Bans on diverse picture books? Young kids need to see their families represented, experts say

Across the country, books and lessons that represent different families and identities are increasingly the target of conservative pushback — even when they're for the youngest of learners. Educators and free-speech advocates say the books and lessons caught up in these bans often simply acknowledge the existence of different identities. That's crucial, experts say, to help young children develop empathy and an understanding of themselves — especially for children whose families include people of color or LGBTQ+ relatives. Of the bans targeting picture books, about three-quarters are books that address LGBTQ+ themes and roughly half mention race, PEN America says.