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How to Use Our Cross-Group Category to Foster the Development of Friendships Across Racial/Cultural Difference

We have identified nine categories that capture the messages conveyed by children's books featuring characters of color. Every book in the Diverse BookFinder collection is coded using one or more of these nine themes.

The Nine Dominant Categories We Use Are:

  1. Beautiful Life: A focus on culture
  2. Oppression: Struggle, resistance, and triumph
  3. Cross-group: Interactions across race and culture
  4. Any Child: The “work” of childhood, or kids just being kids
  5. Biography: Stories about real people, real lives
  6. Race/Culture Concepts: Examining difference and commonalities
  7. Folklore: Myths, legends and traditional stories
  8. Incidental: Stories with white protagonists where characters of color are largely secondary
  9. Informational: Narrative nonfiction books featuring diverse communities with or without a storyline

We share our live numbers related to each of these categories in hopes of helping the broader community understand what is and is not currently available.

For example, using the numbers in parentheses to the right of each book category we can see:

  • As of August 1, 2018 we have identified 208 published picture books that featured characters interacting across racial and cultural differences (eg - Cross-group books)

Using Cross-Group Searches on Diverse BookFinder to Understand Representation

By selecting the cross-group filter and opening the race-culture pull down menu, we can see live numbers that give even more detail:

  • The majority of these Cross-Group interactions were been between black and white characters.

Breaking this down even farther you can open the ethnicity-nationality pull down menu and see

It’s our hope that data such as this can help the community identify gaps and trends, leading to broader representation in children’s picture books as a whole.

Using Cross-Group Searches on Diverse BookFinder to Create Change

However, I believe and know it can go so much deeper than just data. Understanding data can create action which creates change, as we saw in my daughter’s own school. This is in large part why we cross-identify books on a number of additional facets.

According to Psychological research, to be effective in fostering friendships across difference, a Cross-Group book must depict children who:

  • are recognizably different from each other interacting directly (playing together, face-to-face),
  • in a positive manner (no oppression or conflict), where they share equal status in the relationship
  • in stories where their friendship is central to the plot.

We tag all of the Cross-Group books to provide information about each of these story features. 

If you select a Cross-Group book you will see additional tags indicating whether the intercultural relationship is central, direct and positive (stories can also be indirect, negative/resolving, or non-central). If not, the book may still be good from a literary standpoint, but will not likely facilitate the development of friendships across racial/cultural difference. You can find this information at the bottom of the specific book page.


Here are some other suggested cross-group titles where the friendship is central, direct and positive. Use the Diverse BookFinder to locate and explore even more.

In a minute


by Tony Bradman and Eileen Browne

Jo can't wait to get to the playground

Any Child Cross Group

I hope this information sparks conversation and change so that all of our children can be best prepared for the diverse world in which we currently live.



Many of the cover images on this site are from Google Books.
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