Posts Tagged Diversity in Children’s Books 2018

#JewishandProud –Kidlit Fights Bias


KIdlit always fights bias, and today is definitely a day to stand up. Today is #JewishandProud day.  This is a time when members of the Jewish community are encouraged to publicly display Jewish identity and faith in the face of ongoing and escalating anti-Semitic violence in this country and around the world. A recent survey conducted by the American Jewish Committee found that 31% of respondents reported feeling uncomfortable wearing or displaying anything would identify them as Jewish. That’s 31% too many people who are afraid to show pride in or belonging to or respect for the tenets of their faith because of a world that isn’t fighting back hard enough to stamp out hate.

jewish and proud day january 6

Kidlit fights bias — and we here at MUF are committed to inclusiveness and diversity. We stand with our Jewish family. Furthermore, in order to support and be an ally of the Jewish community, I’m dedicating my post to a wonderful anti-bias children’s book list maintained by the Anti-Defamation League.

What is the ADL?

I think most are aware of the ADL, but for those who haven’t had the chance to become acquainted with them, they’re an advocacy and education organization dedicated to creating a country where discrimination is a thing of the past. Their mission statement envisions stopping “…the defamation of the Jewish people, and (securing) … justice and fair treatment to all.” To be clear: their scope is all-inclusive—they lobby for anti-bias and anti-discrimination laws for ALL underrepresented groups, run education programs in schools to help fight hate speech and bullying, and work in all aspects of criminal justice reform, from sentencing procedures to law enforcement training.

As part of their work in education, they provide extensive programs and training for educators, parents, and families: this is where the booklist comes in.

Books Matter

“Books Matter” is an incredible book list and resource for fighting bias and hate. It’s carefully curated by subject, pulling together the best kid lit on diversity and social justice. You have a choice of 11 sections for book suggestions, with subjects such as Jewish culture and anti-Semitism, and also bias, discrimination, and hate.

ADL Assistant Education Director Michelle Magner notes that “Educators and families can use books with their students and children as a mirror to affirm who they are and enable them to see themselves portrayed with accuracy, depth, and complexity.  Books can also be used as a window to teach children about people with whom they are unfamiliar which can lead to understanding and building bridges.  Both mirror and window books can build empathy which is such an important tool in combating intolerance. ”

Each section includes options from picture books to young adult, and each book suggests an appropriate reader age range.

books matter reading list

Among the many drill-down features includes a “book of the month” section; this month it’s Jacquelyn Woodson’s HARBOR ME.

Each book of the month selection is accompanied by coordinated lesson plans for classrooms as well as suggested tools and strategies for difficult conversations.

The ADL is committed to the belief that books are a critical component in the effort to create a more tolerant, just world. Having a list like this and resources available to help us all in that mission gives us better, stronger tools, and also a sense that we’re not alone.

KidLit Community Can Help

What I love about lists like this is that they’re always growing. And we can be part of that! For those of you MUFers who are also authors … keep writing, keep adding to that body of literature! For inspiration, read here for  Jonathan Rosen’s recap of the TENT program for Jewish children’s literature, And … here’s an interview with author Leslie Kimmelman, who also went to Israel. Waiting eagerly to see what comes of her inspiration from that trip!

But even if you can’t travel, you can support authors by reading their work and supporting it publicly. You can be part of conversations that push back against hate and bias. You can refuse to accept a biased, intolerant world, and instead model a society that includes, accepts, and celebrates all religions, ethnicities, races, genders, and sexual identities.


Spread the Word!

There’s an old adage in two of my favorite endeavors, science & baseball, that states, “The numbers don’t lie.” 

Data is collected, analyzed, and then used to draw conclusions that can be accepted or challenged. For example, if the baseball data shows 85% of the times I strike out it’s on low, inside curveballs, then I better learn to make contact on low, inside curveballs or my baseball-playing days will soon involve a whole lot of time riding the pine. 

The numbers don’t lie.

Of course, I can always ignore or skew the numbers to deflect the spotlight from the true conclusions. Sure, I might strike out on low, inside curveballs 85% of the time BUT 15% of the time I’m sure I strike out on TERRIBLE CALLS BY THE UMPIRE!!! The numbers are the same. The numbers themselves don’t lie. I just twisted them.

Last month, Sarah Park Dahlen, Associate Professor, MLIS Program at St. Catherine University, and illustrator David Huyck released the second version of their Diversity in Children’s Books infographic of children’s publishing data, the 2018 version. Their 2015 version was a game-changer in the diverse books movement. 

As far as what happened in children’s literature during 2018, the numbers don’t lie. Please take a few moments to study the infographic with an analytical eye to these important numbers.

Huyck, David and Sarah Park Dahlen. (2019 June 19). Diversity in Children’s Books 2018. blog. Created in consultation with Edith Campbell, Molly Beth Griffin, K. T. Horning, Debbie Reese, Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, and Madeline Tyner, with statistics compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison: Retrieved from

It is also said that a picture is worth a thousand words. If that’s true, then the Diversity in Children’s Books 2015 and 2018 infographics are worth millions and millions of words. The millions and millions of words of untold and underrepresented stories. As much as the infographic shows what’s there in children’s publishing, the weight of what’s missing permeates the image. 

Huyck, David, Sarah Park Dahlen, Molly Beth Griffin. (2016 September 14). Diversity in Children’s Books 2015 infographic. blog. Retrieved from Statistics compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison: Released for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 license

Compare 2015 to 2018

2015 2018
White 73.3% 50%
Animals/Other 12.5% 27%
African/African American 7.6% 10%
Asian Pacific Islander/Asian Pacific American 3.3% 7%
Latinx 2.4% 5%
American Indians/First Nations 0.9% 1%

Small steps in the right direction? Perhaps (with emphasis on “small”). 

Are these small steps good enough? No. 

Meaningful change would have shown the 2018 books not being published in the “White” (-23.3%) category split into any or all of the other categories listed beside the “Animal/Other” (+14.5%) category. It doesn’t. To my thinking, the 2018 data represent manuscripts likely submitted after the 2015 infographic was published. A period of acquisitions far after the beginnings of the We Need Diverse Books Movement. There should have been a greater general awareness of acquiring diverse titles in this time period leading up to the 2018 publication window.

We can do better. 

But how? We don’t publish books. Most of us aren’t in the acquisition process or in any position to make these direct decisions. What we can do, especially as readers, writers, librarians, and scholars, is this:

Be a fan. 

Read, purchase, gift, discuss, and celebrate quality and representative diverse books. Ask your library and/or bookseller to order specific diverse titles you enjoy or want to enjoy. Find a way to put quality diverse kids’ books into the hands and minds of kid readers. Spread the word of your fandom with others and help diverse books find their landing space. Cultivate your own literary table where all are not only welcome but can share in the meal as well.

Here’s another way to spread the word. Infographic cards! Thanks to the fine folks at Teaching for Change for making these cards available so it will be easier to share the Diversity in Children’s Books 2018 infographic to classrooms, libraries, conferences, workshops, and anywhere children’s literature is consumed, discussed, or produced with. Below is the link to request cards from Teaching for Change.

Diversity in Children’s Books Graphic Distribution

Also, if you wish to help defray the costs of printing The Diversity in Children’s Books 2018 infographic cards, there’s the opportunity to help them out through a donation.

Personally, I plan to dig deeper into the numbers as I study the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s data for 2018 and pay attention to the conversation taking place discussing the data behind the 2018 infographic. I encourage and challenge you to join me in this endeavor. My goal is to understand the numbers to a higher degree in hopes to be a better global citizen, especially in one of my favorite neighborhoods on the planet, the kid lit community. 

Thank you for considering your support of these important and worthy causes aimed to make our world a better place, one book at a time. 

Reading is a superpower! 

The numbers don’t lie…