Diverse Books for All Coalition

Twenty-seven nonprofits and membership organizations from across the U.S. are joining forces to tackle a common challenge that has impeded children’s literacy for decades: the lack of high-quality, affordable children’s books by and about diverse races and cultures. Among its strategies, the Diverse Books for All Coalition, which includes many of the nation’s largest nonprofits that distribute books to children, will leverage the power of aggregate buying to influence the availability and pricing of diverse children’s books. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has awarded First Book, the nonprofit social enterprise that organized the coalition, with a $1 million, 18-month grant to support the initiative.

Supporting Educational and Racial Equity

According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, out of 3,183 children’s books published in the U.S. in 2021:

  • 436 were about Blacks/African Americans
  • 337 were about Asians
  • 234 were about Latinos
  • 62 were about Indigenous people
  • 21 were about those of Arab descent
  • 6 were about Pacific Islanders.

Books written by authors from diverse races and cultures were similarly under-represented: out of the 3,183 children’s books published in the U.S.:

  • 307 were written by Black/African American authors
  • 463 were by Asian authors
  • 311 were written by Latinos
  • 47 were written by Indigenous authors
  • 21 were written by those of Arab descent
  • 8 were written by Pacific Islanders
diverse book

By the Numbers

Despite the importance of reading, nationally, only 36.9% of babies are read to daily. 

A father reads to his child.

According to the State of Babies Yearbook 2022, nationally, the percentage of white parents (45.2 percent) who reported reading to their baby daily was above the national average of 36.9 percent. The percentages of Asian (35 percent), Black (24 percent), and Hispanic (23 percent) parents who reported reading to their baby daily were lower than the national average. Parents in households with low income were significantly less likely to read to their infants/ toddlers every day (26.9 percent) than those in households above low income (43.7 percent). 

The 2022 findings show the longstanding disparities in good health, strong families, and positive early learning experiences, drain our nation’s future potential and leave families to fend for themselves. Significant historic and current structural inequities exist in the opportunities available to babies of color to thrive, as well as those in families with low-income, and in urban or rural areas.

Recommended Children's Books

 Through diverse stories, children learn about bias and resilience. Use books as a jumping off point for what will be a lifetime of conversations about who your child is—and who you are as a family.  Offering a diverse outlook on the world through stories gives children of color the chance to see themselves in books—and for all children, is a powerful way of challenging racial stereotypes from the start. Use the Diverse Book Finder to discover new gems.

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Once I was Very Very Scared was written by Dr. Chandra Ghosh Ippen to help children and grown-ups (parents, teachers, and other important adults) understand how stress can affect children and ways to help them.

Happy in Our Skin

A celebration of skin, written in rhyme! “This is how we all begin, small and happy in our skin.” Fran Manushkin’s rollicking text and Lauren Tobia’s colorful illustrations paint a breezy and irresistible picture of the human family — and how wonderful it is to be just who you are.

A little boy “mermaid” finds his tribe at the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island. Julian is a Mermaid is a jubilant picture of self-love and a radiant celebration of individuality. Children can begin to understand that there are many ways to express themselves.

In this version of the classic Stone Soup tale, a Taiwanese American child brings his diverse neighbors together to make a tasty communal meal. Together, they cook up a steaming family dinner that celebrates community, cooperation, and culture. 

A little boy gathers berries with his grandmother and meets ant, spider and fox as they do. This story is set in a beautiful woodland landscape, the ancestral home of author and illustrator Julie Flett. (This book is also available in two dialects of Cree.)

In this imaginative, evocative story, a girl named Keyana discovers the beauty and magic of her special hair, encouraging black children to be proud of their heritage and enhancing self-confidence. I Love My Hair! has been a staple in African-American picture books for 20 years

Literacy Begins Before Birth

Early language and literacy (reading and writing) development begins in the first 3 years of life and is closely linked to a child’s earliest experiences with books and stories. Sharing stories is a great way to help children learn more about themselves and the world around them. Books that feature a wide variety of characters and experiences are a powerful way for all families to challenge stereotypes from the start.  Seeing characters that look like them and represent their own experiences tells children that their lives are worthy of being thought about, discussed and celebrated. The following resources discuss early literacy and the importance of representation. 

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Founding members of the Diverse Books for All Coalition:

  • First Book
  • American Academy of Pediatrics-CA3
  • Book Harvest
  • Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
  • Heart of America
  • Home Grown
  • Jumpstart
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children
  • National Black Child Development Institute
  • ParentChild+
  • Parents as Teachers Raising a Reader
  • Reach Out and Read Inc.
  • Reach Out and Read Greater New York
  • Reach Out and Read Rhode Island
  • Read On Arizona
  • Reading Is Fundamental
  • Room to Read
  • Save the Children
  • Start Early
  • The American Federation of Teachers
  • The Leaders Readers Network
  • The Patterson Foundation
  • Too Small to Fail
  • UnidosUS
  • We Need Diverse Books
  • ZERO TO THREE