Do you struggle to find books that represent the children in your life? If so, the statistics about diversity in picture books show that you’re not alone. That’s why we created our one-of-a-kind new book, The Barefoot Book of Children - for families, classrooms and daycares just like yours. As a mother of a young child and one of the co-authors of the book, I’d love to tell you all about how we at Barefoot Books made this beautiful book for all children.
The Making of The Barefoot Book of Children
We assembled an entire team of specialists to work on The Barefoot Book of Children: our own Stefanie Paige Grossman, M.S.Ed, Child Development Specialist; Maria-Veronica Barnes, Director of Education at Lexington Montessori School in Massachusetts; and Beth Cox and Alexandra Strick at Inclusive Minds. A book of this scope and magnitude called for bringing in lots of knowledgeable people.
These specialists helped us make sure that our book was truly achieving its goal of being inclusive and accessible to all readers, and that it was depicting the rich diversity of the human experience in the best way we could in 64 pages.
With their help, we made small but important changes to the text, like asking readers not what they can “hear and see and smell” from where they are but instead asking what they “hear or see or smell” (emphasis mine) so as to not assume that the reader has full use of all 5 senses. It took input from the entire team to decide the best and most age-appropriate way to address the idea that people can be transgender or experience gender dysphoria in the endmatter section for our Bodies spread. We decided on the following wording: “Some people feel comfortable in the bodies they were born in. Some people don’t.” Readers can interpret this a number of ways.
The result of our hard work on the details of The Barefoot Book of Children is something incredible to behold. David Dean’s illustrations not only introduce readers to a huge range of different ways of life, but also specifically seeks to represent children in ways that defy stereotypes that young readers might have already absorbed. We think images like artistic Darnell (see image on left) and the adventurous hijabi girl photographing the Kuwait Towers (whose hijab is made of the bojagi quilt the Korean children are sewing, see image below) are significant and essential to the book.
Join the conversation!
Children’s publishing has a serious diversity problem, and I feel a tremendous responsibility as a creator of children’s books to be a vocal part of the solution. I consider diversity and inclusion every single day as I do my job as an editor and author, and I’m so proud to work for a company that has prioritized creating diverse books for decades. Starting conversations about diversity cannot be the sole responsibility of those who are underrepresented. But conversations about diversity must include a diverse range of voices.
So I’d love to hear from you! How has the issue of diversity in children’s publishing impacted your family and your life? Share your thoughts on social media with the hashtag #AllChildren to join the conversation!
And be sure to check out The Barefoot Book of Children, a book that tackles issues of human diversity head-on with inviting artwork and an accessible text. We consider it the culmination of Barefoot’s mission to open hearts and minds. Share it with a child today, and do your part to change the world for the better!
About the Author
Senior Editor, Barefoot Books
Co-Author of The Barefoot Book of Children
As Senior Editor at Barefoot Books, Kate DePalma has helped develop dozens of picture books; Kate also writes picture books under her pseudonym, Sunny Scribens. She holds an M.A. in Classics from the University of Texas and is also a published poet and scholar.
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