If you were to organize your books by geography, race, religion, and gender, what would your shelves look like? Have you ever intentionally bought books to teach the children about a specific topic in the news or media? How do you build a culturally responsive and multicultural library?
No matter what your budget is, there are some phenomenal resources for adding diversity to your libraries. The resources below for building a multicultural library are experts. From book publishers, to businesses and blogs, their mission is the same. Their goal is making diverse and quality literature easy and accessible for every one of us to find books that represent our unique family and/or classroom dynamics.
The Ultimate Guide to a Multicultural Library
One of my favorite small talk topics of conversation is discussing books. I ask for book recommendations or I talk about something new I am reading. It is a safe and pleasant topic of conversation to fill the awkward silence with something meaningful. I love hearing why people love certain books, authors, and illustrators.
I also loving hearing about what their intention is behind the book. To me, the “why” behind choosing a book is extremely important. Which is why today, I want to give you the ultimate guide to a multicultural library. By giving you the best resources for finding diverse books for the entire family, you can create a truly comprehensive home or classroom library.
The true meeting takes place when the book opens, and a stranger reads about — and comprehends — a stranger.
We Need Diverse Books
On the We Need Diverse Books site, they have a compiled a list of multicultural and multiracial books that you can search for by topic on an app. Our Story is a tool for kids, parents, educators, and librarians to discover diverse books.
You take a quiz and the algorithm helps you find the perfect book. There are free and paid membership levels. The paid membership levels include access to exclusive content from authors and illustrators. There are also options for accessing materials; this way parents, educators, and librarians can incorporate the chosen books into their curriculum and programs. A comprehensive resource for building a multicultural library.
Lee and Low Books
Lee and Low Books is my favorite resource for multicultural books that promote diversity and empathy. They have many resources and guides on how to choose books with intention and eliminating the guesswork with quality and diverse literature.
They also have a checklist to follow-up your newly decorated reader friendly home to ensure your library is culturally responsive. (The PDF is geared towards classrooms but can be applied to home libraries.)
Reading diverse books and diverse authors is the first step to supporting the movement—the second step is telling everyone you know to do the same thing.- Alaina Leary
Book Trust is based in the UK and has transformed lives with their focus on family literacy. Their Book Finder resource gives you a search engine to find selections based on age, topic, author, interest, etc. for building an amazing multicultural library.
This site shares articles, resources, and even hosts reading competitions. One of the recent interviews with Anna McQuinn struck a chord with me as a lover of books that show representation matters. This famous author has written dozens of books and she discusses why she is so passionate about having a book where every child feels like they are the star of the story.
For example, in her book Zeki Can Swim, she highlights a character with a foreshortened arm into her new book seamlessly rather than focusing on the disability. This book also highlights dads as competent parents, rather than just “helping”. More books are definitely needed in this day and age showing that dads are not babysitters.
Book Riot writer Kate Scott has created eight diverse book subscription boxes–for adults, teens, and kids. You can choose the best subscription box to meet your needs and reflect your unique culture, ethnic background, or life experience.
Each book subscription box is a monthly or quarterly box that contains one or more books, along with themed book-ish items. These boxes are curated by authors, librarians, and readers just like you.
Check out this incredible guide on how to find the perfect book subscription box.
Diverse Book Clubs
Global Read Aloud: This is a free, once-a-year project in which classrooms (or homeschooling families) around the globe read the same book during a set 6-week period and make global connections through Skype, Twitter chat, etc.
You can even send a post card; because everyone loves vintage snail mail! In my classroom, I have my students connect with pen pals from across the globe. I recently started the tradition with my oldest daughter now that she can write connect through books. You get to choose the book(s) you want to read with your children/students from this wonderful list.
This year, Australian author Mem Fox is the focus of this year’s picture book study for the youngest readers. If you have been following me for a while, you may know she is one of my ultimate favorite literacy authors when it comes to reading and education. Her books that will be included are Koala Lou, Possum Magic, and more.
The other books to choose from are Fenway and Hattie by Victoria Coe (early readers); The Wild Robot by Peter Brown (upper elementary/middle grades); A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park (middle school); and A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (young adult).
I like to refer to Goodreads as social media for bookworms/bibliophiles/book fanatics. Here you can connect with your favorite authors, join book clubs and groups dedicated to reading multicultural and diverse books. Similar to Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews; here is a way to be more select books intentionally. Our reading time is precious and Goodreads makes it so easy to find the perfect book.
Insider Tip: Connect with authors on Goodreads that will be at your local book festival. This is a fabulous way to connect, as well as stand out of the crowd. If you are a book blogger/ author/ book enthusiast, this is crucial.
Scholastic put together a panel of five children’s literature specialists to give their candid advice on selecting diverse books. This included books about, or related to Native Americans, Latinos, African Americans, Jews, and Asian Americans. They discussed how to select books without bias or stereotypes, moreover, how to spot a high quality book to use for teaching reading strategies.
The article includes:
- Reviews of ten great children’s books suitable for grades K–8
- Essential advice from a children’s author or illustrator: Joseph Bruchac, Gary Soto, Floyd Cooper, Patricia Polacco, Yumi Heo
- Key criteria to use when selecting books
- A list of notable authors
- an extensive list of other multicultural resources for teachers and their classrooms
Here on my website, my ultimate goal is to teach kids HOW to read, but also highlighting WHAT to read. I am dedicated to finding the best resources out there to teach literacy skills. This can be done through not only the classics, but through diverse books about cultures, languages, and ethnicities from around the world.
My focus is on guiding people to books that foster community through education. I believe the research is true that children especially need explicit books and resources to develop a globally minded perspective led by empathy. On my website, there are tools for teaching reading, learning multiple languages, as well as traveling to give kids the total reading package with culturally rich experiences.
You are invited to join my Facebook group dedicated to raising diverse readers. Our group is an open forum for teaching literacy skills through diverse and multicultural library books. Join HERE today!
Additionally, I am offering you a FREE eBook just for you that is filled with strategies for reading aloud with children 0-5. The Importance of Reading Aloud ebook is the perfect guide to creating a multicultural library, as well as teaching literacy skills starting from birth. To join our amazing tribe and get your free eBook today, subscribe below.
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