Tag Archives: ALA

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: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/childrens-book-awards-other-organizations

The Inner Worlds of Children’s Literature

With more parents staying at home as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, shared reading time is more important than ever. Although children do really love consuming the same piece of media over and over (my speciality was a once-a-day viewing of 101 Dalmatians), parents might find their kids running through more repetitions and tiring things out quicker. Variety is the key to keeping everyone sane! 

It’s probably not surprising that within children’s literature, however, there isn’t much variety when it comes to the ethnic and racial background of authors and characters. In the early stages of our research, we have discovered that diversity and authorship interact in surprising ways. While nearly 70% of Newbery Medal and Honor authors have been female, only about a third of the protagonists of those books are. We’ve also learned that fewer than 10% of those authors were people of color, and, perhaps most surprising still, just over a quarter of protagonists are. Stayed tuned for more analysis of our findings! 

It’s important that, when isolated, we people our inner worlds with an array of backgrounds and voices. We want to see ourselves, but we want to see others too. So, consider an array of authors, from Jacqueline Woodson to Matt de la Peña, and a host of characters, from Wonder’s Auggie Pullman to Meg Medina’s Merci Suarez. Make sure your children see themselves in the books they read and that they see a range of others. 

Book awards, like the Newberys, can bring good literature to our attention, but we need to sample from them widely. Here’s a good list from the ALA that includes well-known awards like the low-diversity Newbery and slightly more diverse Caldecotts, but links to other types of awards such as the Pura Belpré Medal which “honors a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose works best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth” or the Schneider Family Book Award that recognizes “books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience.”

We are looking forward to discovering other surprising trends in our data and discussing its implications with our community of educators, librarians, parents, and others. Check back for updates and make sure to follow our social media accounts. Until then… happy reading!