The list of all my Target picks so far, some stats about them, and the plan for 2018.
In December 2016 I started an experiment. Every month, I would purchase a diverse book from Target. I didn’t have a timeframe for reading or reviewing them and there was no particular genre or age level.
Some were books I’d heard of or been anticipating, others were books I simply picked because they had a POC on the cover, the title was diverse, or the author was a POC. I did occasionally see a few books which I already owned, and didn’t rebuy those. While most were books I wouldn’t have picked outside of this challenge, I never chose a book that I thought I would dislike.
Here are five books for the youngest readers that focus on different African Americans. Some you may have heard of before, others may be new to you!
(Perhaps these will help you go beyond the big five.)
Dave must have been very strong, as he was able to create pottery that not many could. He knew how to read and write, because he wrote poems on the side of some of his pottery. This book shares the beauty and artistry of his life without ever ignoring the harsh reality that he was a slave.
This picture book does a great job of presenting the life story of Ida B. Wells, including difficult topics such as lynching. Because of the subject matter, I’d recommend this for older picture book readers, or as a family read so parents can address any questions children might have.
Did you know that Major Taylor was the first black world champion bicyclist? He used hard work and athleticism to prove that race did not determine ability at a time when the world was determined to prove him otherwise. This would be a great book to read before or after a bike ride, or when the weather keeps you indoors!
This nonfiction early reader is actually written by Ruby Bridges herself, and includes photos of her historic integration of a New Orleans elementary school. This is one of my earliest reviews for this blog, so I was hesitant to link it, but there aren’t enough diverse early readers and this book should be better known.
I’m not much of a music person, so it’s surprising how much this book delighted me. The story of DJ Kool Herc is fascinating and covers topics like immigration, community, and of course music! The illustrations never fail to delight new readers and this remains a favorite in our house.
(Note: technically Kool Herc is a Jamaican-American, but he’s seen as part of the African-American community, which is why I included him on this list.)
So, a while back I mentioned that when I started reviewing board books, it was difficult to find diverse board book lists. That wasn’t so much because they don’t exist, as because most of the ones I found have problematic content, or are board and picture books mixed together. Here are a few pretty good ones.
This is important because most other lists (including some I’ll share) have poor indigenous representation. I always look for a review from AICL or an #ownvoices reviewer, and check if the author/illustrator are Native.
While it wasn’t recommended as a “diverse books list”, I loved that most of the books on this list are diverse, including Hawaiian, Native, and specialty religious books that are diverse.
And finally, Drivel and Drool has a list broken down by ethnicity of the main character, with again the caveat to please check the Native books against AICL’s listing as some are problematic. I like that this book includes some nonfiction board books.