At the Diverse BookFinder we’ve collected, coded, and cataloged thousands of trade picture books published since 2002 depicting Black and Indigenous people and People of Color (BIPOC). Using these data we provide real-time information about who (which BIPOC characters) is depicted in trade picture books, and how (what messages these stories send), to enable deeper conversation and change.
Data shows that books featuring BIPOC groups are consistently lower than books featuring animals or white characters annually
The number of books featuring characters of African descent has increased over the past 15 years, but it’s still sadly low
Our data is available to the public — live and free for your use.
Finding high quality picture books featuring BIPOC characters can be difficult.
Beautiful Black Bird Children’s Book Festival addresses this problem by bringing high quality picture books to you, with engaging activities.
Reading books like those featured in the festival can have lasting effects on children in several key areas: combating childhood bias, building intercultural competence, fostering literacy, supporting the development of positive identities.
COMBATING CHILDHOOD BIAS
“But, children don’t see race. They’re colorblind, right?”
The truth is that even infants are capable of seeing the physical differences that have been used to create racial categories (e.g. skin tone, eye shape). Infants who come from a place where their race is the majority, for instance, are likely to demonstrate a preference for these faces and become more adept at recognizing them, in part because they learn to scan them more thoroughly.
Balanced exposure to faces of the same and other races can combat this. Babies are not biased, but, in our highly segregated world, the seeds for unconscious bias are planted as babies. One way to address this is by examining images of other-race faces with your infant.
The high quality illustrations like those in the books featured in the BBCBF capture the real facial features of African descended people. When reading them to young children, point out the eyes, noses, and mouths of the black and brown characters to push back on the development of unconscious bias.
BUILDING INTERCULTURAL COMPETENCE
Psychological research has well established the pervasiveness of different forms of prejudice in children under the age of ten years.
Picture books have demonstrated an ability to affect attitude development and intentional behaviors in young children as evidenced by our own research using cross-group books, or books featuring characters having friendships across difference.
“It is our hope that everyone can use the Diverse BookFinder to see who is represented within diverse books as a whole and who is not — as well as how they are being represented to children. This knowledge empowers us to understand trends, gaps and enhance the representations available via children’s picture books for the future.”
—KRISTA ARONSON, DIRECTOR
Black and Brown children are better able to retain and recall plot and character information after reading books featuring characters who look like them.
Picture books provide a vehicle for parents and children to connect and share when they depict stories to which Black and Brown parents can relatelate or may be written in a language they can best understand.
These shared reading experiences support the development of strong literacy skills and familial closeness; two necessary components of academic success.
White, Aisha and Wanless, Shannon B. (2019) “P.R.I.D.E.: Positive Racial Identity Development in Early Education,” Journal of Curriculum, Teaching, Learning and Leadership in Education: Vol. 4 : Iss. 2 , Article 9.
‘Using multicultural picture books to promote racial justice in urban early childhood literacy classrooms’ T Husband Urban Education 54 (8), 1058-1084
Findings from numerous studies illuminate how important it is for children of African descent to feel connected with black culture(s) and feel positive about being black. Black identified adolescents who internalize these feelings are more likely to succeed academically and socio emotionally. Books like those featured in the BBCBF can be used to foster these feelings.
Visit the Diverse BookFinder to identify and explore thousands of picture books featuring Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) characters.
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