeveral small publishers (us included) focus on diverse books. They’re a great place to start, and you can usually buy books from them directly, order them through an online retailer like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or ask your local bookstore to order them (which also displays a demand for diverse titles):

Lee & Low Books (diverse books for young readers featuring a range of cultures)Rainbow Stew image
Tu Books, an imprint of Lee & Low (diverse middle grade and young adult speculative fiction)
Children’s Book Press, an imprint of Lee & Low (bilingual English/Spanish picture books)
Shen’s Books, an imprint of Lee & Low Books (Asian/Asian American books for young readers)

Cinco Puntos Press (adult and children’s literature, and multicultural and bilingual books from Texas, the Mexican-American border, and Mexico)

Just Us Books (black interest and multicultural books for children and young adults)

Roadrunner Press (fiction and nonfiction for young readers focusing on the American West and America’s Native Nations)

Piñata Books, an imprint of Arte Público (juvenile and young adult books focused on Hispanic culture and by U.S. Hispanic authors)

Groundwood Books (Canadian publisher of books for young readers with a focus on diverse voices)

2. Blogs That Recommend Diverse BooksThere are some great bloggers out there who do the hard work of seeking out, reading, and recommending diverse children’s books, so you don’t have to! Just hop over to their blogs to find great new books to add to your collection:

The Brown Bookshelf (African American books)

American Indians in Children’s Literature (Native American books)

Latinos in KidLit (Latino books )

BookDragon (all diverse books, with a special focus on Asian/Pacific Islanders cultures)

Diversity in YA (diverse young adult books)

Rich in Color (diverse young adult books)

I’m Here! I’m Queer! What the Hell Do I Read? (LGBTQ books for young readers)

Crazy QuiltEdi (diverse books for all young readers)

Lee & Low Pinterest Board (diverse books searchable by genre and age)

Colorin Colorado (diverse books and book lists, including many bilingual books)

playground image from Marisol McDonald and the Clash Bash

3. AwardsIf you’re simply looking for the best of the best that’s been published each year, awards are the place. Books that win these awards have been vetted by experts (mostly librarians) so you can expect them to be top quality, beautiful, and culturally accurate.

Coretta Scott King Award (African American books)

Pura Belpré Award (Latino books)

Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature

Middle East Book Award

American Indian Youth Literature Award

South Asia Book Award

Rainbow Project Reading List (LGBTQ books for young readers)

Américas Book Award (Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino books)

Tomás Rivera Book Award (Mexican American books)

Notable Books for a Global Society (outstanding trade books that help promote understanding across lines of culture, race, sexual orientation, values, and ethnicity)

4. Bookstores: If you prefer to purchase your books through good old-fashioned browsing, there are several great independent bookstores that make it a point to stock diverse books. Below are a few we’ve been to, or that have been recommended to us by readers. If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by to support them!

Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA

Calamus Bookstore, Boston, MAGirl Reading, from Destiny's Gift

La Casa Azul New York, NY

Women and Children First, Chicago, IL

The Book Stall, Winnetka, IL

Politics and Prose, Washington DC

Teaching for Change Bookstore, Washington DC

The Flying Pig Bookstore, Shelburne, VT

Birchbark Books, Minneapolis, MN

Ancestry Books, Minneapolis, MN (coming soon)

Antigone Books, Tucson, AZ

Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA

Librería Martinez, Santa Ana, CA

What did we miss? Let us know in the comments!

note: Updated 3/24 to add additional resources for finding books with LGBTQ content

19 Comments

  1. jacquelinegrant282395071
    Posted March 21, 2014 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    You can also try our books at Gunga Peas Books. They are also available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

  2. Maureen Milton
    Posted March 21, 2014 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Another interesting and useful site for international titles in many languages is the biannual IBBY Honor List, described as “a biennial selection of outstanding, recently published books, honouring writers, illustrators and translators from IBBY member countries. The IBBY Honour List is one of the most widespread and effective ways of furthering IBBY’s objective of encouraging international understanding through children’s literature.” http://www.ibby.org/index.php?id=270

  3. Jolynn Asato
    Posted March 22, 2014 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    Multicultural Hawai’i has a vibrant children’s book scene aimed at Asian Pacific Islander communities. Publishers like Island Heritage Books http://www.welcometotheislands.com/Children-Books/b/7915568011?ie=UTF8&title=Children and Bess Press http://besspress.com/products/category/Childrens-Literature.html put out many of the books I loved small kid time.

  4. Susan Post
    Posted March 22, 2014 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    BookWoman
    in Austin, Tejas

  5. Posted March 22, 2014 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    CCBC has a rather thorough listing of small presses here https://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/books/pclist.asp

  6. Posted March 22, 2014 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    USBBY, the U.S. section of IBBY, also publishes an annual list of Outstanding International Books, or books published outside of the U.S. prior to publication or distribution in the U.S. The list and related information can be found at http://www.usbby.org under “Awards and Lists.”

  7. Posted March 23, 2014 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    I recommend FarFaria (www.farfaria.com). We have an extensive ebook library for children with stories from around the world, representing children of various backgrounds and cultures.

  8. Hannah
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Thank you all for the recommendations! Keep ‘em coming!

  9. Catherine
    Posted March 25, 2014 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    Marcus Book Stores, San Francisco

    http://www.marcusbookstores.com/

  10. lje1
    Posted March 27, 2014 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Laurie J. Edwards ~ Author, Artist, Dreamer… and commented:

  11. Posted March 27, 2014 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    For more African children’s books try Tutu’s Storybooks out of Washington, DC. Owned/Operated by a licensed and experienced Teacher. https://shop.tutusstorybooks.com

  12. Posted March 27, 2014 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for these resources! For multicultural and urban children’s lit recommendations by teachers, plus links to teaching guides and author and illustrator websites, check out Kids Like Us at http://www.kidslikeus.org or follow @KLUBooks.

  13. Posted April 10, 2014 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    Please correct the listing under bookstores for Busboys and Poets. It should be Teaching for Change Bookstore and this is the link to the webstore: http://bbpbooks.teachingforchange.org/ The store is run independently by TfC — we are a non-profit organization with a progressive, independent bookstore.

    Please notify me when the correction is made. We promote and sell a lot of Lee and Low titles in the store.
    Thanks.

  14. Hannah
    Posted April 11, 2014 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Hi Deborah,
    Thanks for the correction. The name of the store and link have now been updated.

    Best,
    Hannah

  15. Posted April 30, 2014 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    I would add Barefoot Books (www.barefootbooks.com) under the Publishing category above, and Mama-Lady Books under the Blogs. Mama-Lady Books is my site where I have created a book list by continent, narrowed down to specific countries and/or cultures, with my recommendations for children’s picture books that are written about, set in, with characters from, or authored by someone from that country or culture. It’s a work in progress, but hopefully is growing to be a good resource for parents and educators! http://www.mama-lady-books.com/books.html

  16. Posted May 2, 2014 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this wonderful resource.

  17. Posted May 2, 2014 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    So disappointed that Barefoot Books isn’t on your list of go-to publishers! We have an amazing collection of multi-cultural stories and tales. Check it out!

  18. Posted May 29, 2014 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Please add Charis Books & More! And hereis a list of the remaining feminist bookstores in North America: http://www.charisbooksandmore.com/independent-feminist-bookstores-across-north-america

    Thank you!

  19. Posted June 26, 2014 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Star Bright Books – we are a small publisher and we get lost in the masses but please take a look at our web site! We service many literacy programs, RIF, ROR, PAT, Head Start, and more with our books. We believe that all children should see themselves in print and we make a concerted effort to include children of all colors, nationalities, and abilities in our books. In addition to seeing themselves, children should also hear familiar language in the books they choose. In pursuit of that goal, we publish engaging books in Twenty languages.


8 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] *“Where Can I Find Great Diverse Children’s Books?” at Lee & Low. […]

  2. […] Here is a helpful list of blogs sites, publishers and book stores who publish or review books that reflect the lives of our students in NYC. […]

  3. […] Where can I find great diverse children’s books? […]

  4. […] Do you need resources to help diversify your library? I highly recommend the awards lists from ALA, but also Lee and Low (a great publisher that strives to publish diverse works) has a great list of resources on this page: http://blog.leeandlow.com/2014/03/21/where-can-i-find-great-diverse-childrens-books/ […]

  5. […] job of promoting diversity and listening to all the voices is Lee and Low Books who on their blog and other social media highlight other publishers and the discussion around the need for diverse […]

  6. […] Where can I find great diverse children’s books? A resource list […]

  7. […] http://blog.leeandlow.com/2014/03/21/where-can-i-find-great-diverse-childrens-books/ […]

  8. […] Where Can I Find Great Diverse Children’s Books? (Lee & Low) […]

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