Blogger Public Awareness Committee

10 Recent & Upcoming Picture Books Featuring Everyday Diversity

I first heard the term “everyday diversity” from Anna Haase Krueger. Everyday diversity books feature diverse characters doing everyday activities and in everyday situations. My favorite example to give people unfamiliar with the term is The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. The focus of the story is that Peter is enjoying the newly fallen snow and not that Peter is African-American.

[There are many more titles that are worthy of inclusion on a recent publications list and I’ve left several other booklists at the bottom of this post for further reading. This is by no means a comprehensive list — I know that there are titles and resources missing. A few of the books on this list feature large diverse casts without a main diverse character.]

15 Things Not to Do With a Baby by Margaret McAllister
An older sister welcomes a new sibling by learning all the things not to do with a baby — lose it in the garden, snuggle with an octopus — and all the things you can do with a baby. This story is perfect to share one-on-one with children expecting new siblings, but would also work in a preschool storytime setting. Expect lots of laughter.

Fire Engine No. 9 by Mike Austin
This book is absolutely perfect for toddler storytimes, full of sound effects to make and colorful illustrations. Firefighters are varied in skin tones (although I don’t remember any female firefighters) and the book is engaging for all involved. Bonus points for a vertical spread down the firepole.

[Photo courtesy of the author, taken at ALA Annual.]
[Photo courtesy of the author, taken at ALA Annual.]
It’s Tough to Lose Your Balloon by Jarrett Krosoczka
A picture book version of the saying “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade”. A reassuring title featuring lots of diversity and everyday kid stresses. Also, make sure to watch the adorable YouTube trailer where kids narrate Krsoczka’s pages: YouTube.

Juna’s Jar by Jane Bahk
After Juna’s best friend Hector moves away without saying goodbye, she turns to the kimchi jars that they used to collect treasures in to find comfort. What she finds is more adventures and maybe even a chance to come to terms with Hector’s disappearance.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña
CJ and his nana travel through their neighborhood every Sunday. CJ questions why they always have to take the bus and why he doesn’t have the latest gadget and Nana thoughtfully answers his questions. A great trip through an urban environment with a variety of colors, sizes, shapes, and status.

[Photo courtesy of the author, taken at ALA Midwinter.]
[Photo courtesy of the author, taken at ALA Midwinter.]
Music Class Today! by David Weinstein
One little boy is hesitant to join his more rambunctious classmates at music class. Lots of different skin tones are present in this fabulous book which will feel familiar for storytime librarians. An excellent read-aloud for large groups and one of my favorites of this year.

One Family by George Shannon
So much diversity is packed into this simple counting text. A great read for a storytime setting but also wonderful for one-on-one sharing to allow children to appreciate the details in each page spread. The last lines of the book are resonate and will (hopefully) remind children that we are all one family.

[Photo courtesy of the author, taken at ALA Annual.]
[Photo courtesy of the author, taken at ALA Annual.]
Say Hello! by Linda Davick
My new favorite toddler storytime book. Lots of children with a variety of skin and hair colors show how they say hello to each other in a rhyming text. The big vibrant colors and basic illustrations make this book ideal for sharing with a large group.

The Smallest Girl In the Smallest Grade by Justin Roberts
Best suited for an older crowd or a classroom read, this title is great because it includes a diverse classroom setting and also talks about size diversity. As a short person (5’2″), I’m always happy to see my height reflected in novels and stories. I know from experience that short kids feel the same way! Noteworthy: This book is written by children’s music superstar Justin Roberts.

Stella Brings the Family by Miriam A. Schiffer
This is the book that slightly toes the everyday diversity line, but it’s so wonderful that I had to include it. Stella has two dads and isn’t sure who to bring for her class’s Mother’s Day celebration. She finds a unique solution to the problem after talking with her classmates about what kinds of things moms do. The last few pages reflect a variety of family situations perfect for making kids of all families feel accepted.

[Book covers from SWAN Libraries catalog, an Illinois library consortium.]
[Book covers from SWAN Libraries catalog, an Illinois library consortium.]

(Ten bonus older favorites: The Babies on the Bus by Karen Katz, Counting Ovejas by Sarah Weeks, Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler, I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison, Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn, Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown, My Nose Your Nose by Melanie Walsh, Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora, Round is a Mooncake by Roseanne Thong, Say Hello! by Rachel Isadora)

Additional Booklists:
Best Picture Books of 2014 That Celebrate Diversity, Kirkus Reviews.
Culturally Diverse Books Selected by SLJ’s Review Editors.
A Diverse Book List for the Under-Five Set by Lisa G. Knopp, published by School Library Journal.
Picture Books About Diversity and Acceptance, Storytime Standouts.
Multicultural Books, What We Do All Day.

ALA Awards:
Coretta Scott King Book Awards
Pura Belpre Award
Schneider Family Book Award
Stonewall Book Award

ALA’s Día (Diversity In Action)
School Library Journal’s Resources for Diversity
Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Diversity Resources
We Need Diverse Books & School Library Journal Booktalking Kit
We Need Diverse Books & We Need Diverse Books Guide to Where to Find Diverse Books

So, which books or resources did I miss? Tell me in the comments!

Katie Salo is an Early Literacy Librarian at Indian Prairie Public Library in Darien, IL and is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee. You can reach her at simplykatie(at)gmail(dot)com or at Storytime Katie.

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