A Text Set for Ethnic Diversity in Literature

There is, and continues to be, a lack of diversity in books. 
So what can you do about it as a teacher? 

Educate your students about how this shortcoming directly 
affects our country's literacy problems. As book buyers/readers, 
your high school students can have an impact on change. 

Advocacy is the key. A silent bystander contributes...

And as a teacher, you're in the perfect position to make a 
difference in something bigger than just your classroom.

Read A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One 
Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Sophie 
Blackall with your high school students. (Book image credit:

Do your students notice any issues with this 2015 publication? 

Then, read to them the controversy... and apologies and refutes. 

(By the way, Emily Jenkins is E. Lockhart, the author of  the 
YA title We Are Liars. Pretty cool, right?)

Another initial discussion point could be NY Times articles 
by Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers... Addition resources
can be found at the end of this blog entry.

This text set could be used with an all-class (required) text 
featuring diversity (or lack there of!), OR the text set could be used solo.
This set offers a variety of genre, format, and reading level for 
high school students.

Remember: Bringing light to the issue is the goal. Foster 
a desire for improvement. Support the need for change.

In the words of Michel Chikwanine's father, in Child Soldier: When
Boys and Girls Are Used in War (2015), "If you ever think you are
too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a

*I Am Malala by Yousafzai

Zeitoun by Eggers

Queen of Water by Resau (based on a true story)

*A Long Way Gone by Beah

Becoming Maria by Sonia Manzano

Never Fall Down by McCormick (based on a true story)

*Between the World and Me by Coates

*Waiting on Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy by Eire

*I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Angelou

The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

*The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs


Kite Runner by Hosseini

Dreamers of the Day by Russell

Beloved by Morrison

The Invention of Wings by Kidd

In the Time of Butterflies by Alverez

*Things Fall Apart by Achebe

Little Bee by Cleave

The Round House by Eldrich

Euphoria by King

Everything I Never Told You by Ng

*The Book of Unknown Americans by Henriquez

Poem Prose

Sold by McCormick

5 to 1 by Bodger

The Dreamer by Ryan

 Graphic Novel/Hybrid format

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Alexi

Persepolis by Satrapi

American Born Chinese by Yang

March: Book 1 by Lewis MAUS by Spiegelman

A Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls are Used in War by Humphreys & Chikwanine

 Picture books

Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Winter

*Four Feet, Two Sandals by Williams

*Rain School by Rumford

The Rough-Face Girl by Martin, illustrated by Shannon

Pink and Say by Polacco

Faithful Elephants: A True story of Animals, People, and War by Tsuchiya

Henry’s Freedom Box by Levine

A Snowy Day by Keats

*As of 11/18/2015, I have not read these YET.  But I plan to soon! My choice to add the title to the list is based on research (via SLJ, ALA, Amazon, Goodreads).


http://weneeddiversebooks.org/ – An official campaign for more diversity in literature.

http://www.diversityinya.com/category/book-lists/ – A current list of science fiction/fantasy diverse YA books. *This site offers lots more, too, including updated new release lists!

http://www.psmag.com/books-and-culture/answer-implicit-racism-might-childrens-literature-95094 – A great article answering the question once more: Why do we need Diversity in books?

This video is published by http://www.ctbooktrust.org/ and promotes their #handsupdontspend initiative.

Want more authors from diverse backgrounds? Try some of these, recommended by Book Riot:http://bookriot.com/2015/01/22/reading-diversely-faq-part-2/ 

This particular podcast got my mind buzzing! It could possibly  serve as a good starting point for other teachers, in regards to tackling this concern/issue via the classroom.

Your students may find motivation via this video, promoted by We Need Diverse Books. I (personally) find it always cool to hear from authors themselves!

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