#Road2Reading Challenge: Where are the diverse books?

All journeys have a starting place.
This is a weekly place to find books and tools
that you may use with readers at the start of their reading journey.
Join in the conversation at #road2reading.

Each week, Michele Knott and I post about new early readers and transitional chapter books.  This week my post is tied into a recent event that I was a part of at a local bookstore.

On Sunday, I had the wonderful opportunity to be on a panel with author, Linda Sue Park and editor, Zareen Jaffrey. The panel was moderated by Jessica Palacios and hosted by Once Upon a Time Bookstore in Montrose, California. 

The focus of the panel was Diversity and Inclusion in Children's Literature. One of the questions asked dealt with where we still saw gaps. We each had different areas that we identified but one of the areas that I failed to mention was diversity in books for beginning readers. We are improving slowly in lots of areas but we still have a long way to go, especially in the area of early readers and transitional chapter books. 

There are a lot of talking animals in early readers and transitional chapter books. There are also talking robots and lots more talking animals and lots, and lots of white children. What we don't have is a lot of is children from diverse backgrounds with stories that authentically represent their lives. Linda Sue Park encouraged those who attended the panel to buy and read more diverse books in order for publishers to know that we not only want these stories but we also will buy them. 

Here are a few titles to start with if you are looking for more diversity in your Early Reader/Transitional Chapter Book collection. 

Book Uncle and Me
by Uma Krishnaswami; Illustrations by Julianna Swaney
Groundwood Books (September 1, 2016)
Fiction * People & Places * Asia

This transitional chapter book is set in India and features a young girl who loves to read, and a former teacher who now runs a lending library. When the lending library is in jeopardy of being shut down, Yasmin and her friends learn about how to advocate and make a difference. Krishnaswami may have chosen to set her story in India, but the themes of the book are very universal.  

Juana & Lucas 
by Juana Medina
Candlewick Press (September 27, 2016)
Fiction * People & Places * Latin America

From India, we travel around the world to Bogotá, Colombia, where we meet Juana and her dog, Lucas. Young readers get a glimpse into the life of a child living in another country and can find common ground in many of Juana's daily activities and experiences. The author includes a number of Spanish words and phrases, as well as, shares with readers Juana's struggle to learn English. Though this book appears to be for early readers, it does assume a certain level of reading skill placing it closer to transitional chapter books for reading skills. 

Ling & Ting: Together in All Weather
by Grace Lin
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (November 3, 2015)
Fiction * Siblings * Family

Though I have never thought about where, as in what country, Ling & Ting takes place, there is a universal connection for readers with the experiences that these siblings share in each story. In the span of four short chapters, readers see Ling & Ting engaging in a seasonal activity.  

What are some of your favorite diverse early readers and chapter books?

Don't forget to check out Michele's post and to link your #Road2Reading posts here....