Amazon best retailer for diversity in children's books

19 July 2018

 A new study, funded by the Arts Council, has found that there is a lack of diversity in Children's Books, with less than 1% featuring a black or minority ethnic (BAME) character. The study did not appear to look at other culturally diverse features, such as disability, gender or sexuality in its work.

Almost a third of school children have minority ethnic origins and in the 9,115 books published in 2017, less than four percent featured BAME characters. Within the genres of children's books, many of those that did tended to focus on social justice, war and migration, and other books classed as 'contemporary realism.'  Shockingly, only one book was classed as comedy.

This news comes as a recent study from Leahy and Foley (2018) conclude on the profound influence of children's literature in their lives and the role educators have in ensuring libraries stocked carefully with diverse characters that each child can identify with. We know to what extent literature represents ourselves and if a child cannot see a representation of themselves in literature, a white superiority can be re-enforced. More diverse role models in literature will lead to empowering BAME children, raise expectations of future possibilities, and reduce stereotyping.

With this in mind, it is necessary to look at what our Find-Book retailers are doing to promote diversity within their children's books. How easy is it to navigate their sites and find suitable books across the age range? We decided to review the retailers and searched directly on their sites for their broad provision on diversity. We did not separate out a search into discreet diversity categories, such as BAME, Gender or disabilities.

Amazon, came out tops in relation to specific searches for books on diversity.

The search 'diversity books for children' retrieves a set of 6000 mixed results which clearly relate to the specific theme of diversity and include; Can I Join Your Club; Amazing Difference; Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl; and Global Babies. Also of note in a book inspired by John Lennon's song 'Imagine' on the themes of peace and tolerance,  which for each copy sold a royalty goes to Amnesty International.

Diversity books for teens reveals 871 results and includes some titles that portray positive BAME characters in typical teenage fantasy fiction, as opposed to the victims of real disaster. For example, Children of Book and Bone and Orangeboy, are winners of teen fiction awards.

Amazon also separate out their offering to young readers aged 3 – 4 and within the 104 titles reveal regular themes, such as letter to Amy, depicting a Black child as the central character, and Ramadan Moon, a more culturally specific book intending to explain the role of Ramadan as a time of prayer and fasting celebrated by Muslims globally.

The Book Depository

In a general search 'diversity books for children' revealed significantly less titles with only 332 results in total. The filtering system in operation is useful as it is possible to search specific age ranges and order titles in price high to low, or newest to oldest and vice versa, which does make navigation easier, but reveals significantly less material and some of which is arguably not really inclusion of diverse characters in literature.

Diversity books for teens disappointing revealed only two titles, with no images for either, and as both were unavailable it is difficult to assess their relevance.


Waterstones have not tackled advanced searching for this genre at all, with both searches for diversity in children's books and teens revealing no titles. This is very disappointing!


Hive also failed to tackle the issue of diversity in their books for children and teens and similarly produced no results.

Alibris UK

Again, the issue has not been addressed in relation to diversity and only three titles were returned and these all had the word diversity in the title.

Abe Books

Abe Books fared a little better, although still a long way off Amazons results. The search for diversity in children's books revealed 758 titles. The presentation of results was a little difficult to navigate as academic study books such as 'Children's Homes: A Study of Diversity' is presented alongside 'Scottish Poems' and 'Why are People Different Colours? Big Issues for Little People Around Identity and Diversity.'

It has always been clear that children want to see themselves represented in their books and just as adults, they don't want to be only represented for any perceived victimhood. Yes it is important that we know about the cultural backgrounds and experiences of diverse people within populations but it is not the only narrative. Most children want to read fantasy and some escapism from contemporary reality can be a very good thing for all of us.

Some groups are addressing this by focusing on natural inclusion of diversity. For example, the Book Trust have given guidance to writers of examples of good practice, including avoiding stereotyping, not using the difference as central to the story, so for example, natural inclusion of wheelchair use for one of the central characters, thinking about language and terminology, and avoiding assumptions by making sure that research is thorough.

Improving accessibility is a challenge for writers, teachers, publisher and retailers. Amazon have provided the best service in relation to diversity in the group of retailers we surveyed, but they still have much to do to improve, as do we here at find-book.

To search Amazon's store for Diversity books for children – follow the link

To search Amazon's store for Diversity books for teens – follow the link