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RE 3240 World Literature for Children (Online): Evaluating Diversity

Selecting Anti-Bias Children's Books

1.    Check the illustrations (for elements like stereotypes, tokenism, and the invisibility of certain groups or kinds of people).

2.    Check the story line and the relationships between people. (How are power relationships handled? How are problems presented and resolved? Who needs help and who is in a leadership role? Who causes problems and who solves them?)

3.    Look at messages about different lifestyles (e.g., are there negative value judgments about lifestyles that differ from the dominant culture or class?).

4.    Consider the effects on children’s self and social identities (e.g., will children be able to find themselves represented in a positive and powerful light?).

5.    Look for books about children and adults engaging in actions for change. (Do books show people from various situations and characteristics as able change makers?)

6.    Consider the author’s or illustrator’s background & perspective. (Are they writing about something they know? Is their bias in their worldview?)

7.    Watch for loaded words. (Are words demeaning? Do they make certain people invisible?)

8.    Look at the copyright date. (Older books tend to reflect values of the time, which may not reflect current relevance or sensitivity.)

9.    Assess the quality and appeal of the book to youth. (Is the book age-appropriate and a good read?)

Evaluating Nonfiction

For topics about history, countries, cultures, etc.

  • Who is telling the story? Who is left out? 

  • Are there stereotypes or inaccurate information?

For general nonfiction topics

  • Do the illustrations and photographs provide diverse or balanced representation?

Go beyond popular histories, holidays, and food.

Seek out books on marginalized experiences, non-normative identities, and “sensitive” topics.

Education Librarian

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Jewel Davis
Belk Library IMC Room 033