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BTC: Diverse Children's Literature

A starting place to learn how to search for diverse literature in the Ballenger Teachers Center Collection

Diverse Children's Literature

Sometimes called multicultural literature, diverse children's literature is an umbrella term for a wide variety of books. Searching for multicultural books or diverse books in the library catalog will not get you very far.

When exploring diverse children's literature, it is helpful to think of the specific kinds of people and/or experiences you want to introduce to your students. Do you want to talk to your students about a specific disability? Do you want to compassionately address the issue of homelessness or poverty?

Once you have a more specific idea of the topic you would like to address, it is time to brainstorm keywords. The library catalog responds best when you enter in a key word or phrase rather than typing in a sentence or question. 

Tips for searching for diverse children's literature in the library catalog

Start your search on the Ballenger Teachers Center website using the Books and Kits tab:

Below, I have provided suggested search terms to use to find literature about different diversity categories. I have pulled many of these search terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings. Sometimes these headings use old, outdated, and/or problematic terms. This is unfortunate, but I do suggest using the terms suggested to best find books related to the literature you want.

This list is by no means exhaustive. Please contact Mrs. McDaniel if you are having trouble finding literature in a specific area. Combine search terms below with the phrase juvenile works or picture books or juvenile fiction to limit to children's books.


Search for specific conditions, such as: 

  • For Autism Spectrum Disorder, search Autism
  • Blindness or blind children
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Deafness, deaf, or deaf children
  • Developmentally disabled children
  • Down Syndrome
  • Dyslexia
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • People cognitive disabilities, use People with Mental Disabilities
  • Wheelchairs

Additional search terms include:

  • children with disabilities
  • individual differences
  • people with disabilities
Displaced People


  • emigration & immigration
  • immigrants picture books
  • immigrants fiction
  • migrant
  • refugees

For Divorce 

  • blended families
  • divorce fiction
  • stepfamilies

For multigenerational families, search 

  • multigenerational family  
  • grandparents
  • grandparent-grandchild relationship

For Same-Sex Parents, search juvenile with any of these search terms (don't search for all at once): 

  • alternative family
  • children of gay parents
  • lesbian mothers
  • gay fathers
  • gay parents

Additional ideas:

  • single-parent families
  • teenage mothers
Gender, Sexual, and Identity Diversity
  • children of gay parents
  • gay fathers
  • gay parents
  • gender identity
  • gender nonconformity
  • homosexuality
  • lesbian mothers
  • For lgbt+ use lgbt
  • nonbinary
  • sexual minorities
  • transgender people
Religious and Philosophical Diversity

This is not an exhaustive list, but some to consider are: 

  • Agnosticism
  • Atheism
  • Buddhism
  • Christianity or Christians
  • Hindu
  • Islam or Muslims
  • Judaism
  • Native American Religion
  • Sikhism
Socioeconomic Diversity

Some ideas include

  • economic conditions
  • homeless persons
  • homelessness & poverty
  • For insecure food and/or housing use poor or poverty
  • social classes
  • social conditions
  • wealth or rich people or millionaires or billionaires
Specific racial or ethnic groups

Please note, these search terms are taken from Library of Congress Subject Headings, and are not necessarily the best way of describing specific people groups.

  • African Americans
  • Asian American (you can also add more specific people groups, such as:)
    • Chinese Americans
    • Japanese Americans
    • Korean Americans
    • Pakistani Americans
  • For Latinx use Hispanic & Latino or Latina
  • Indians of North America
  • Mexican Americans
  • Native American
  • Racially mixed people
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