Looking for children's 'interracial books'?

Posted by Ria, 23 Jan 15

Are you a parent of interracial children? Do you find books for children on interracial families or being mixed race?

Well apparently its quite a depressing experience trying to find such books in the children's section at book stores, says Nevin Martell. Martell is multiracial with a wife from Ghana, Africa. The couple has always been looking for books that have stories featuring characters that their interracial son can visually identify with. "Hey, that little guy looks like me," kind of thing. "Sadly, he doesn’t get to do that very often," says Martell in his article "Where are all the interracial children’s books?"

Given the number of interracial families, one would expect more interracial literature... especially those featuring mixed race family scenarios. Martell says:

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What are you looking for?

This isn’t to say that there aren’t any children’s books starring interracial characters. There are some wonderful options, including “Black, White, Just Right!” by Marguerite W. Davol and illustrated by Irene Trivas, “Black is Brown is Tan” by Arnold Adoff with illustrations by Emily Arnold McCully and Phil Mandelbaum’s “You Be Me, I’ll Be You.” A current favorite is “The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage,” which chronicles the 1967 Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia, in which a biracial couple successfully challenged the state’s law against interracial marriage.

There are however some helpful resources online. For instance, Brown Baby Reads, a Chicago-based non-profit organization, has part of its mission their mission being to increase access to books with characters that are diverse in race and color. "The organization has drawn up a list of more than a dozen children’s books featuring interracial families and children, though there’s an even more extensive Goodreads list featuring more than 70 titles."

The issue with most of these books is that "Right now, they’re more about affirming identity and image. Or they’re about normalizing relationships with parents or grandparents," says Dawn Eddy, director of Brown Baby Reads. One exception is "Blackout" by John Rocco. Much as it features a multiracial family, their multiracialism isn't the focus of the story. Martels adds:

However, this example is a glaring rarity. For the most part, if my son wants to read stories about characters who look like him, he’s only going to be reading about why they look the way they do. Kinda lame. If someone had given me a book called “You’re White and That’s Alright” or “The Boy with the Caucasian Persuasion” when I was younger, I can guarantee you that I would have thrown them under the bed and returned to my steady diet of stories starring knights, dragons, spacemen and aliens. You know, the stuff little boys actually love to read about.

Maybe we need more children interracial books "where race is not even an item that needs to be addressed in the story."

Eddy says, with time, more books will come up where the racial identity issue won't be the main story line. "We want to expose our children to books that reflect the world around them and make them feel a part of it. If there could be some dragons or aliens involved, I’m sure my son would love them even more," concludes Martell.

Do you think there is need for more children interracial literature. Do you think such books are necessary for children in multiracial families?

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