#OwnVoices in Children’s Literature

#OwnVoices books are written by authors who share underrepresented characteristics with the characters they are writing about. Children need and want to see themselves in the books they are reading. #OwnVoices books give children that mirror to see themselves reflected in the books they read. Brightly author Kayla Whaley says it perfectly, “The author has the deepest possible understanding of the intricacies, the joys, the difficulties, the pride, the frustration, and every other possible facet of that particular life—because the author has actually lived it” (n.d.) These books aren’t just for the population they are written about though. They are also a great way to understand the world and life from the perspective of people who have been marginalized by society.

Here is a growing list of books for children from preschool to eight grade:


Picture Books

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

Where Are You From? By Jamie Kim

Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie

A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Peña

The Day Abuelo Got Lost by Diane de Anda

Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina

I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison

Saffron Ice Cream by Rashin Kheiriyeh

Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o

Rescue and Jessica by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes


Middle Grade

A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold

Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds

The Only Road by Alexandra Diaz

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

The Stars Beneath our Feet by David Barclay Moore

Born Just Right by Jordan Reeves & Jen Lee Reeves

Dear America by Jose Antonio Vargas

George by Alex Gino

Braced by Alyson Gerber

Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

It All Comes Down to This by Karen English

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Resources: Whaley, K. (n.d.). #OwnVoices: Why we need diverse authors in children’s literature. https://www.readbrightly.com/why-we-need-diverse-authors-in-kids-ya-lit/

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