Diverse Books Matter

People, Identity & Culture
Race & Racism
Preschoolers - Mayor's Book Club

Airman 1st Class Kaylee Dubois, photographer

Grade Level:
Elementary School
Common Core Standards:
Reading, Speaking and Listening, Language
People, Identity & Culture
Race & Racism

#WeNeedDiverseBooks: Shining a Light on the Lack of Diversity

In recent years, there has been a lot of attention given to the diversity of children’s books, shining a light on the lack of diversity and amplifying the need for more children’s and young adult literature that reflect our multicultural society. In 2014, an organization named We Need Diverse Books formed, following a regularly trending hashtag with the same name (#WeNeedDiverseBooks) that helped bring attention to the issue. We Need Diverse Books advocates for changes in the publishing industry “to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.” In 2015, an African-American 11-year-old girl named Marley Dias brought further awareness of the issue by launching the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign, highlighting the lack of kids’ books with African-American characters. The Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) compiles annual data about the diversity of children’s literature and their statistics indicate improvements in recent years but we still have work to do.

Studies Reveal Children's Books Mostly Written by White Authors

CCBC's annual data collection reveals that in 2018 only 28% of children's literature are by and about people of color. The Coalition for Educational Justice released a report that shows 80% of books in New York City schools' curriculum are written by white authors.

How Racially Diverse Schools and Classrooms Can Benefit All Students, a report by The Century Foundation, "argues that, as our K–12 student population becomes more racially and ethnically diverse, the time is right for our political leaders to pay more attention to the evidence, intuition, and common sense that supports the importance of racially and ethnically diverse educational settings to prepare the next generation."

About the Lesson Plan

This lesson provides an opportunity for students to learn more about the importance of diverse literature, reflect on Marley Dias’ campaign, understand data and research about diversity in children’s literature and engage in a study on the diversity of books in their classroom or school library. The lesson can also be used as a way to kick off an independent reading/Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) challenge in class or school.

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will explore the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign by Marley Dias.
  • Students will understand the importance of “mirror” and “window” books.
  • Students will analyze books in their classroom/school libraries in order to determine the diversity of the collection.
  • Students will identify and reflect on why we need diverse books.

More from this Section