Children’s literature has come a long way since the days of Orbis sensualium pictus, a 1658 volume widely recognized as the first picture book ever created for children. But cutting out all the old classics and tired tropes to find stories that today’s young readers can truly relate to takes a bit of elbow grease on the internet.
Bookversal can make your search much easier. The website was created by Aleksandra Melnikova and Laura Hobson, two UK-based digital designers who believed that the most widely promoted and distributed children’s books didn’t always emulate the diversity of their audiences.
“My child couldn’t relate to any of the beautiful Rapunzel or Cinderella with golden hair. Things got even more complicated when I got divorced and had to answer questions like “why do I have two houses?” »» Melnikova Recount The big problem.
The site is organized into categories based on age group and theme, so you can explore all the books for “older kids” (10 years and older), for example, or see all the stories on “breaking them down.” stereotypes ”. Other sections include “diverse families”, “diverse cultures”, “diverse emotions” and “loyalty to oneself”.
Hobson’s personal favorite, A mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza, falls under “diverse families”. The story follows a curious little bird who sets off in search of his biological mother and finally realizes that mother doesn’t just mean “woman who gave birth to you” – a more inclusive riff from PD Eastman’s 1960 picture book. Are you my mother?
Each book is linked to a place to buy it (mostly from UK retailers, with a focus on independent bookstores owned by BIPOC), and the founders plan to expand Bookversal so users can post reviews. If you think a story should be added to the site, you can suggest it through a Google form on the home page.
Explore Bookversal here.
[h/t The Big Issue]