The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators

New Releases and backlist titles showing excellence in diversity, read and collected over 30 years in reviewing children's books 

Like Sisters on the Homefront, by Rita Williams-Garcia, Quill Tree Books; Reprint Edition (paperback, 2019), 9780062823922

Age: 14+, Mature Readers

Genre/BISAC: Juvenile Fiction, Teen & Young Adult'  Multigenerational Family Fiction, Self Esteem & Reliance, Coming of Age, Teen Pregnancy, Tough Issues, African-American Experience, Racism, Injustice, 

Powerful powerful book! Definitely real. Definitely for mature readers. Contemporary realistic fiction with a touch of paranormal which I just love. This book showed to me the immensity and the power and the outrage of the African-American experience. A multigenerational book, Gayle is sent from New York to Georgia, to live with her minister uncle, goody-goody cousin Cookie, and also Great, the Family Matriarch and "keeper of the family story."  Powerfully significant! As the story unfolds we learn the immensity of the person chosen to be keeper of the family stories. And it has always been expected that Cookie would be next. But when it comes time for Great to be called home to her people, it is Gayle who is there. Gayle is called upon to turn the mirrors and memorize the stories of her ancestors back to slave times, each person represented with an object such as a shell. A scene so utterly powerful, I cried. (For the record: I can get emotional over books.)

Shared during SCSBWI-IN's Diversity Day, "Writing Outside Your Lane," Sept. 12, 2020

What makes a book "diverse?" Mirrors and Windows

  • Books that emphasize different cultures, fiction and nonfiction.
  • Books where children can "see themselves," or "look in the mirror."
  • Books about the lives of others, where kids see others "out their window. 
  • Diverse books can be nonfiction, as in biographies and books about the civil rights movement.
  • In addition to nonfiction, more diverse books are needed that just show regular kids in everyday situations, like the Furry Family Series, published by Capstone.
  • Reading as a child opened my eyes to injustice in the world, beginning at age 8 after reading Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry...

 

In the Garden, Picture Book Nonfiction

Whether for yourself or a gift, the cool crafts, activities, and ways to be kind will keep “giving” long after you finish reading the book. With 125 kind things to do and say, like learning to say hello in several languages, being the first to say “good morning,” or helping someone without being asked. Bright, uplifting illustrations wrap around unique activities and clever ways to better the world Talk about a gift that keeps on giving, this book is a must-read for everyone, any age, who loves “paying it forward,” sibs, teachers, babysitters, and more. Will help people think of ideas and easy ways to be nice to other people for no reason at all.  Learn more @NaomiShulman and @StoreyPublishing.

Hike, written and illustrated by Pete Oswald, Candlewick, 2020, 9781536201574, *NEW RELEASE*, Age: Preschool-3

Genre/BISAC: Picture book fiction, father and son fiction, nature, hiking, Earth Day
An example of a diverse picture book showing a regular day, regular story, relevant to all. Gorgeous illustrations with very few words make this book excellent for very young children. In the cool and quiet early light of morning, a father and child wake up. Today they’re going on a hike. Illustrations make "diversity" organic to the story, with a simply fantastic day shared between a father and his son. 

In the Garden, written and illustrated by Emma Giuliani, Princeton Architectural Press, 2020, 9781616898939 (Illustrated Ed), *NEW RELEASE*, Age: 3-7

Genre/BISAC: Picture book nonfiction, gardening, art, interactive art, lift-the-flaps

From season to season, children follow the life of a garden as each page reveals new treasures hiding under lift-up flaps. Peek inside the curious tulip bulb and discover the peas inside a peapod. Watch a ladybug help with pesky aphids and search for ripe strawberries under the leaves. Another fun book and utter work of art, with illustrations showing diversity and making organic to the story. This oversize book is great for classroom use, Earth Day themes, spring planting, seasons, and guaranteed to be enjoyed by adult readers. Young children will love the interactive pages, but may need to wait until age 3 or the book may be destroyed on the first day you bring it home. Highly recommended! 

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor, Dial Books; 40th Anniversary ed. Edition (2016), 9781101993880

Age: 8-12 with crossover for older readers

Genre/BISAC: Historical Fiction, Children's 1900s American Historical Fiction, Racism Books, African-American Experience, The Great Depression

Read at age 8, this book opened my eyes to injustice in the world, and I finished reading and thought, "How can this be?" Set in Mississippi during the Depression, this is Cassie's story, at a time of great racism and social injustice. First published in 1977, Winner of the Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award, and this year (2020) author Mildred Taylor was honored with the Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. 

Be Kind: You Can Make the World a Happier Place! 125 Kind Things to Say and Do, by Naomi Shulman, illustrated by Hsinping Pan, Storey Publishing, $12.99, Age: preschool-3, All Ages9781635861549
Genre: Picture Book Nonfiction, Inspirational, Activities, Gift Book, Values

Diversity: Books of excellence for all ages

Hike, Picture Book Fiction
We Need Diverse Books
Multicultural Children's Book Day

Juana and Lucas: written by Juana Medina, Candlewick; 2016, 9780763672089
Juana loves many things — drawing, eating Brussels sprouts, living in Bogotá, Colombia, and especially her dog, Lucas, the best amigo ever. She does not love wearing her itchy school uniform, solving math problems, or going to dance class. And she especially does not love learning the English. Why is it so important to learn a language that makes so little sense? But when Juana’s abuelos tell her about a special trip they are planning—one that Juana will need to speak English to go on—Juana begins to wonder whether learning the English might be a good use of her time after all. Hilarious, energetic, and utterly relatable, Juana will win over los corazones — the hearts — of readers everywhere in her first adventure, presented by namesake Juana Medina.

The Little Match Girl, by Hans Christian Andersen, illustrated by, Jerry Pinkney, Puffin Books, 2002, 9780142301883 (Illustrated Ed)
The luminous art of three-time Caldecott Honor recipient Jerry Pinkney transforms the nineteenth-century Danish girl of Andersen's tale into a child plucked straight from America's melting pot, shedding new light on the invisibility of the poor among the prosperous-a circumstance as familiar in Andersen's day as it is in our own.

A Ring Of Tricksters: Animal Tales From America, the West Indies And Africa, written by Virgina Hamilton and illustrated by Barry Moser, Blue Sky Press, 1997. 9780590473743 (First Ed)
Collected tales from three rich traditions of storytelling, following the migration of stories via the slave trade during the Plantation Era and highlighting such characters as Bruh Fox, Anansi Spider, and Cunnie Rabbi.

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales: written by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith, Viking Books For Young Readers, 1992,  9780670844876 (New Ed Edition)
The entire book, with its unconventional page arrangement and eclectic, frenetic mix of text and pictures, is a spoof on the art of book design and the art of the fairy tale. The individual tales, such as The Really Ugly Duckling and Little Red Running Shorts, can be extracted for telling aloud, with great success. Another masterpiece from the team that created The True Story of the Three Little Pigs!

Heart And Soul: The Story Of America And African Americans, written by Kadir Nelson, Turtleback Books; Bound for Schools & Libraries ed, 2013, 978-0606350501
Kadir Nelson's Heart and Soulwinner of numerous awards, including the 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Award and Illustrator Honor, and the recipient of five starred reviews, now featuring eight pages of discussion and curriculum material. This story of America and African-Americans is a one of hope, inspiration and unwavering courage.

A Kite for Moon, written by Jane Yolen, Heidi E.Y. Stemple and illustrated by Matt Phelan, Zonderkidz, 2019, 9780310756422
A Kite for Moon is the perfect children’s book to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first United States moon landing. Written by New York Times bestselling author of How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? Jane Yolen and her daughter, Heidi Stemple, this book is a heartfelt story about a young boy’s fascination and unlikely friendship with the moon.

The Gettysburg Address, by Sam Fink (Illustrator) and Gabor Borritt (Introduction), Welcome Books, 2007, 9781599620381 (1st Ed)
Originally published by Random House in a black-and-white edition in 1994, Sam Fink is returning to The Gettysburg Address to bring out this full-color edition, complete with original illustrations and hand-lettering. Taking the address phrase by phrase, Sam Fink has highlighted through his artwork the essence of Lincoln's words and spirit on that day in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1863. Lincoln's address is also accompanied by additional quotes concerning rights and liberty, which are set on facing pages and illustrated with Sam Fink's incredible artistry.

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager, by Ben Philippe, Balzer + Bray, 2020, 9780062824127 ((Paperback Reprint Ed)
A hilarious YA contemporary realistic novel about a witty Black French Canadian teen who moves to Austin, Texas, and experiences the joys, clichés, and awkward humiliations of the American high school experience—including falling in love. 

The Prince and the Dressmaker, written by Jen Wang, First Second, 2018, 978-1626723634

The White City: Book 3 of The Clockwork Dark, written by John Claude Bemis, Random House Books for Young Readers,  978-0375855689
The Nine Pound Hammer Book 1 of The Clockwork Dark, epic fantasy and twist on American mythology and lore, including characters such as John Henry. Now in the third and final book, the heroes come together at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago for a final confrontation with a businessman and tycoon who is in fact an ageless evil known as the Gog. 

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors, written by Francisco X. Stork, Arthur A. Levine Books, 978-0545151337 (1st Ed)

Countdown (The Sixties Trilogy) by Deborah Wiles, Scholastic Press; 1st Edition, 2010, 9780545106054
Franny Chapman just wants some peace. But that's hard to get when her best friend is feuding with her, her sister has disappeared, and her uncle is fighting an old war in his head. Her saintly younger brother is no help, and the cute boy across the street only complicates things. Worst of all, everyone is walking around just waiting for a bomb to fall.

The Worst Class Trip Ever, written by Dave Barry, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2015, 9781484708491
In this hilarious novel, written in the voice of eighth-grader Wyatt Palmer, Dave Barry takes us on a class trip to Washington, DC. Wyatt, his best friend, Matt, and a few kids from Culver Middle School find themselves in a heap of trouble-not just with their teachers, who have long lost patience with them -- but from several mysterious men they first meet on their flight to the nation's capital. In a fast-paced adventure with the monuments as a backdrop, the kids try to stay out of danger and out of the doghouse while trying to save the president from attack-or maybe not

Jericho Walls, by Kristi Collier, Henry Holt and Co., 2002, 9780805065213, (1st Ed)
A beautifully written story about the power of friendship in the face of racism.

M.C. Higgins, The Great, written by By Virginia Hamilton, Turtleback Books; Turtleback School & Library, 2006, 9781417753086 
As a slag heap, the result of strip mining, creeps closer to his house in the Ohio hills, 15-year-old M.C. is torn between trying to get his family away and fighting for the home they love. A Newbery Medal Winner & ALA Notable Children's Book in a school and library edition with materials for classroom use.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, written by M.T. Anderson, Candlewick, 2006, 9780763624026 (Vol I: The Pox Party)
National Book Award Winner! This deeply provocative novel reimagines the past as an eerie place that has startling resonance for readers today.

This or That? What Will You Choose at the British Museum? Written by Pippa Goodhart, illustrated by The Trustees of the British Museum, Nosy Crow, 2020, 978-1536212235
What will you choose: a horn or a harp? Perhaps you’re more interested in different forms of transportation: would you prefer a boat or a hot-air balloon? The possibilities are endless and the choice is yours. Featuring hundreds of artifacts from the British Museum, this is a book readers will pore over time and time again.

Solo written by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess, Blink; 2017, 978-0310761839, 1st Edition
“A rhythmic, impassioned ode to family, identity, and the history of rock and roll.” —Booklist, starred review

Return To Augie Hobble by Lane Smith, Turtleback; Bound for Schools & Libraries, 2017, 9780606385503
New Mexico middle-schooler Augie Hobble grapples with adolescence, paranormal mysteries, an overdue Creative Arts project, and heartbreaking loss while working his father's theme park, Fairy Tale Place.

The Truth of Me by Patricia MacLachlan, Katherine Tegen Books, 2013, 9780061998591
Patricia MacLachlan, Newbery Medal–winning author of Sarah, Plain and Tall, weaves a poignant story that celebrates how our unique "small truths" make each of us magical and brave in our own ways.

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer written by Kelly Jones, illustrated by Katie Kath, Knopf Books for Young Readers, 978-0385755528
"Someone has finally written a real honest-to-goodness novel with chickens!  This news will excite people who like novels, people who like chickens...and chickens.  It is an unusual book!"
--Daniel Pinkwater, author of The Hoboken Chicken Emergency, and pioneer of chicken-lit.

Some Kind of Courage written by Dan Gemeinhart, Scholastic Press, 2016, 978-0545665773 
The critically acclaimed author of The Honest Truth returns with a poignant, hopeful, and action-packed story about hearts that won't be tamed... and spirits that refuse to be broken.

Al Capone Shines My Shoes written by Gennifer Choldenko, Turtleback Books; 2011, 978-0606230728
Living on Alcatraz in 1935 with his family and father who is employed as a guard, Moose decides to write prisoner Al Capone a note to see if he could use his influence to get his sister into the school of her dreams. When he receives a note asking for a favor in return, Moose realizes he has gotten in over his head.

Dave at Night written by Gail Carson Levine, Scholastic Press, 2016, 978-0545665773
When orphaned Dave is sent to the Hebrew Home for Boys where he is treated cruelly, he sneaks out at night and is welcomed into the music- and culture-filled world of the Harlem Renaissance.en.

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, HarperCollins, 2017, 978-0062658777
“The book is packed with humor and affection and is an odyssey of unexpected twists and surprising conclusions.” (1995 Newbery Award Selection Committee.)

Stella by Starlight written by Sharon M. Draper illustrated by Sarah Jane Coleman, Turtleback Books, 2016, 978-0606382557
When the Ku Klux Klan's unwelcome reappearance rattles Stella's segregated southern town, bravery battles prejudice in this Depression-era tour de force from Sharon Draper, the New York Times bestselling author of Out of My Mind.

The Trumpet of the Swan written by E. B. White, illustrated by Fred Marcellino, HarperCollins, 2001, 978-0060289355
The delightful classic by E. B. White, author of Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, about overcoming obstacles and the joy of music. This edition features Fred Marcellino's gorgeous illustrations in full color!

The Ear, The Eye, And The Arm written by Nancy Farmer, Turtleback Books; Bound for Schools & Libraries, 2012, 978-0606239448
In 2194 in Zimbabwe, General Matsika's three children are kidnapped and put to work in a plastic mine while three mutant detectives use their special powers to search for them.

A Girl Named Disaster written by Nancy Farmer, Turtleback Books, 2012, 978-0606383653
While fleeing from Mozambique to Zimbabwe to escape an unwanted marriage, Nhamo, an eleven-year-old Shona girl, struggles to escape drowning and starvation and comes close to the luminous world of the African spirits.

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books, 2002, 978-0439579292
Matteo Alacrán was not born; he was harvested.
His DNA came from El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium--a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and what was once called Mexico. Matt's first cell split and divided inside a petri dish. Then he was placed in the womb of a cow, where he continued the miraculous journey from embryo to fetus to baby. He is a boy now, but most consider him a monster--except for El Patrón. El Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself, because Matt is himself.

Write Yourself a Lantern: A Journal Inspired by The Poet X written by Elizabeth Acevedo, HarperCollins, 2020,  9780062982278

A Winter’s Promise: Book One of The Mirror Visitor Quartet written by Christelle Dabos,  Europa Editions, 2018, 978-1609454838
The Missing of Clairdelune: Book Two of The Mirror Visitor Quartet written by Christelle Dabos, Europa Editions, 2019, 9781609455071
The Memory of Babel: Book Three of The Mirror Visitor Quartet written by Christelle Dabos, Europa Editions,  2020, 9781609456139

Letters to the person i was written by Sana Abuleil, illustrated by Brando Pedro, Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2020, 9781524854041
The Phantom Tollbooth written by Norton Juster, illustrated by Jules Feiffer, Random House, 1989, 9780394815008
The Book Thief written by Markus Zusak, illustrated by Trudy White,  Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2007, 9780375842207
Devastation Class written by Glen Zipper & Elaine Mongeon, Blink, 2020, 9780310769002

My Brother Abe: Sally Lincoln’s Story: written by Harry Mazer, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2009, 9781416938842, 
Hero On A Bicycle, written by Shirley Hughes, Candlewick, 2017, 9780763697785
Prairie Lotus written by Linda Sue Park, Clarion Books, 2020, 9781328781505

Chains (The Seeds of America Trilogy) written by Laurie Halse Anderson, Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2008, 9781416905851
Forge (The Seeds of America Trilogy) written by Laurie Halse Anderson, Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2010, 9781416961444
Ashes (The Seeds of America Trilogy) written by Laurie Halse Anderson, Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2016, 9781416961468

Summer in the City (Volume 2)(Mango Delight) written by Fracaswell Hyman, Sterling Children's Books, 2020, 9781454933946

Ways to Make Sunshine  written by Renée Watson, illustrated by Nina Mata, Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2020, 9781547600564
Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero written by Kelly J. Baptist, Crown Books for Young Readers, 2020, 9780593121368
The Time of Green Magic written by HILARY MCKAY, MacMillan Childrens Books, 2019, 9781529019261
 A Nearer Moon  written by Melanie Crowder, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016, 9781481441490
A Wish in the Dark written by Christina Soontornvat, Candlewick, 2020,  9781536204940
Cloud and Wallfish written by  Anne Nesbet, Candlewick, 2018, 9781536201833
City Spies (1) written by James Ponti, Aladdin, 2020, 9781534414914

Internment written by Samira Ahmed, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2019, 9780316522694
The Girl Who Drank the Moon  written by Kelly Barnhill, Algonquin Young Readers, 2019,  9781616207465
A Girl, a Raccoon, and the Midnight Moon, written by Karen Romano Young, illustrated by Jessixa Bagley, Chronicle Books, 2020,  9781452169521
The Manga Artist's Workbook: Easy-to-Follow Lessons for Creating Your Own Characters written and illustrated by Christopher Hart, Potter Style, 2009,  9780307462701
They Went Left written by Monica Hesse, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2020,  9780316490573

Suggested Reading written by Dave Connis, Katherine Tegen Books, 2019, 9780062685254
The Summer We Found the Baby written by Amy Hest, illustrated by Jamey Christoph, Candlewick, 2020, 9780763660079

Being Toffee written by Sarah Crossan, Bloomsbury YA, 2020,  9781547603299
Never Look Back written by Lilliam Rivera,  Bloomsbury YA, 2020,  9781547603732
The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea written by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, illustrated by Rita Csizmadia, Candlewick, 2020,  9781536204315
The Favorite Book written and illustrated by  Bethanie Deeney Murguia, Candlewick, 2019, 9781536204469,
A Stone Sat Still written and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel, Chronicle Books, 2019, 9781452173184
The Heart of a Whale written and illustrated by Anna Pignataro, Philomel Books,  2020,  9781984836274
A Fire Like You written by Upile Chisala, Andrews McMeel Publishing
The Poetry Remedy: Prescriptions for the Heart, Mind, and Soul written by William Sighart, Viking
Letters to the Person I Was written by Sana Abuleil, Andrews McMeel Publishing
The Blue Day Book: a Lesson in Cheering Yourself Up written by Rabdley Trevor Greive, illustrated by Claire Keane
Mixed Feelings: Poems and Stories written by Avan Jogia, Andrews McMeel Publishing
You Can’t Kill Me Twice (So Please Treat Me Right) written by Charlyne Yi, Andrews McMeel Publishing
What is Poetry? The Essential Guide to Reading & Writing Poems written by Michael Rosen, CandleWick Press 
Unfollowing You written by Komal Kapoor, Andrews McMeel Publishing
To Drink Coffee With a Ghost, written by Amanda Lovelace, Andrews McMeel Publishing
Apologies That Never Came written by Dierre Alex Jeanty, Andrews McMeel Publishing
Between You & These Bones written by F. D. Soul, Andrews McMeel Publishing
Miracle in the Mundane: Poems, Prompts, and Inspiration to Unlock Your Creativity and Unfiltered Joy written by Tyler Knott Gregson, Teacherperigee

Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners written by Naomi Shihab Nye, Greenwillow Books
Summary: Ninety-five poems pay tribute to essential voices past and present that have the power to provoke us, lead us, and give us hope.

Book Love written by Debbie Tung, Andrews McMeel Publishing
Twenty Two: Letters to a Young Woman Searching for Meaning written by Allison Trowbridge, Nelson Books
Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc written by David Elliott, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers
Tomorrow’s Women written by Greta Bellamacina, Andrews McMeel Publishing
Brave the Page: A Young Writer’s Guide to Telling Epic Stories written by Rebecca Stern & Grant Faulker, Random Penguin House
Raising World Changers in a Changing World: How One Family discovered the Beauty of Sacrifice and the Joy of Giving written by Kristen Welch, BakerBooks
How to Graduate Debt Free: The Best Strategies to Pay for College written by Kristina Ellis, Worthy Publishing

spotlights:

Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry

The Best Kind of Bear, by Greg Gormley, illustrated by David Barrow, Nosy Crow, Nov. 12, 2019, $16.99, Ages 2-5,

BISAC: Juvenile Fiction, Social Themes, Diversity, Encouragement, Acceptance, Kindness, Tolerance, Love, Uniqueness, Self-Realization, Libraries, Book Love

Storey Publishing
Storey Publishing
Like Sisters on the Homefront

Every great story begins in the library, where Bear meets a girl named Nelly. She asked him what kind of bear he was, and he had already been there (looking through books) to figure that out. He sets off to find some other bears, and promises to return and let Nelly know. He discovers other bears but returns discouraged, until Nelly helps Bear realize he is already the best kind of bear. I absolutely love this book, as Bear travels the world we meet other species and can’t help learning tidbits about each animal.