Whose Story Are You Really Reading?

My colleague Margo and I are starting a new book club this fall—Young Fiction Book Club, where we'll be introducing young readers to diverse books by diverse authors. The task of finding such books is trickier than you might think. Readers see books that feature diverse characters and think we’re reading diversely. But the truth is, we’re not.  You see, some favorite “diverse” series are actually written by white authors.  Children’s literature is filled with white-authored books whose misleading covers feature characters of color. 

If you're reading this, you might already be actively seeking diverse books for your kids, which is great!  Now I want to challenge you to pay attention to who's writing those books.  Below I’ve highlighted a few books across reading levels that look diverse but are actually white-authored. I've also included #OwnVoices alternatives written by Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC).  #OwnVoices books are written by authors who share marginalized identities with the characters they write about.  #OwnVoices books allow authors to tell stories about their own communities, and we can learn about our world best by reading such books.  Add them to your shelves to diversify your reading!


Instead of this...

Anansi the Spider - written and illustrated by a white man

Try these:

The Ox of the Wonderful Horns, and Other African Folktales

The Pot of Wisdom



Instead of this...

Mo Jackson series - written and illustrated by white men

Try these:

A Team Stays Together!

THE QUEST FOR SCREEN TIME: EPISODE 1



Instead of this...

Katie Woo series - written by a white woman

Try these:

Rock Star

Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen



Instead of this...

King & Kayla series - written and illustrated by white women

Try these:

Juana & Lucas

Lost in the Tunnel of Time



Instead of this...

EllRay Jakes series - written by a white woman; illustrated by a white man

Try these:

Sadiq and the Fun Run

Alvin Ho



*Note: The text of this post was edited for clarity on 08/21/2020.

-Mary is a Youth Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.

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