It is a delight to see that children’s books with strong female subjects in both fiction and non-fiction continue to be a growing category. In some ways it feels that eventually, there will no longer be a need to highlight them in the capacity of advocacy.
However, alongside this development is the increasing awareness that books with strong females lack diverse representation, in other words characters whose ‘sheroes’ originate from elsewhere other than the dominant “white world”. The question is, where can one find comprehensive collections of diverse representative books ?
The Diverse Book Finder, an American based initiative from the Bates College Lad Library, aggregates diverse picture books published in the US from 2002 onwards for children between day care and third grade. The site is essentially a research project that indiscriminately showcases titles from around the world in English for the purpose of:
“ mov(ing) the diverse books discussion beyond a focus of lack of numbers to a much more nuanced exploration of who (which groups) are represented in recent American children’s picture books and how (what themes predominate for each group), and what that communicates about how members of each group are perceived in contemporary America”
For everyday readers
Thier non-curated collection that flags controversial titles and provides professional book reviews is useful when searching for titles across the broad categories of race-culture, ethnicity, content, genre, gender and more.
For children’s literature professionals and scholars
This serves as a useful resource for furthering research into the subject of diverse literature. The project is also concerned with contemporary cultural accuracy and the identification of stereotypes and unintentional harmful portrayals that can be found in this type of literature. They welcome feedback and very much see themselves as a work in progress.
For International Women’s Day
MeR invites its readers to click on the link below and explore The Diverse Book Finder’s collection of young children’s books with females in focus. Hopefully, we too, will reach a point where the gaps on our bookshelves will no longer serve as reminders of the lack of sensitive and accurate diverse representation.