Childish Nonsense

Exploring Children's Literature


on May 12, 2014


I’ve been thinking a lot about diversity in children’s books lately, partly as a result of a grassroots movement among authors to get diverse books into the hands of children. For the past couple of weeks, authors have been Tweeting about this idea. Kate DiCamillo, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature through the Library of Congress and current Newbery winner for Flora and Ulysses, has asked authors to read books celebrating diversity at local independent book stores this Saturday, May 17, as part of Indies First.

So, WHY do we need diverse books? The answer is very simple. We want diverse readers. And not just superficially diverse, but diverse in their thinking and outlook.

For years, Americans have been asking why Johnny doesn’t read. It always comes back to books not interesting him.  Why should Johnny read anything if none of the characters look like him or talk like him or have any experiences similar to what he goes through every day? Authors like Matt de la Peña, who actually knows what it’s like to be caught between two cultures, have started to provide more deep-feeling narrative to fill the gap. But kids need more, and at younger ages. Readers start loving books young.

As an incredibly white woman, I can also see why the white majority needs an education on the feelings, experiences, and just plain ordinariness of people of all cultures and sub-cultures. The world is changing, and change is not always bad. Kids need to see that.

Last, traditional publishers need to know that, unless they speak to all segments of the population, there is an impact on their bottom line.

I didn’t want to get preachy with this, but I did want to call attention to this movement. #weneeddiversebooks

One response to “#WeNeedDiverseBooks

  1. Excellent post, Sue!

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