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Read Across America: Why Diverse Books?

Diversity in Children's Literature

Children of diverse backgrounds reading books

Why are diverse children's books important? There are a lot of reasons. We'll get the conversation started and hope you continue it.

Many people think diverse children's books are meant solely for "diverse" children. African-American titles are meant for African-American children, Latino titles are meant for Latino children, books featuring LBGTQ+ storylines are for children who are from LBGTQ+ community, and so on.

If this is what you believe, you're partially correct.

All children should read and see stories that reflect themselves, their families, and their cultures. The reflection of oneself provides self-affirmation and validation. This helps children to see how they fit into our larger society, of which they are an integral part.

However, if white children are never exposed to literature representing our diverse world, according to Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, "they may get an exaggerated sense of their own self-worth and a false sense of what the word is like, because it's becoming more and more colorful and diverse as time goes on."

It's important for all children to be exposed to diverse books. When a child is provided with the opportunity to experience or get a glimpse at someone else's story, it will help them understand our world as a whole. With understanding comes empathy. 

When you're planning storytime for your children or incorporating literature in your classroom, deliberately choose books that include diverse experiences; including (but not limited to) gender diversity, people with disabilities, ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.

There are so many reasons diverse books are important. Why not share your thoughts and ideas about diverse children's literature with someone you know? 

Why are diverse books so important?

"Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange.

 

These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has  been created and recreated by the author.

 

When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror."

- Dr. Rudine Bishop, The Ohio State University

Children of diverse backgrounds reading books

Read Across America

Children of diverse backgrounds reading books

The National Education Association (NEA) launched Read Across America to encourage children to read more and also get them excited about reading. Literacy has been a long standing issue in Tennessee, by encouraging children to read we can help improve their performance in school - as well as their trajectory in life! 

In 2018, NEA moved away from their prior focus on Dr. Seuss as their main theme to "Celebrating a Nation of Diverse Readers." While Read Across America is a year-long program, it is highlighted during Read Across America Week, which is celebrated the first week of March.

Why We Need Diverse Books: A Child's Perspective