The lack of easily accessible diverse books is an issue that we’re all too familiar with, but why is it so hard to find diverse books for boys?
When I began researching diverse books, I kept finding books aimed at girls – many about natural hair – but nothing for boys. I am a mother of two black boys, Ahaziah, aged 6, and Micaiah, aged 3. I feel it is important that children are exposed to all cultures and lifestyles through reading, including their own, but recently I have struggled to find many books that my boys can relate to.
Not only does regular reading help to build up vocabulary and improve spelling and grammar within children, regular reading can help children to understand and interact with other people that may be different to them. At school, Ahaziah receives two books for the week that he sometimes finishes reading in a day. I want to encourage him to read more so we’ve started going to the library more so he can choose additional books for himself. I want my boys to enjoy reading, and find books they can learn from as well as books that will motivate them. But it’s increasingly frustrating when none of the books reflect some of the narratives they may be familiar with in their lives. Recently, Ahaziah has been choosing Horrid Henry books which he can read well but, let’s be honest, Horrid Henry isn’t the sort of book that is encouraging and motivating!
A great book that I did come across was Murray the Milkman & Co Present The Enchanted House by Gretzel Lozanowhich, a good, informative read that my boys could relate to. Even the little things the book mentioned, like almond milk, which we drink in our house, and dominoes which I’ve told my boys to look out for at family gatherings! Those small things allowed my boys to see a bit of themselves in the story.
I also have A Dance to Remember by Lorna Liverpool. Ahaziah was reading it and saw a picture of an Ankh and said “mama wears that” referring to his Grandmother. It was nice to hear him get excited and be able to recognise something in a book that relates to his culture. It definitely brought a smile to my face. But moments like that are a rarity when it comes to books for my boys as there doesn’t seem to be much of a selection at all.
For some, it’s a small problem that’s easy to ignore but, for me, there’s a clear void that needs to be filled. And I won’t stop my personal hunt until the void is filled – in my home at least!
Can you help me on my quest for more culture inspired books for my boys?! Let me know of any books you could recommend.
Words by Nahdia Blake.