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Exploratorium : Diverse Literature for Children and Young Adults

This is the LibGuide for the 610 Public Library Group.


The purpose of this section is to provide a collection of materials and resources on diverse literature for children and young adults. It is vital that everyone has access to books whose characters look like them and whose stories are relatable. This page's ultimate goal is share a small collection of materials but to also share further readings that will demonstrate the dire need for diverse literature. 

Diverse Literature for Children and Adults

Diverse Children's Books

Original Annotation: This is the perfect book for families to read with young children. It promotes diversity and inclusion in a way that fun and understandable for a young child. 

Review: Publisher's Weekly (June 1, 2015)

"Manushkin  offers a cheeky meditation on the everyday miraculousness of skin, with a biracial family at the center of her story. “It’s terrific to have skin,” she muses. “It keeps the outsides out/ and your insides in.” Skin is also something we all have in common, regardless of age, color, or whether it’s adorned with “freckles/ or birthmarks/ or dimples.” With plenty of sentimental books about belonging available, a fun angle on the ties that bind members of the human family is welcome; the silly-earnest premise inspires several quirky observations to keep readers intrigued, including a shout-out to scabs as “a perfect seal.” Following a light-skinned mother and her three children (who share their father’s brown skin), Tobia  creates an expansive, multicultural cast of urbanites enjoying themselves at a park, at the public pool, and at a boisterous block party. It’s freewheeling fun—a perfect book for the months when we all try to wear as little as possible. Ages 2–5."

Original Annotation: This is a fun book about self discovery and natural curiosity. It is a good book for families to read together and a perfect book to use to model active reading techniques.

Review: De Colores: The Raza Experience in Books for Children (January 26, 2016)

"Last Stop on Market Street is an award-winning book, not only because the language is lyrical and the illustrations are alive with rhythm and warmth, but also because it is a groundbreaking story. It is a story where it matters that CJ is a Black child spending Sunday with his grandmother. It is a story where it matters still more that CJ and his Nana ask each other hard questions and make space for complex answers. It is a story where it matters that we, too, might learn to make our world as we go along."


Original Annotation:  A great book to share with school age children to showcase the importance of diversity. This is a great book to use at the beginning of a story time to create a safe space and ensure that every child feels welcome.

Review: Books that Heal Kids (July 19, 2018)

"I would love to read this in our first school assembly. It has the best community builder message I have ever read in any book. It will also work for ALL grades. Often times our beginning of the year assemblies revolve around teaching the kids school expectations and rules. How about we first let them know they have a place in our school? No matter their background, color of skin, culture, etc. their school is welcoming to them. Cannot wait to share this with my staff and students!"

Original Annotation: A perfect book to use for a diversity themed story time. This book encourages friendships and the acceptance of people who are different from us. This is also a great book for families to read together. 

Review: Kirkus Reviews (July 5, 2011)

Purposeful, but saved from didacticism by the sheer exuberance of the illustrations; the accessible text introduces the idea of traditional two-way communication and demonstrates just how small our world can be."

Original Annotation: This is my favorite diverse children's book! It is a book that can be used build confidence in children and to encourage them to love the skin that they are in. It is a book for all ages.

Review: Books that Heal Kids (March 22, 2010)

"This book is a WINNER with kids. They ooooh, awww, and GIGGLE over the illustrations. I'm oooohing, awwing, and giggling right along with them. Other book reviews have commented that the illustrations are Dr. Seuss-ish. I adore the spunky, joyful, smiley little girl in this book. The kids bounce with anticipation with the approach of every turned page. The inside jacket of the book says, "At once silly and serious, this exuberant ode to self-esteem is sassy, soulful-and straight from the heart." SO TRUE! Oh, and you will also love her darling little dog - her self-esteem side kick. Need another book that is chock-full of lessons on self-esteem? Then I Like Myself is destined for your shelf."

Subscription Journals for Diverse Children's and Young Adult Literature

Original Annotation: This journal is one of the largest and most renowned resources for reviews and useful information for all libraries serving children and young adults no matter the size. The journal's website is also easily accessible. 

Review: Arizona State University (ASU Library) 

"The most complete provider of news, information and reviews for librarians, media specialists and teachers who serve children and young adults in school and public libraries."

Original Annotation: This is a useful journal for anyone that is working in a youth services library department. The article and other resources shared are credible and relevant.  

Review: LIS Publications Wiki

"LIS authors with even a modicum of interest in working with teens should take a look at this journal and consider submitting an article for publication. It is extremely helpful that, even if your paper is rejected by JRLYA, the editors will suggest alternate publications for you to submit to."


Original Annotation:A great resource to use to learn more about international children's literature. The ideas shared are on trend and relevant, and this is a valuable resource for all information professionals.

Review: International Research Society for Children's Literature (June 15, 2017)

"The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) is a non-profit organization which represents an international network of people from all over the world who are committed to bringing books and children together."

Podcasts for Children's and Young Adult Literature

Original Annotation: This is the perfect tool to use to strengthen your reader's advisory tool and a great source to recommend to families when they are struggling to get their children excited to read. 

Review: Plumfield and Paidiea Podcast and Membership Review (April 10, 2016)

"I have not been asked to provide this review – I am writing earnestly from my experience. I am, however, deeply grateful to Sarah and Kortney for the rich mentoring and support I have received from my membership. I am grateful to their families for sharing them with us. Read Aloud Revival is a very special place, and it has been a big blessing in the life of my family."

Link to blog:

Original Annotation: Thought provoking, informative, and absolutely necessary are the only words that come to mind when I think about this podcast. It is a valuable resource for young adults and their families. 

Review: Pod Paradise

"I will listen to just about any podcast that talks about books but the beauty of this podcast is the hosts. I wouldn't care if they didn't even talk about books, I just want to listen to them talk. They're funny. They offer a perspective I don't normally hear in the book world. They're not afraid to talk trash. They are most definitely honest. I just want to hang out with them."

Link to Blog:

Diverse Young Adult Books

Original Annotation: Heartbreaking and inspiring are the only words that I could use to describe this book. Every reader will be able to relate to a piece of Starr's story and the topics in the book lend themselves very well to roundtable readings and book discussions.

Review: Your Teen Magazine (Mina Jones)

"It’s a rarity: a book for teens that deals with civil rights in the modern world, a time when we shouldn’t have to—but do have to—worry about people being targeted for race. Also important, the issues in The Hate U Give are handled well and correctly, not misrepresented or drawn one-dimensionally.The Hate U Give is a very good book. I would recommend it to anyone interested in a book that discusses important social and cultural conflicts in a raw and gripping manner."


Original Annotation: A beautifully written coming of age story that bonds two unlikely characters together in a way that benefits them both. This a great book to share with teens when discussing the effects of bullying and when advocating for trans acceptance among youth. 

Review: The Guardian (July 8, 2016) 

"In so many ways this is a refreshing book to read. David is a blunt, frank narrator: “I’m not gay. I’m just a straight girl stuck in a boy’s body”. The ease with which, ironically, Lisa Williamson writes about characters struggling with their sexuality is remarkable. I was also taken aback, though, by the matter-of-fact inclusion of class as another seeming-impervious barrier in teenage relationships. Somehow as readers we are used to the idea of racism, sexism and homophobia being explored through novels and literature, while Leo’s uneasy limbo, coming from a working-class background but going to a ‘posh school’, was not only poignant but startlingly new in my reading experience."

Original Annotation: This is one of the first books that I read as a young adult where I was able to truly relate to the experiences of a character in a book. Flake's words transcend off the page and resonated to the battles that I faced as a teen. I would recommend this book to be shared in book clubs for young women of all backgrounds.

Review: Black and Bookish (August 24, 2016)

"Sharon Flake's debut young adult novel addresses the ways in which we doubt our own greatness. How we can ignore our own truths when other's lies become louder. I have met many women, just like myself, who can remember years of taunts from the other kids about our "nappy hair" or "preppy voices." Many darker skin women grew up being told to stay out of the sun or seeing their images synonymous with the angry black woman trope. Flake created Maleeka in solidarity to the women and girls plagued by societal norms created to hold us in our place."

Original Annotation: This is a coming of age story about family, dealing with grief, overcoming trauma, and truly accepting yourself. Every reader will be able to relate to some of the characters in the text and their experiences. This is a great book to use during book clubs because it lends itself easily to discussions. 

Review: The New York Times (November 6, 2014)

"Art — its creation, its importance, its impact on identity and freedom — is perhaps the central theme of “I’ll Give You the Sun.” The book celebrates art’s capacity to heal, but it also shows us how we excavate meaning from the art we cherish, and how we find reflections of ourselves within it. I’ve always loved this line from Stendhal: “A novel is a mirror carried down a high road.” Done well, it shows us ourselves even as it moves us forward into new places and new understandings. “I’ll Give You the Sun” is a dazzling mirror, and many grateful teenagers are sure to find themselves reflected in and learning from its pages."

Original Annotation: Discussions involving race relations are always tricky to navigate with teens.  This book lends itself easily to having those discussions in a way that is productive and safe.

Review: School Library Journal (February 23, 2017)

Maintaining two timelines with two narrators and keeping both equally interesting is not an easy task. Latham ties the stories together enough that we see parallels without being hit over the head with them. Both narrators are complicated, interesting figures, but seeing William’s emotional and intellectual journey is the far more satisfying story. Equally as satisfying is how Latham brings us to the end of the mystery. The tight pacing and action-packed, unpredictable plot make this book fly by. An author’s note at the end tells more about the race riots in Tulsa in 1921 and examines the controversial term. The note also points out a few resources for further reading. This book—a contemporary story, historical fiction, and a mystery, all at once—will have wide appeal. A gripping look at a shameful time in America’s history and (not that we need it) a reminder of how slow progress really is. 

Databases for Diverse Children's and Young Adult Literature

Original Annotation: Not only does the Diverse Bookfinder database offer a comprehensive collection of diverse literature for children and young adults it also eloquently justifies the overwhelming need for diverse literature. This is a valuable resource for families, educators, and all library professionals. 

Review: Literary Fusions (October 3,2017)

"You’re either going to love us or hate us. Today, we bring you a relatively simple little site with a powerful mission. It’s so simple and so powerful that you might just wonder where the time went as you explore! You can do a quick keyword search, or you can browse by applying a series of filters, beginning with the nine established categories, and going all the way to genre. WOW! This is such a valuable resource! You could probably spend a lot of time looking through these books! The results lists are really user-friendly as well – you can see the cover of the book and get a brief description, as well as a list of themes."

Original Annotation: This database is full of titles to ensure that every child that we serve in the library has a book that they can relate to. This database contains many titles that I had never heard of and i am excited to use it for reader's advisory in my library. 

Review: Common Sense Media

"Parents need to know that the International Children's Digital Library is a multicultural library that features carefully selected, age-rated and age-appropriate books. includes children's books from more than 40 countries and in 55 languages. The site is easily accessible and allows users to search for books by age, country, language, length, or genre. Parents can rest easy -- the site doesn't have any interactive areas, and the nonprofit organization uses strict policies on privacy and external links to keep kids away from inappropriate content. The limited amount of required information from members isn't sold or distributed to other parties."

Videos About Diverse Literature for Children and Young Adults

Original Annotation: This video advocates for the inclusion of diversity in children's literature. Diversity in literature is no longer just an option, it is mandatory.


Original Annotation: We Need Diverse Books is a valuable resource for all library professionals and it is one of the biggest advocates in the fight for more diverse books. This campaign video show power and importance of diverse literature.

Original Annotation: This video eloquently explains why diverse books are necessary for every child to feel valued and included in literature. 

Original Annotation: This is a great video to use to explain what diversity truly is to children. The video is engaging and very informative.


Arizona State University. (2019). Children's & Young Adult Literature. Retrieved from Arizona State University:

Black and Bookish. (2016, August 24). Back to School with "The Skin I'm In" by Sharon Flake (Book Review). Retrieved from Black and Bookish:

Books that Heal Kids. (2010, March 22). Book Review: I Like Myself! Retrieved from Books that Heal Kids:

Books that Heal Kids. (2018, July 19). Book Review: All Are Welcome. Retrieved from Books that Heal Kids:

Diverse Book Finder. (2019). Diverse Book Finder: Our Vision. Retrieved from Diverse Book Finder:

Enciso, P. (2016, January 26). Last Stop on Market Street. Retrieved from De Colores: The Raza Experience in Books for Children:

International Research Society for Children's Literature. (2017, June 15). Call for Editors for Bookbird: A Journal of International Children’s Literature . Retrieved from International Research Society for Children's Literature:

Jones, M. (2018). Book Reviews: “The Hate U Give”—An Unsparing Look at Teens and Race. Retrieved from Your Teen Magazine:

Kirkus Reviews. (2011, July 5). SAME, SAME BUT DIFFERENT. Retrieved from Kirkus Reviews:

LIS Publications Wiki. (2018, February 5). The Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults. Retrieved from LIS Publications Wiki:

Literary Fusions. (2017, October 3). Website Review: Diverse BookFinder. Retrieved from Literary Fusions:

Macgregor, A. (2017, February 23). Book Review: Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham. Retrieved from School Library Journal:

Masarik, S. (2016, April 10). Bad Days are Apart of the Deal. Retrieved from Plumfield and Paidiea:

Oliver, L. (2014, November 6). ‘I’ll Give You the Sun,’ by Jandy Nelson. Retrieved from The New York Times:

Pod Paradise. (2019). Reviews for Black Chick Lit. Retrieved from Pod Paradise:

Publisher's Weekly. (2015, June 1). Happy In Our skin. Retrieved from Publisher's Weekly:

School Library Journal. (2019). School Library Journal: About. Retrieved from School Library Journal:

The Guardian. (2016, June 8). The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson - review. Retrieved from The Guardian:

Wirsing, K. (2019). International Children's Digital Library. Retrieved from Common Sense Media:

Young Adult Library Association. (2019). The Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults. Retrieved from Young Adult Library Association: