The Gift of Growing up with Books to Reflect a Diverse Human Experience

by TRJ Parent and Librarian, Avril McInally

Image from The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

Meet “Peter” the small African-American child who inspired Ezra Jack Keats “The Snowy Day”.

Ezra had noticed that the main characters in the books he illustrated were always white. That didn’t seem fair to other children, who deserved to see characters in books that looked like them. He decided that Peter would be the hero of his story because “he should have been there all along.”

Origin of the Annual TRJ Bibliography

A few years ago and with a similar thought in mind, I (TRJ parent and librarian, Avril McInally) thought about searching for books for Black children with characters that look like them and reflect their experience. Then, I thought of finding books featuring characters who were adopted, biracial or LGBTQIA+. So began the annotated bibliography for families formed by transracial adoption in 2021.

A year later, Vicki Richards, a children’s librarian stepped in to help find and vet these books too because, unfortunately, some still don’t quite get the adoption experience right. For the last few years, we’ve been reading lots of books and reviewing them.

2023 Bibliography for the Giving Season and All Year Long

This year, we’re attaching the 2023 Bibliography to this month’s newsletter so you can work to:

  • Support authors and illustrators who are POC (people of color)
  • Support a small, but growing group of authors who are adoptees
  • Give books to our children and families so they can see reflections of themselves in them
  • Give books to white children and families to help them understand the perspective of children who are Black or queer or who have experienced adoption
  • So you don’t miss the boat on giving your children the opportunity to grow up with beautiful books, stories and characters that reflect their experiences

I recommend supporting independent bookstores, especially Black-owned ones and purchasing your books directly from them. If you want to visit a brick-and-mortar shop and don’t know where to find one, just call your local public library and ask a librarian to help you locate one. We have also included links to each book as found on which helps to support independent bookstores.

I’ll see you at TRJ camp in Athens, Ohio next summer with a fully-stocked book sale featuring our book picks for 2024!


This post is from our December, 2023, newsletter. If you would like to get our newsletter in your inbox each month, as well as information about our annual Transracial Journeys Family Camp and our monthly Zoom call to provide support for our transracial adoption parents please subscribe.