The images children see in books matter. It’s important to expose children to diverse stories and images, especially if they don’t get the chance to leave their community often. I made it a point to select books for my son that exposed him to different cultures, religions, and peoples so he could “see” the world.
It is equally important for books to have characters that represent the reader – there should be a balance. This keeps readers engaged. It also builds their self-esteem and love of reading, which improves their performance in school.
When looking at the children’s books published in 2018, the balance was not there. The majority of the books published had White characters or animals. African American children were more likely to see an animal in a book than someone who looked like them.
According to the Diversity in Children’s Books 2018* study, the characters represented in children’s were as follows:
10% African/African American
7% Asian Pacific Islander/Asian Pacific American
1% American Indians/First Nations
This is why I publish books that feature African American children. The gap needs to be filled, and I want to do my part to fill it.
*Statistics are based on the 2018 publishing statistics compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison: https://ccbc.education.wisc.edu