This year, 11-year-old Marley Dias gained national fame for starting #1000BlackGirlBooks. The campaign was created to collect 1000 books that featured Black girls as the main character and not in a supporting role. Marley told the Huffington Post, "I was frustrated... in fifth grade where I wasn't reading [books with] a character that I could connect with.”
Chances are Marley is not alone in her frustrations. According to a study by the Cooperative Children Book Center at the University of Wisconsin, only 11% of the books published in 2014 featured an African-American, Native American, Asian American, or Latino as a main character.
As an educator or a parent this makes finding literature to affirm the backgrounds of our children and young adults a daunting task. To make this easier Elevating Equity has compiled our five favorite book lists that feature people of color as the main or supporting character.
- The Carter G. Woodson Award Winners- Each year the National Council for Social Studies honors books at the elementary and secondary level that depict ethnicity in the social sciences.
- Children’s Book Council – The organization which promotes diverse voices in literature has created a list of over 1000 books featuring characters of color. You can sort the list by topics of interest.
- Common Sense Media – This list supports readers from PK-12th grade
- Cooperative Children’s Book Center- 30 Multicultural Books Every Teen Should Know
- Teaching for Change Books – Find titles for PK-12th grade students that feature Afro-Latino/as the main characters.
As a bonus, we also suggest you download the app, We Read Too, which showcases over 500 books written by authors of color and featuring characters of color.
While Marley announced she’ll donate the books she collected to a library in her mother’s hometown in Jamaica, we hope you’ll find a book you love and donate it to a student of color in your own hometown or classroom.