A friend of mine turned new mom had an interesting request the other day. She’d been talking with her friends and they decided that what they’d really like would be a list of children’s books in which diversity is just a part of everyday life. To illustrate her point she called this “casual diversity”, a term I’d hitherto been unfamiliar with. The phrase is typically used to describe pop culture but I think it applies well enough to children’s books. It’s something we strive to find in a lot of our books for kids, but actively seeking it out isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Since this particular group of moms was looking for younger titles I had to wrack my brain to come up with ideas. It should NOT be this hard. I worked up a short list but I’d love it if other folks could offer up suggestions of their own. We’re just looking for books where diversity is integrated into the storyline without a hitch. Put another way, these are books where the point of the story isn’t diversity, but just a natural outgrowth of it. The hardest thing to find? Casual diversity involving handicapped characters. I think they exist for the older readers, but not so much with picture books unless they’re part of group shots. Here’s what I came up with off the top of my head:
- My Aunt Came Back by Pat Cummings
- Daddy, Papa, and Me by Leslea Newman ; illustrated by Carol Thompson
- Mommy, mama, and me by Leslea Newman ; illustrated by Carol Thompson.
Toddler Picture Books
- Maria had a little llama = María tenía una llamita by Angela Dominguez
- Monday is one day by Arthur A. Levine ; illustrated by Julian Hector
- Nino wrestles the world by Yuyi Morales
Preschooler Picture Books
- Oh no!, or, How my science project destroyed the world by Mac Barnett ; illustrated by Dan Santat
- Jimmy the greatest! by Jairo Buitrago ; pictures by Rafael Yockteng
- The chicken-chasing queen of Lamar County by Janice N. Harrington ; pictures by Shelley Jackson
- Big red lollipop by Rukhsana Khan ; illustrated by Sophie Blackall
- Mini Mia and Her Darling Uncle by Pija Lindenbaum
- Freckleface Strawberry : best friends forever by Julianne Moore ; illustrated by LeUyen Pham
- Mom, it’s my first day of kindergarten! by Hyewon Yum
For this age level, what would you add?