Showing Kids Normal, Not Diversity, in Picture Books

Our children love to read books. We are extremely proud that they beg to go to the library each week to fill their book bags with books. We love that they cheer when it’s reading time and ask for more stories. We love watching books spur their imaginations, and understanding of the world.

We use our library trips to find books that feature kids of color and multiracial families. We believe so much in having books that feature multiracial families and families of color that we started our own publishing company, Loving Lion Books.

To reinforce how beautiful and normal it is to see all shades of skin color, we talk about how beautiful the skin and looks of families are “Oh, I love her beautiful brown skin and curly hair” or “Look, this little guy has gorgeous Asian skin.”

We see children’s books as a way for our kids to see images of people who look like them and doing healthy, wonderful things. We know that these stories and images will contribute to a strong sense of racial identity for our children.

We don’t spend as much time pointing out white skin because, as the book NurtureShock, by Ashley Merryman and Po Bronson points out, the message that white skin is beautiful is everywhere and doesn’t need to be strongly enforced.

Our home library and our children’s library books do contain a lot of stories that only feature white children and white families.  The majority of children’s books published and existing today still largely feature white families. When we read them we sometimes point out that it’s strange not to see families of color in the community the book is showing or we talk about how our family is different and similar to the family in the book.

Given that over half of children born in the US today are not white, it doesn’t feel right to have so many books that reflect a primarily white world and we want to call that out for our children.

Our hope is not to highlight diversity our hope is to highlight normal – lots of people with different families, different religions, different backgrounds, living happy, loving lives.

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