I hope the summer months are treating you well. In case you’re not using your free time to track NPR’s Morning Edition, I wanted to pop in here and share one of their recent articles. It piqued my interest and may do the same for you.
“Do White-centric books sell better?” So asks a recent article, “As Demographics Shift, Kids’ Book Stay Stubbornly White,” by NPR. The article aired on Morning Edition on June 25, 2013. It points out an issue that forms the basis of many of our discussions here at Vamos a Leer – “that when it comes to diversity, children’s books are sorely lacking; instead of presenting a representative range of faces, they’re overwhelmingly white.”
Quoted in the article is Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, the author of the popular Bad News for Outlaws and a public librarian here in Rio Rancho, NM. Nelson brings the article’s topic closer to home in stating that “young people need to see themselves represented on the page so that they will continue reading.” I think it’s safe to speak for many in our local book group when I say that the lack of representation for our local youth is a definitive problem when looking for engaging books for them to read.
Even as the article provocatively suggests that publishers aren’t publishing works of literature about people of color for children, the author quickly proceeds to discount that hypothesis. So what is it that we’re missing? Why don’t we see increasing quantities of children’s literature focused on perspectives of people of color? What rationale or institutional constraint is holding authors and publishing houses back from flooding our bookshelves with engaging and authentic books set in a plurality of cultures?