Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cross-Group Books

In, "How Cross-Racial Scenes in Picture Books Build Acceptance," the piece Krista Aronson and I co-authored for the online version of School Library Journal's Diversity issue, we presented an overview of research demonstrating that children's books depicting positive cross-racial interactions could reduce prejudicial attitudes.

Here is the list of books we identified that portray friendship and fun between characters of different races. (The first racial group listed is that of the point-of-view and/or interaction-initiating character.)

Bein' Friends by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by Joy Allen (White/Black)

Bein’ With You This Way by W. Nikola-Lisa, illustrated by Michael Bryant  (Black/Multiracial)

Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco (White/Black)

Come On, Rain by Karen Hesse, illustrated by Jon J. Muth -  (Black/Asian/White)

How Do You Wokka-Wokka? by Elizabeth Blumele, illustrated by Randy Cecil (Black/Multiracial)

Jamaica is Thankful by Juanita Havill, illustrated by Anne Sibley O’Brien (Black/White) 
[All seven Jamaica titles portray cross-race relationships, but this title best fulfills the cross-group criteria.]

Lottie Paris and the Best Place by Angela Johnson, illustrated by Scott M. Fischer (Black/White)

My Friend Jamal by Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Ben Frey (White non-Muslim/Somali Muslim); see also My Friend Mei Jing.

Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka (Black/White)

The ideal cross-group book emphasizes the fun diverse children are having together, the activities they do together and the things they have in common. Any other titles to suggest?


Sheila said...


I do have one charming book to add to your list, and it has an interesting history that's relevant to this whole discussion. THE GOOD-BY DAY by Leone Castell Anderson is about a strong friendship between two little girls of different races. It was published by Golden Books and is featured in Leonard Marcus's book about the history of Golden Books.
The first edition of this book depicted both children on the cover, one black, one white. When a new addition came out, the title was changed to MOVING DAY, and the black girl was no longer on the cover. The interior illustrations were not changed. This was obviously a marketing decision that cost Golden Books a fair amount of money, I'm sure. Whether this change did actually improve sales, I don't know. But it points out the whole cover controversy that's been discussed in terms of lack of dark-skinned characters on dust jackets and covers of YA novels. Here are a couple of links to Leone Anderson's book:

Thanks for the list, Anne.

Diane T said...

I'd add a couple of books by Jacqui Robbins, especially The New Girl ....and Me:

Anne Sibley O'Brien said...

Thanks for the titles, Sheila and Diane. Please keep adding as you find them.

Anonymous said...

I was happy to see Lulu acquire an African-American friend in the new book Ladybug girl and the Best Ever Playdate by David Soman and Jacky Davis