In recent years, there has been a lot of attention given to the diversity of children’s books, shining a light on the lack of diversity and amplifying the need for more children’s and young adult literature that reflect our multicultural society. In 2014, an organization named We Need Diverse Books formed, following a regularly trending hashtag with the same name (#WeNeedDiverseBooks) that helped bring attention to the issue. We Need Diverse Books advocates for changes in the publishing industry “to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.” In 2015, an African-American 11-year-old girl named Marley Dias brought further awareness of the issue by launching the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign, highlighting the lack of kids’ books with African-American characters. The Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) compiles annual data about the diversity of children’s literature and their statistics indicate improvements in recent years but we still have work to do.
This lesson provides an opportunity for students to learn more about the importance of diverse literature, reflect on Marley Dias’ campaign, understand data and research about diversity in children’s literature and engage in a study on the diversity of books in their classroom or school library. The lesson can also be used as a way to kick off an independent reading/Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) challenge in class or school.