Category Archives: Team Blog

Looking for Diverse Books?

Are you looking for a good book for the kid(s) in your life, but don’t know where to begin? This is a common problem, as there are thousands of children’s books published every year in the United States. Many librarians and educators rely on the American Library Association (ALA) and the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) for help with their purchasing decisions. Booklists and Award winners are just some of the resources available. 

Our project has shown that the two most popular book awards, the Newbery and Caldecott, are historically [white]. While recent years have shown an increase in diversity, there are many other awards and book lists specifically dedicated to highlighting diversity in children’s and young adult literature. So we have compiled a short list of resources that can assist with finding a book that speaks to you. This list is by no means complete, merely an introduction to an array of resources for finding diverse books for the kid(s) in your life.

Africana Book Award Annually recognizes authors and illustrators of children’s and young adult books related to Africa that are published in the United States.

ALSC’s Tough Topics Booklist 2019 Yearly booklists that cover sensitive topics like the death of a loved one, divorce, and bullying. Resources for adults are also included.

Amelia Bloomer Booklist Annual list of books with significant feminist content for readers ages 0-18 years old. 

American Indian Youth Literature Awards Books by and about American Indians and Indigenouse peoples of North America. Three categories: picture books, middle school books, and young adult books.

Americas Awards Books published in the U.S. that portray Latinos in the United States, Latin America or the Caribbean. 

Arab American Book Awards Annual award that honors books written by and Arab Americans in five categories: Adult Non-Fiction Academic, Adult Non-Fiction Creative, Adult Fiction, Poetry, Children/Young Adult Fiction or Non-Fiction.

Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Books about Asian and Pacific American people and their heritage. Five categories: picture book, children, young adult, adult non-fiction, and adult fiction.

Coretta Scott King Honors African American authors and illustrators that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and experience. Categories: children and young adult literature

Diverse Book Finder Collection of children’s picture books featuring Black and Indigenous people and People of Color (BIPOC). Only includes trade picture books published since 2002

Lambda Literary Awards Books by and about the LGBTQ community. Many categories with a range of genres highlighting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer lives.

Middle East Book Awards Honors children’s and young adult books that contribute to the understanding of the Middle East. Categories include picture books, youth literature and youth non-fiction. 

National Jewish Book Awards Beginning in 1950, this honor is awarded to authors of english language books of Jewish interest. The award categories include Anthologies and Collections, Children’s Literature, Visual Arts and Young Adult Literature.

Pura Belpre Awards Honors Latino or Latina writers or illustrators whose works celebrate the Latino cultural experience in children and youth literature.

Rainbow Book List A list of books, for people from 0-18 years of age, that contain GLBTQ content. This list is created by the Rainbow Book List Committee, part of the Rainbow Round Table of the ALA.

Schneider Family Book Awards Administered by the ALA, this award honors authors or illustrators whose books highlight the disability experience for children and young adults.

Stonewall Book Awards Honors works that relate to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience. Three categories: children’s and young adult, adult non-fiction, and adult literature.

Sydney Taylor Book Awards Honors children’s and young adult books that portray the Jewish experience. The award is given annually in three categories: Picture Books, Middle Grade and Young Adult.

Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award Created by Texas State University College of Education, the award honors authors and illustrators whose works depicts the Mexian American experience. Two categories: younger children (pre-K-5th grade) and older children (6th grade-12th grade).

Walter Dean Myers Award (We Need Diverse Books) Named for award winning author Walter Dean Myers, the award honors books written by diverse authors and feature diverse main characters and address diversity. Two categories: younger readers (ages 9-13) and teens (ages 13-18).

Some of these resources are through the ALA or their affiliates. Each award’s website should announce their relationship with the ALA. For a full list provided by the ALA, please visit:

COVID-19: Research Methods for Unexpected Circumstances

Kelly Hammond

COVID has affected our research in a slew of ways. Group members have had to direct their attention to pressing needs—from securing supplies for our families to battling the illness itself. We originally planned to let the online data collection take us as far as it could and then to scour library shelves for the remaining unknowns. Those shelves are now beyond our reach.

The research we are doing demands resourcefulness in the best of circumstances. The authors of children’s books, even award-winners, have not always been the topic of great celebrity like they are today. Having long exhausted the most revealing sources, author bios and Wikipedia pages, we have combed obituaries, copyright records, images from used book stores, digital archives, and marriage records.

The shut down has kept us from accessing the more obscure texts in search of clues. It has also kept us from reaching experts with access to those texts or author photographs or personal papers. Prior to the pandemic, I might have emailed archivists to ask questions unanswerable without visiting a distant library (which I was able to do when investigating Charlotte Perkins Gilman last year). But these archivists are barred from their own collections as well. For example, the University of Minnesota houses the Barbara Cooney Papers, which include correspondence that may provide clues to her collaborator, Edna Mitchell Preston, about whom little we can find.

Emily Maanum

Taking on this digital humanities project, our team knew we would be dealing with a variety of technologies and tools throughout the semester, but no one imagined that remote technology would be the only way to complete it. Our team went from all living in the same city and physically meeting once a week to being spread across the country. We are in different time zones, communicating over Skype, zoom and email. We had to adjust to communicating through a computer screen; hashing out project details is easier when we were all together physically. 

Our project focuses on the winners and honorees of both the Newbery and Caldecott book awards. We planned on collecting information about the authors, illustrators, and protagonists of these books through a variety of methods, but with libraries and book stores closed, our search went online. I used mostly Wikipedia to find the information relating to the Newbery. This process went pretty smoothly, and I would make sure to cross-check the info with another site to confirm it. 

Collecting the Caldecott protagonist information was much more time-consuming. I mostly used the Wikipedia page of the book in question. If I couldn’t find the info there, I would look at YouTube videos of people doing read alongs. These helped me determine the gender, race, and ethnicity of many protagonists. The videos could be 4 mins or more, and some had poor video quality so it was hard to see the illustrations. Sometimes I changed the playback function to go 2x faster so I could get through the videos more quickly. This is exceedingly more time-consuming compared to the author/illustrator data collection, which maybe took up to two minutes per entry because Wikipedia had most of that info available.

Though this part of the data collection takes more time, it has been fun to read the Caldecott books; I haven’t read any children’s books for a while. It’s also been super nostalgic to read a few books that I remember enjoying as a child like Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type and Joseph Had a Little Overcoat.

Georgette Keane

Working on the Caldecott authors, illustrators, and protagonists has been tough due to our current situation. Internet searches and MARC records from the Library of Congress have been helpful, but it is not equal to holding a book in your hands and looking at the illustrations and book flaps. There were a lot of early authors, from the 1960’s and 1970’s especially, whose web presence was just their name. So I had to get creative to find out more about them.

I started looking for articles that analyzed the Caldecotts, and I came across a 2018 Journal of Children’s Literature article by Koss, Johnson, and Martinez ‘Mapping the diversity in Caldecott books from 1938-2017: The changing topography.’  The article was very helpful, but I needed to see all of the data for the two decades we were really stuck on. I decided to reach out to the three authors to ask if they would share their data. I explained our project and what we are facing here in New York City, and Dr. Martinez was kind enough to send an Excel spreadsheet with a full breakdown of the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Analyzing the protagonists has been a little more difficult, but I found an interesting solution. Many Caldecotts are featured on read-alongs on YouTube. Parents, librarians, and the general public are reading these books to their audience, and they have become invaluable to us. Most are good quality, where you just see the pages and the reader is not on the screen. These videos, along with LibraryThing and other sites, are giving us enough information to make an educated guess about the protagonist. I am grateful to Drs. Koss, Johnson, and Martinez, as well as all of the readers on YouTube who have unknowingly helped us with our project.