OurShelves: Diverse Book Boxes for Children

Heading into June's Pride Month

By Jessica Kline, Publisher + Editor Macaroni Kid Clifton-Montclair May 26, 2022

One family-friendly way to celebrate Pride is to read children’s books that feature LGBTQ+ and other diverse characters as well as to help advocate in concrete ways for the many more LGBTQ+ and other diverse books still needed. Founded by LGBTQ+ attorney (President of Maryland ACLU during marriage equality victory) and parent of a nine and three-year-old, Alli Harper, OurShelves is here to help on both fronts. As the number of younger parents grows, including younger LGBTQ+ people who are coming out earlier and expressing an interest in parenting - we are positioned to grow parenting.

OurShelves is a diverse kids’ books subscription service and advocacy effort. Harper founded OurShelves because she and her wife had a hard time finding books depicting two-mom families like theirs as well as so many other kinds of kids and families. OurShelves book boxes offer expert-curated stories that feature often-hard-to-find LGBTQ+, racially and ethnically diverse, disabled, and feminist characters and families, among other traditionally under-represented characters and families in high-quality kids’ books. OurShelves is designed to reflect the world we live in. The content is intersectional, purposeful, and modern.

As an LGBTQ+-owned small business working to make existing LGBTQ+ and other diverse kids’ books easier to find, all the while advocating for the many more books still needed, our service is needed more than ever as we see diverse families and youth targeted - their books can provide affirmation and representation.

OurShelves embodies a social change strategy to change the bookshelves of homes, classrooms, and libraries across the country as well as to change the picture book industry. As an example of how the OurShelves advocacy mission and subscription mission work together, publisher Barefoot Books recently published The Bread Pet that features a multiracial two-mom family—a choice influenced by Harper’s advocacy, says Barefoot Books Senior Editor, Kate DePalma. OurShelves then purchased this book to ship to its members across the country, strengthening the book’s sales. As OurShelves’ membership and buying power grows, OurShelves will continue advocating with publishers, backing that advocacy up with ever-increasing sales, proving the currently underestimated market for these books. Harper seeks to prove to publishers that there is opportunity, rather than risk, in creating these books.

We are able to work with you to speak with families, teachers and Curation Team members for interviews as well as to share data on the lack of LGBTQ+ and other diverse kids’ books, how and why existing LGBTQ+ and other diverse kids’ books can be hard to find, and how identity-based bias begins in early childhood.

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If you are interested please email me