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Celebrating Diverse Children's Books: These Stories Dazzle and Reflect

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Nasreddine by Odile Weulersse. Illustrated by Rébecca Dautremer
Nasreddine by Odile Weulersse. Illustrated by Rébecca Dautremer


Recently, the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks went viral. Demanding more diversity in children's literature, this social media campaign has drawn attention to what we've known all along: literature has the power to instantiate universal human truths through stories told around the globe, across gender lines, and from varying religious perspectives. Here's a list drawing on the work of children's librarians Jeanne Lamb, Elizabeth Bird, and many of their colleagues, who are at the forefront of promoting diverse titles to readers in New York City and beyond, year after year, through NYPL's 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing.

Join us in delight, wonder, and love by checking out some of NYPL's favorite diverse children's books—because #WeNeedDiverseBooks.

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin
By Jen Bryant. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
African-American artist Horace Pippin became a full-time painter after he was injured in World War I. A colorful account of Pippin's life and work.

Chickadee
By Louise Erdrich
Kidnapped by twin bullies and taken to a strange new land, a young Ojibwe boy draws upon the strength of his feathered namesake in this new volume of the Birchbark House series.

Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table
By Jacqueline Briggs Martin. Illustrated by Eric-Shabazz Larkin
No space? No problem. Poor soil? We'll find a solution. A former basketball star turns an empty lot into a garden—and doesn't stop there.

Ganesha's Sweet Tooth 
By Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes
Epic myth meets the Super Jumbo Jaw Breaker in this eye-popping, candy-colored recreation of a classic Hindu tale.

Grandma and the Great Gourd: A Bengali Folktale
By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Illustrated by Susy Pilgrim Waters
Leaving home to visit her daughter on the other side of the jungle, a cunning grandmother must use her wits to escape the jaws of hungry jungle beasts. Vivid illustrations bring this classic tale to life.

Jimmy the Greatest! 
By Jairo Buitrago. Illustrated by Rafael Yockteng.
Jimmy may not have shoes, but he has books and boxing. And sometimes it's possible to make your dreams come true right in your own backyard.

Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me
By Daniel Beaty. Illustrated by Bryan Collier
A moving portrait of a child in the wake of an absent parent, told against the backdrop of New York City.

Little White Duck: A Childhood in China
By Na Liu and Andres Vera Martinez. 
These eight beautifully drawn glimpses of tradition and change in China are based on the author's own early memories growing up in the city of Wuhan.

Nasreddine
By Odile Weulersse. Illustrated by Rébecca Dautremer
The villagers always find something new to scold Nasreddine and his father about each week on their way to market. How can one boy please everyone, yet still stay true to himself?

Niño Wrestles the World
By Yuyi Morales
Fwap! Slish! Bloop! Krunch! A young boy imagines himself wrestling and defeating out-of-this-world contenders, but when it comes to las hermanitas, he may have finally met his match.

Starry River of the Sky
By Grace Lin
Rendi, a sullen young runaway stranded in a remote Chinese village, discovers secrets, stories, and the location of the missing moon.

This Is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration
By Jacqueline Woodson. Illustrated by James Ransome
An intergenerational tale that follows a family as they move from rural South Carolina to Brooklyn.

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Award winning children's picture books by Tanzanian born author

Check out the books by Tanzanian born Tololwa Mollel, an award-winning storyteller, author, and playwright.

Weneeddiversebooks

Great start -- now let's keep these books at the forefront and not pigeonhole new books to "special lists" -- diverse books need to be integrated into all lists and all columns.

Done and done

No worries, Sharron. These books have all appeared on our lists of 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing over the years. We take special care to always integrate a great deal of diversity into our end of the year lists. No pigeonholing here.

Books about Native peoples

For more books like Erdrich's CHICKADEE, see the website American Indians in Children's Literature, published by Debbie Reese (me), and the list of books in November, School Library Journal: http://www.slj.com/2013/11/collection-development/focus-on-collection-development/resources-and-kid-lit-about-american-indians-focus-on/

I've always thought that NYPL

I've always thought that NYPL has a great children`s book collection, and I think it is great how the library responds to its patrons requests. If you don`t see a book you think should be there, just ask them to add it to the shelves.

Engaging Children With Poetry

I loved the Library's amazing exhibit on the history of children's picture books. I attended twice last year and I was dazzled. I came across your blog above by happy accident, via the Eric Carle Museum's Facebook page. I’m taking the liberty of reaching out to tell you about my efforts to amplify the haiku legacy of my late mom, Sydell Rosenberg, a gifted American haiku poet and NY public school teacher who passed away in 1996. According to a recent NY comptroller’s report, overall, funding for arts education has been reduced. It’s a distressing state of affairs. But this small, personal effort I have undertaken may interest you: Syd was a charter member of the Haiku Society of America, founded in 1968 in the city (it still exists today). She wrote other poetry as well as short stories and puzzles, and translated Spanish literature as well, but I think haiku (and senryu) were her favorite creative writing formats. I want some of her work to live for today’s audiences – especially children. I know that my mom wanted to publish a haiku picture book – an A-B-C reader. She never fulfilled this particular dream, although she was well-anthologized and appreciated in her circle. In my idiosyncratic way, I am making some strides in sharing her work with young audiences: I have just concluded the second Sydell Rosenberg-Arts For All haiku/art workshop series for second-graders at P.S.163 in the Bronx, in which haiku are paired with drawing and painting. The first program took place in the fall of 2013. Another program is also underway at P.S. 163: a haiku/music workshop series for English as a Second Language students in second grade. I attended a couple of sessions, and they are delightful. The music teachers from the nonprofit Arts For All, my partner, have devised an inventive way to connect my mom’s haiku to melody and rhythm, with the words serving as the verses. The children are helping to construct the melody and even their own haiku “lyrics.” From the spring 2014 haiku/art class, I have photos of the pictures the children painted and drew. I hope to arrange them into an album. Arts For All (arts-for-all.org) created a keepsake book as a thank you from the first haiku/art workshop series, so in a way, mom now has her picture book! The cover art, and the pictures inside (all made by second graders), are based on the following haiku and I love how the words reinforce the images, and vice-versa. Haiku, with its compact and concise format, which is so richly evocative – and of course, poetry in general – can expand the scope of kids’ imaginations and help them make creative connections, as well as help nurture an appreciation of wordplay and metaphor. In closing, please permit me to share this noteworthy article on TakePart.com about the importance of teaching poetry in schools. The program I co-created with Arts For All is featured and I am quoted. If you wish to read additional selections of my mom’s haiku and senryu, let me know. Thank you for the opportunity to contact you about my endeavors. http://www.takepart.com/article/2014/04/16/why-its-important-teach-poetry-schools Prodding a fall leaf after the rain — sparrow in a new puddle. Traffic-wise cat crosses the street for better prey – suburban lunch hour. Against the blue sky a green parrot on a dead branch. Crossing the wide sky a blue jay is held briefly in the window square. For a moment one circling round each other two white butterflies. When the sun came out my turtle climbed on a rock and conjured a view.

Fabulous list—thank you!

Fabulous list—thank you!

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