Diversity seems to be a more and more popular subject today, at least more people are talking about it. Most people wouldn’t even think about diversity being brought up in a discussion related to children’s books but even before reading the articles Here I Am! by Brian Pinkney and The Publishing Perspective on Diversity by Karen Springen I noticed it in several books.
One point brought up that I agreed with is that black kids don’t see many diverse children books so they may feel like they don’t connect to them or relate to them like other children do. I think the best way to get into a book is if you and one of the characters have something in common even if it is as simple as skin color. Children seem to relax and have more fun if they feel comfortable and feel as if they can relate to someone or something.
The thing that surprised me was that some people believe that these books don’t sell. I think that idea is just plain silly. I’ve seen countless books of these types in the library and continue to see more and more each year. The people who use this myth as an excuse obviously don’t look around as hard as they should or could.
Something new I found out was that 31% of Newbery honor books and 22.5% of Caldecot honor books are based on diverse characters and themes. I actually predicted it would be more than that, I’m pretty surprised it’s that low. I know it could be a lot lower but I didn’t expect these numbers at all.
I think the best thing for teachers and librarians to do when it comes to diversity is to not ignore it. They should make sure they have a wide range of diverse books and maybe even recommend some to students. The more options you give students the higher chance they’ll try them and in the end they might feel more comfortable about everything and open to more ideas.