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Children’s Books as Bridges

Right now, so many of us are seeking to connect the children in our lives with bridges, empathy, and empowerment in the face of separation, misunderstanding, and fear. While the values we impart are rooted in our adult-child relationships, we also pave the way to a wider world-view beyond day-to-day experience.

four feetBooks are one portal to understanding and simply looking from another person’s perspective, as Atticus Finch nudged Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Below is a collection of reading lists compiled from organizations passionate about the power of books to raise collective consciousness through stories celebrating diversity and illuminating common human experience. Some of the titles can be purchased from the linked sites directly, and many titles are available through the Rhode Island libraries. Additionally, Providence Children’s Museum’s Coming to Rhode Island exhibit features books and activities that “investigate culture and diversity and encourage empathy” in the Story Center.

  • inmothouse-1We Need Diverse Books – A grassroots organization with a mission to put “more books featuring diverse characters into the hands of all children” shares an extensive list of where to find diverse books. Lists are organized by children’s/YA literature award winners and by themes including African/African American, American Indian, Disabilities, Islam, LGBTQIA, Latino and Multicultural.
  • Muslim Kids as Heroes – Part of KitaabWorld’s series of book lists “Counter Islamaphobia through stories,” this list highlights stories of children whose “Muslim identity merely serves as a backdrop to more pressing issues of fighting with siblings, making it to the baseball team and carving their own little niche to fit in.”  KitaabWorld is an independent online bookstore “focused on the discovery and distribution of South Asian children’s books, toys and games.”
  •  Standing Together: 50 Mighty Girl Books Celebrating Diversity and Acceptance among many great lists – A Mighty Girl is a resource site of books, toys, movies and music for raising and empowering “smart, confident, and courageous girls.”red-pencil
  • 35 Picture Books for Young Activists and 20 Stories of Immigrants and Refugees – Two of many terrific book lists from All The Wonders, a collective of writers, podcasters, filmmakers and visual artists who create “a home for readers to discover new books and to experience the stories they love in wondrous ways.”
  • Reading While White – Allies for Diversity & Inclusion in Books for Children & Teens – Articles, websites, and books for adult readers including those that address confronting race in children’s and young adult literature. “We are learning, and hold ourselves responsible for understanding how our whiteness impacts our perspectives and our behavior.”

Special thanks to Romy Natalia Goldberg for pointing the way to suggestions for this list. Natalia is a travel writer (www.discoveringparaguay.com) and parent who is shifting to writing and advocating for multicultural children’s literature.

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