Two years ago, First Book partnered with the NEA Foundation and Lee & Low Books to expand the Stories for All Project™, First Book’s initiative to increase the diversity in children’s books.
As a continuation of our shared commitment to ensuring that diverse, inclusive books are both abundant and affordable, the NEA Foundation and First Book, with generous funding from the NEA Foundation, launched in April special paperback editions of four titles previously only available in hardcover as part of the Many Cultures, One Community book and resource collection available on the First Book Marketplace, bringing the number of books in this diverse curated collection to eight*.
In addition to launching the eight paperback editions, the NEA Foundation and First Book have partnered with Lee & Low Books to publish a brand-new book by a never-before-published author of color; worked with gold-standard content partners to create resource guides for educators that lift up important themes from every book in the collection; and enable educators in the First Book network to access these brand-new books and resources at even greater discounts – or for free – through funding from the NEA Foundation.
Each new book in the collection is paired with a reading guide that highlights themes related to diversity and inclusion, including:
- Cultural Appreciation
- Maintaining Cultural Traditions
- Extended Family
- Helping Others
- Understanding Different Cultures
Created with experts from Cook Ross, a national leader in diversity and inclusion training, these book and resource pairings give educators and their students the opportunity for thoughtful discussion and creative exploration around critical topics. Click here to download all the guides in one document.
Researchers have found that children’s literature reflecting multiethnic cultures told by authentic voices can have a powerful impact on the central elements of social and emotional learning – enhancing empathy toward others as well as interest in reading and academic performance. Yet there is a marked lack of diverse content in children’s books—according to the Children’s Cooperative Book Center, out of more than 3,000 children’s books reviewed in 2016 only eight percent featured African-American characters; seven percent featured Asian-Pacific Americans, less than five percent featured Latin or Hispanic characters and just one percent featured Native Americans.
We hope these brand-new resources and high-quality books will help educators discuss the importance of diversity and inclusion, create welcoming school, classroom, and program environments for every child, and demonstrate that there are truly many cultures in one community.
*Current titles include Juna’s Jar, Lend a Hand: Poems About Giving, Finding the Music: En Pos de la Música (English and Spanish), Sunday Shopping, Ghosts for Breakfast, Bird, Seaside Dream, and Hot Hot Roti for Dada-ji. The Wind Called My Name, by Mary Louise Sanchez, winner of the NEAF-funded Lee & Low New Visions Award, will be added to the collection in August. The New Visions Award is given every year to a previously unpublished author of color.