Feb 1 2024

Black Representation in Children’s Books

Black Representation in Children’s Books
"There is a severe lack of ethnic representations in children’s books. Diversity, particularly in everyday stories of families and classrooms is lacking. That’s not to devalue or disregard the importance of those books that educate kids about slavery, the civil rights movement, or influential black figures. Or those storybooks with the noble aim of teaching [black] children that their skin, their hair, their noses are beautiful.
But there is a dire need for picture books where the black protagonist is merely doing what kids do."

Tim Warnes, Author of "I Love You To The Moon and Back"

Hi! My name is Paul Beckford, and I am a Recreation Coordinator working in the New York City area. I work in a shelter with low-income families and immigrants coming to the United States who have experienced adversity and are awaiting housing. Every day I have the privilege of serving children and adults of all ages who have come from all over the world.

As someone with African American and Native American Heritage, equitable access to books that have allowed me to feel a sense of belonging and identity were not always available to me. A book can have a profound impact on a child, and one that represents their culture and ethnic background is important for them to be able to see. Accessibility to books that represent different cultures is not always widely available throughout the United States. Growing up in a lower-income area, we had access to one, small, local public library and the main public library was a great resource, but not the most convenient for my family. The Little Free Libraries that we see today in different neighborhoods were not nearly as popular as they are now.

I am blessed to have grown up surrounded by a family filled with gifted storytellers who can spark curiosity, inspiration, and wonder in anyone. I owe a majority of my love of reading to them; they allowed me to see the beauty and importance of books and what power they possess, despite not seeing the stories of my family widely represented in books when I was growing up. Children should have the chance to feel empowered and inspired by books that represent someone like them, showcasing that they, too, are capable of anything. The importance of being able to have your story told, your culture represented, and how extraordinary you are is something that can give a child the sense we are all connected. Learning about diversity and showing an equitable representation of ALL cultures in children’s books is a necessary foundation for their success.

All About Books does a great job of offering a wide selection of inclusive titles that show children from all backgrounds. I recommend these titles, featuring Black characters, written by Black authors, and/or illustrated by Black illustrators.


Tim Warnes Blog


Posted on Feb 1, 2024

Paul Beckford
Hey there, I’m Paul Beckford

Paul Beckford is a Recreation Coordinator working in the New York City area. He has a background in music therapy, music performance, and therapy and music application in healthcare.