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TCH 208 - Reading and Language Development

Analyzing Book Quality - Diverse Book Finder

The website, Diverse Book Finder aims to aid people in thinking critically not just about what and who are represented in books but also how. Currently a searchable database of books for K-3rd grade with Black, Indigenous, or People of Color characters; books are tagged with themes which identify: categories, ethnicity, awards, settings, content, genres, tribal affiliation/homelands, race/culture, immigration status, gender, religion, and character prominence. This can be used to think about intersectional representation as well as the type of diverse representation in a book.

Some titles you search in Diverse Book Finder will have been tagged with these categories, like in the example of A House for Every Bird below:

Example Search Result in Diverse Book Finder

But many titles are not currently in Diverse Book Finder, although it it constantly expanding coverage. Regardless, the way they categorize books can reveal key details to help us evaluate our book selections. You can use a similar process to guide your thinking when looking at books. In particular, their categories which address how diverse characters are represented in a story are crucial to thinking about inclusivity. They use nine book categories to define the kind of story being told. These are:

  1.  Any Child - Books featuring BIPOC in which race, ethnicity, tribal affiliation, culture, im/migration, and/or religious, sacred, or origin stories are not central to the story. These elements may be present, but they are not essential to the plot and could be changed without altering the storyline. 
  2. Beautiful Life: A Focus on Identity - Books featuring BIPOC in which race, ethnicity, tribal affiliation, culture, im/migration, and/or religious, sacred, or origin stories are central to the story. These books explicitly focus on the diverse expressions of human experience, depending on these elements to drive the storyline. 
  3. Biography - Narrative nonfiction books about the life of a particular person or group of people from a historical or contemporary perspective. 
  4. Cross-Group: Relationships Across Difference - Books portraying relationships between main or secondary characters across racial or cultural difference, including but not limited to those depicting peer group and cross-generational friendships. The interactions depicted may be positive, negative, or resolving. 
  5. Folklore - Books featuring tales, proverbs, songs, or legends/myths that transmit the values, knowledge, traditions, practices/rituals of a people. These do not include religious, foundational, or origin stories, or indigenous traditional or sacred stories (see Beautiful Life above). 
  6. Incidental: Ensemble or Background Characters - Books featuring a racially diverse cast of non-primary characters; or books featuring a white or animal main character(s) with BIPOC as secondary or background characters. 
  7. Informational: Factual Content  - Narrative books, with or without a storyline, presenting factual information; may be encyclopedic. BIPOC are depicted but race/culture is not always central to the content. 
  8. Oppression & Resilience - Books about group-based injustice and struggles for justice. These include stories about BIPOC who experience and/or resist enslavement, internment, imprisonment, or violent conflict; persecution in or forced displacement from their homelands; or barriers to basic freedoms such as land, food, housing, education, health & wellness, and bodily autonomy. 
  9. Race/Culture Concepts: Examining Difference and Commonalities - Books that explore and/or compare specific aspects of human difference, inviting readers to consider varying perspectives related to race, ethnicity, culture, or tribal affiliation. 

When considering a picture book with one or more diverse characters the kind of story being told impacts how it acts as a window, mirror, or sliding glass door. For your books, consider which category(ies) it would fit and what the impact of that is.