One of my favorite small talk topics of conversation is discussing books. I ask for book recommendations or I talk about something new I am reading. It is a safe and pleasant topic of conversation to fill the awkward silence with something meaningful. I love hearing why people love certain books, authors, and illustrators. I also loving hearing about what their intention is behind the book. To me, the “why” behind choosing a book is extremely important. Which is why in this article today, I want to give you the ultimate guide to a multicultural library. By giving you the best resources for finding diverse books for the entire family, you can create a truly comprehensive home or classroom library.
“The true meeting takes place when the book opens, and a stranger reads about — and comprehends — a stranger.”
The Ultimate Guide to a Multicultural Library
How do you choose the books you buy or borrow from the library? What is the purpose of the book you chose? Was it for fun, to talk about meeting a milestone, or maybe to teach a skill? For myself, I choose books mostly based on representation and multiculturalism. However, finding these books for my two biracial girls can be a challenge.
If you were to organize your books by geography, race, religion, and gender, what would your shelves look like? Have you ever intentionally bought books to teach the children in your life about a specific topic in the news or media? How culturally responsive is your home or classroom library?
No matter what your budget is, there are some phenomenal resources for diversifying your libraries. These have been put together by a number of book publishers, businesses, and blogs. Their goal is to make accessing diverse and quality literature easy for you and I to find books that represent our unique family dynamics.
We Need Diverse Books
On the We Need Diverse Books site, they have a compiled a list of multicultural and multiracial books that you can search for by topic on an app. Our Story is a tool for kids, parents, educators, and librarians to discover diverse books.
You take a quiz and the algorithm helps you find the perfect book. There are free and paid membership levels. The paid membership levels include access to exclusive content from authors and illustrators. There are also options for accessing materials; this way parents, educators, and librarians can incorporate the chosen books into their curriculum and programs. A comprehensive resource for building a multicultural library.
Lee and Low Books
Lee and Low Books is my favorite resource for multicultural books that promote diversity and empathy. They have many resources and guides on how to choose books with intention and eliminating the guesswork with quality and diverse literature.
They also have a checklist to follow-up your newly decorated reader friendly home to ensure your library is culturally responsive. (The PDF is geared towards classrooms but can be applied to home libraries.)
Reading diverse books and diverse authors is the first step to supporting the movement—the second step is telling everyone you know to do the same thing.- Alaina Leary
Book Trust is based in the UK and has transformed lives with their focus on family literacy. Their Book Finder resource gives you a search engine to find selections based on age, topic, author, interest, etc. for building an amazing multicultural library.
This site shares articles, resources, and even hosts reading competitions. One of the recent interviews with Anna McQuinn struck a chord with me as a lover of books that show representation matters. This famous author has written dozens of books and she discusses why she is so passionate about having a book where every child feels like they are the star of the story.
For example, in her book Zeki Can Swim, she highlights a character with a foreshortened arm into her new book seamlessly rather than focusing on the disability. This book also highlights dads as competent parents, rather than just “helping”. More books are definitely needed in this day and age showing that dads are not babysitters.
Diverse Book Clubs
Global Read Aloud: This is a free, once-a-year project in which classrooms (or homeschooling families) around the globe read the same book during a set 6-week period and make global connections through Skype, Twitter chat, etc.
You can even send a post card… because everyone loves vintage snail mail! I am a HUGE fan of pen pals! In my classroom, I have my students connect with pen pals from across the globe. I recently started the tradition with my oldest daughter now that she can write connect through books. You can choose the books you want to read with your children/students from their list.
This year, Australian author Mem Fox is the focus of this year’s picture book study for the youngest readers. If you have been following me for a while, you know she is one of my ultimate favorite literacy authors when it comes to reading and education. Her books that will be included are Koala Lou, Possum Magic, and more.
The other books to choose from are Fenway and Hattie by Victoria Coe (early readers); The Wild Robot by Peter Brown (upper elementary/middle grades); A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park (middle school); and A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (young adult).
I like to refer to Goodreads as social media for bookworms/bibliophiles/book fanatics. Here you can not only connect with your favorite authors, but also find book clubs and groups dedicated to reading the same type of books you read. We all read the Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews; here is a way to be more selective with books to use our precious reading time to find quality and diverse literature.
Insider Tip: Connect with authors on Goodreads that will be at your local book festival. This is a fabulous way to connect, as well as stand out of the crowd. If you are a book blogger/ author/ book enthusiast, this is crucial.
Here at Biracial Bookworms, my ultimate goal is to not only give books and resources for teaching kids HOW to read, but also highlight WHAT to read. I am dedicated to finding the best resources out there to teach literacy skills. This can be done through not only the classics, but through diverse books about cultures, languages, and ethnicities from around the world.
My focus is on guiding people to books that foster community through education. I believe the research is true that children especially need explicit books and resources to develop a globally minded perspective led by empathy. On my website, there are tools for teaching reading, learning multiple languages, and traveling to give kids the total reading package with culturally rich experiences.
You are invited to join my Facebook group dedicated to people like you who want resources and books for multicultural and multiracial families. Our group is an open forum for discussing books and resources that highlight multicultural and multiracial characters. Join HERE today!
Additionally, I have a FREE eBook just for you that is filled with strategies for reading aloud with children 0-5. There is over 500 titles of books from all over the world that I recommend. I have organized the list by age and by type of book (song book, picture book, etc.). To join our little clubhouse of diverse bookaholics and get your free eBook today, enter your email in the form below.
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This free eBook is designed to help you teach your child HOW to read, but also WHAT to read. I combine reading strategies with diverse and multicultural literature so that your child can become a successful reader while also becoming an empathetic global citizen of the world.
This eBook has the best reading strategies out there for teaching the children in your life HOW to read as well as WHAT to read with them.
This eBook is the first lesson in my Teach Kids to Read 0-5 online course and it is yours for free today for joining our tribe.