Research shows that exposure to and experience with our child’s birth culture is necessary for him to develop a secure, confident racial identity. Figuring out HOW to do that can be overwhelming for parents who are also managing attachment or trauma issues, special needs, and IEP’s.
Kids’ books are a fantastic way to get these conversations started at home. In age-appropriate ways, you can introduce information about your child’s birth culture or your family make-up. Reading together about the diverse people in our homes and communities broadens his understanding of himself and his story. Diverse books allow us to learn together and to tell our children that there are other families out there that look like ours. Our kids feel valued and validated when they read stories about folks like them. If you are looking for diverse books for your kids, we have some great resources for you!
Creating a Family Book Lists
Of course, we think the Creating a Family Best Adoption Books For Kids And Adults are pretty diverse! The suggestions on the lists come from our staff, podcast listeners, blog readers (like you!) and members of our online support group. With such a diverse group of folks weighing in, our listings represent a wide variety of transracial adoption issues, by country, by age, and by topic.
We are always looking for other suggestions of books you’ve read and loved. If you don’t see your favorite on our different lists, you can share it with us! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org – share the book title, the author’s name, and a summary of the book.
We Need Diverse Books
If you surf around a bit on the We Need Diverse Books site, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by their many resources: for families, for schools, for writers, and publishers. Their mission is “putting more books featuring diverse characters into the hands of all children,” and they’ve developed a wide-reaching platform to accomplish that goal.
The WNDB Summer Reading Series is most notable for its “If you like this book, read this next” book lists. For example, here’s one specific to diversity in adoption stories (quoted from their Tumblr account),
If you liked Julia Alvarez’ FINDING MIRACLES read Cynthia Kadohata’s HALF A WORLD AWAY because both feature adopted children who are confronted with difficult challenges from their pre-adoption past. Read more about HALF A WORLD AWAY at the Smithsonian BookDragon.
WNDB is also active on social media and offers a blog which regularly features conversations with authors and other news in the world of diverse literature for young people. They’ve recently developed the Our Story app, which will put even more diversity at the fingertips of families, educators, and librarians.
Association for Library Service to Children
The Association for Library Service to Children, which is a division of the American Library Association, keeps updated lists of award-winning children’s books. Both websites have great search functions for more specific terms unique to your family dynamic. (Big thanks to my cousin, a school librarian for sharing her favorite resources with me!)
Here are a few well-known award lists to get you started on the search for great diverse books specifically for children and young adults:
- The Pura Belpré Book Award – books by Latino/Latina authors and illustrators
- The Coretta Scott King Book Award – books by African American authors and illustrators
- The Schneider Family Book Award – books by authors and illustrators who portray well the experiences of disabilities
Also available at the ALA site is The Rainbow Project Book List, which offers suggestions for books that deal with LGBTQ issues for children up to age 18.
Common Sense Media
You’ll want to check out the wide variety of reviews and resources for media at Common Sense Media, specific to your family’s needs for cultural and racial diversity. There are also resources for educators and advocates that you might find helpful.
A quick search on the site using the term “transracial adoption” with the filter of “Books” yielded 157 results. I was curious about books for my daughters: a search by the term “Chinese culture” yielded 573 results! We actually own quite a few on the list and they are family favorites.
The lists are easy to use, and many of them are broken down by age, from pre-school through 13+ years old. Here’s a sampling of the book lists on their site. It’s by no means exhaustive.
- Books That Promote Tolerance and Diversity
- 10 Exciting Books for Young Kids Learning About Black History
- 10 Amazing Books for Teens Exploring Black History
- LGBTQ Books
- Books About Adoption For Kids
- Books About Families
Other Websites and Links of Interest
- LEE & LOW BOOKS – This large American multicultural children’s book publisher offers resources for parents, educators, and breaks them down by age and by culture. Their blog is worth a peek too.
- Teaching Tolerance – Check out their list of “What We are Reading” Staff Picks. If you scroll down the site, you’ll see teaching topics like race, religion, and immigration that could be useful resources for transracial adoptive families
- White Sugar, Brown Sugar – This blogger, author, and transracial adoptive mom published this list of diverse books for kids of faith. She has also written two children’s books that focus on empowering girls of color
- Your local library – Don’t forget, in this age of having resources at your fingertips, your local library or school library is still available! Walk right up to that circulation desk and, as my other librarian-cousin said, “Never hesitate to ask, who knows what can happen.”
Looking for diverse books for our kids is no easy task. We hope these resources will help you find a variety of books to read to or share with, your kids no matter your family make-up. Use them to start conversations with your kids about transracial adoption, diversity, inclusivity, and growing a strong, healthy racial identity. The bonus is that you will be reading together — which is always great for attachment, reinforcing your child’s reading skills, and fostering a love for learning!
Where do you turn when you are looking for diverse books? Tell us in the comments!
Image Credit: Spirit-Fire; US Department of Education
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