- The Diverse BookFinder is not a list of recommended titles, but a research collection aimed at bringing a critical conversation to multicultural books.
- This is not an historical collection, we look at books published since 2002.
- You can check out any of the books in the Diverse BookFinder from our collection, which is housed at Bates College (Ladd Library).
- Simply visit your library and ask them how using interlibrary loan.
The Diverse BookFinder is linked with a physical collection of picture books, housed at Ladd Library on the Bates College campus, featuring characters from First/Native Nations, Asian, Black, Latinx, Middle Eastern/Arab, and multiracial backgrounds, in stories set in the United States and abroad.
Inclusion criteria are as follows:
- Trade books (those traditionally acquired by libraries and reviewed in literary journals, not including mass market and media tie-in titles or self published books.
- The body of literature most commonly used by those interested in working with and transforming the lives of young readers) suitable for children in kindergarten through grade three (K-3).
- Published since 2002.
- Usually 32 pages in length.
- Illustrations that are a key part of understanding the book.
- Human characters featured in fiction and narrative non-fiction stories. Books featuring animals as primary characters are not included, with a few exceptions of stories in which animals clearly represent people from a specific cultural context.
In addition to providing a research base, this collection offers a resource for scholars, librarians, educators and parents. Books included in this collection are available for checkout through interlibrary loan. This is the only circulating collection of its kind.
The collection will continue to grow annually, with books donated by publishers or purchased by Ladd Library.
While we recognize the important contributions of self- published books to the diverse books movement, we do not currently include them in our collection parameters. While we do accept donations of self- published books that meet our other collection criteria (listed above), we do not have the capacity to acquire individual titles outside of typical library distributors.
Ours is not a curated collection. We believe there is value in providing access to all titles published since 2002. Doing so allows visitors to see that, for instance, the majority of books published featuring Brazilian characters focus on soccer. Advocates can use this evidence to push for more representational diversity within multiple spheres – creator, consumer, and publisher. Our goal is to include all books featuring human characters of color including those from Native nations published since 2002. This is, in part, because we started as a research collection focused on capturing and communicating categories represented in all diverse picture books -- to provide an opportunity for everyone to reflect on where we are as we envision where we want to go. It is also because we don't believe anyone can or should be the single, final arbiter of good and bad within the diverse books world. We believe doing so by offering only curated lists can encourage passive purchasing/use and discourage exploration and enthusiasm. For instance, our analysis of library bookshelves across the United States using WorldCat indicates that the same relatively small number of diverse titles dominates children’s book collections. We hope to change this.
To break this trend, we invite all users to explore everything out there and actively consider which books they want to purchase. To support this, we currently offer free and easy access to information about the group(s) represented in each book along with its book category. We also offer professional book reviews through the Bates College Library link available on every book results page, as well as links to tools that have been designed to help evaluate quality/authenticity (on our related readings page). We hope to embed a rating system reflecting existing scholarship on quality/authenticity into the Diverse BookFinder in the future. We also believe that even inauthentic, inaccurate, or stereotypical books can shed light on important issues and that they should be explored and explained in the light of day as examples of what's problematic and harmful by activists, teachers, parents and scholars, rather than submerged or censored. Of course, many problematic titles are currently on shelves across the country.
In providing access to every book it is our hope that we can shift focus and teach effective mechanisms for doing so, putting the necessary evaluative tools and the future trajectory of diverse books in everyone's hands and on everyone's minds. This is an evolving process. We appreciate your support and patience as we undertake such a large and lofty endeavor.