Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

Tell Me Another Story: Diversity in Children’s Literature

As a member of the Ezra Jack Keats Award committee, I’d like to use this month’s post to share a newly released documentary produced by the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation.  The 30-minute film highlights the importance of children seeing images of themselves in books and celebrates some of the champions who have advanced and enhanced diversity in picture books — Ezra Jack Keats, W.E.B. DuBois, Augusta Baker, Pura Belpre, Andrea Davis Pinkney and more.  Click here to view:

As a young reader, I happily devoured Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, The Bobbsey Twins, Cherry Ames, Trixie Belden and Elsie Dinsmore.  Although some of these contained embarrassing stereotypes, which I simply skimmed over, I loved these series.  But one book captured me in a way these did not.  Bright April by Marguerite De Angeli gave me a character with whom I could truly identify.



April was me.  She looked like me, she was a Girl Scout like me, she had the same feelings as me, her father was a mailman, like my grandfather, she even had the same mother as me — kind and wise.  April didn’t ruin Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden or those other books for me, but she gave me a personal feeling of pride that previous books never had.  De Angeli’s gentle tale entered my heart and stayed.

As an adult who had little black history growing up, I have been playing catch up, working to educate myself about my history and culture.  As a writer, first and foremost, I want to tell good stories, but I also hope to capture young readers the way De Angeli captured me.

A happy note: I just received the new Horn Book Magazine (November/December 2021) and was thrilled to see diverse books here, there and everywhere!