if we want to see more diversity in literature, we have to buy the books

school library journal graphic

School Library Journal came out with their Diversity Issue a few months ago and it’s been on my “to read” pile since then. Their lead article Children’s Books: Still an All-White World? tells a depressing tale of under-representation of black children in US children’s books (they are the only ethnic group mentioned, I am presuming this goes doubly so for groups with smaller representation in the US) and ends with a call to action for librarians to make sure they are creating a market for these titles to encourage more books by and about all kinds of people.

I grew up in a Free to Be You and Me sort of world where my mother actively selected books for me to read with a wide range of ethnicities represented. I had dolls representing many backgrounds. My mother wrote textbooks where there were strict rules about being inclusive and representative and, living in a small town, I assumed this was the way the rest of the world worked. Not so. Reading this article drove home the point that while I may have been a young person during a rare time of expansion of titles and characters of color, that expansion slowed and the situation is still stagnant even as the US is becoming more diverse than ever. Another article in the Diversity Issue highlights research which indicates that “the inclusion of these cross-group images encourages cross-group play“. Sounds like a good thing. We should be doing more.

2 Responses to “if we want to see more diversity in literature, we have to buy the books”

  1. Kari Says:

    You might like this woman’s tumblr if you haven’t seen it already http://medievalpoc.tumblr.com/ Although she deals primarily with art she did recently take a look at POC in books (fiction) http://medievalpoc.tumblr.com/search/books

    I recently made the decisions to seek out books by persons of color and women as they don’t get the publicity they should and damn it I WILL put my money where my mouth is. :)

    I found out about Nora Jemisin (publishing under N.K. Jemisin) through MedievalPOC. http://medievalpoc.tumblr.com/post/72572394597/cypheroftyr-medievalpoc-girljanitor-if And even though I am not into fantasy as much any more I really enjoyed ‘The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms’ and have the next book in the series on deck.

  2. Henrietta M. Smith Says:

    Like many? others I have been cncerned with the apparent lack of inteest in material related to characters of color – of even real people ho have made considerable contributions to our society. I find it disappointing that many libraries do not purchase the Coretta Scott King Award Books volumes although they are highly rated as to content, quality illustrations reproduced from award winning titles and biographical information often not found elsewhere. Is that too many feel that this information in not really important, not really needed? or can be found elsewhere?
    I wonder about the interest level of those who are even members of minority cultures? Maybe the information in the article will spark some renewed interest in the topic.