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IST 605: Diversity in Children's Literature

This guide provides resources to help parents/guardians/caregivers help build a more diverse collection of books for their child.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story | TED

There are a few shortfalls to consider before watching this video. This author has come under fire recently for commentary she has made towards the LGBTQ+ community and for her support of author J.K. Rowling, so she has become somewhat of a polarizing figure in the past few months. Additionally, the video is now 14 years old.

While her recent actions are under scrutiny, Chimamanda’s TED talk, despite its age, is still a powerful asset to the discussion of why it is necessary for children to be exposed to diverse stories.


This playlist from Reading Rockets is made up of multiple videos from the same interview. I would recommend if the user cannot view them all, then at least view 4- #WeNeedDiverseBooks and 5-Mirrors Windows and Sliding Glass Doors.

While the lack of currency of these videos can be an issue - the interview is 8 years old - Rudine Sims Bishop’s insights are still relevant today.

Rudine Sims Bishop is the originator of the phrase, “windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors,” which is used to describe how books must allow children to: view the world from others’ perspectives as one would look out a window, see themselves reflected back in the books they read as one would look in a mirror, and to both see and enter a world that is different from their own, as if walking through a sliding glass door to not only view, but also interact with the world around oneself. These ideas can be seen in multiple videos, presentations, and writings about diversity in children’s literature.


Matt de la Peña reflects on why his books are easier to find in some schools rather than others

Children’s author, Matt de la Peña discusses why it is necessary to ensure all children have access to diverse books. Diverse does not just mean featuring characters who are not white, diverse means children are exposed to stories about people from a variety of backgrounds and abilities.


In her TED talk, children’s author, Grace Lin, talks about her experience growing up as the only Chinese American child (aside from her siblings) in her school, and how the books that were available to her only featured white characters. Lin discusses the importance of the idea that children should read books that act not only as windows they use to view others, but as mirrors they use to view themselves.


This podcast interview is fairly long, however, there are a few chapters that are worth listening to as they specifically address the issue of lack of diversity in children's books, and how this issue is related to the publishing world.

Chapters of note and their timestamps:

  • Diversity in books [13:34]
  • How can publishing change [14:35]
  • Diverse Books [17:14]