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The Power of Highlighting Authors and Illustrators

January 6, 2022

Children need books, materials and experiences that reflect who they are, help them see beyond their own experience, and support them to grapple with injustice in their world. In our work to diversify our instructional materials, we want to challenge the status quo and expand our repertoire in ways that are accurate, authentic and complex (not presenting a ‘single story’).

When we select and study  own-voice books, created by authors and illustrators that reflect the diversity of our community, we  seek authenticity and select the opportunity to build even deeper connections for our children. Some illustrators and authors have created multiple books, potentially inspiring an illustrator or author study.  Some authors and illustrators have even created multiple books together, such as Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson and have produced wonderful Study Guides.  

When selecting picture books for classroom read-alouds and libraries consider the following steps:

  • Select a book/author/illustrator based on current curriculum content and the population of classroom. 
  • Show a picture of the author/illustrator – from inside the book cover, or from the internet.
  • Tell a bit about their life story – you may have to do some research.
  • Share their personal connection to the story.
  • Share videos (many are available online) about them, how they work, where they live, how they grew up; or of them reading their book(s). Try to find own-voice read-aloud videos.

Providing children with own-voice books and highlighting pictures, information, and videos of authors and illustrators broadens children’s sense of who can be the creators of books.  When we intentionally select books by artists who reflect our students’ intersectional identities, we provide opportunities for students to imagine and embrace themselves and their peers as creatives – storytellers, writers, artists, illustrators.

To hear more about the impact of seeing yourself reflected in books, listen to the voices of Yuyi Morales, Oge Mora, and Grace Lin in: Drawing Across the Color Line with Kids

Here are some of our favorite book makers:

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