#We Need Diverse Books…

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

Not just a logo, a movement!

Not just a logo, a movement!

Have you seen the social media campaign advocating for children’s literature with more diverse characters? While I’ve known since forever that colored folks are woefully underrepresented in kiddie lit, including YA fiction, it seems that the rest of the world is now taking notice as well. Better late than never, right?

Here’s a recap of how the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign started from the Los Angeles Times. And here’s an article from Entertainment Weekly that I am quoted in that was written after award-winning author, Walter Dean Myers penned a New York Times Op-Ed about the pathetic number of books for children that feature characters of color.

I’m happy that this issue is capturing the attention of so many, including the mainstream media, but one thing I think we’ve forgotten to do is highlight all of the great books already out there that do feature characters that look like me and my kids and my friends. Not to mention, the stellar authors who have made this their life work. In all of this protest, we should also be celebrating the great books and authors already on the scene.

So, dear readers, what are some of your favorite books for kids -– big kids or little kids — that feature non-White characters? I’m listening and taking notes. And if you don’t already, follow me on Twitter where I’ll be tweeting some of my favorite kids’ books, and maybe some of yours, throughout the month of May.

Peace!

3 comments for “#We Need Diverse Books…

  1. Susan:)
    23 May, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Oh forgot to say, one of my favorite young adult books is Come a Stranger by Cynthia Voigt. It’s about a Black teenage girl growing up in rural Maryland, who dances ballet. She wins a scholarship to a dance camp in Connecticut and finds she’s the only Black girl there. She learns a lot but is also subjected to racism and is rejected from the camp the following summer based on her rapid growth. That’s just the beginning of the story, it goes on through her teenage years and shows how that experience shaped her, among other things.

    I read a lot of young adult books, and I’ve noticed that some authors do make an effort to include characters of color, but I don’t recall any where anyone but a white person was the main character. I’ve often thought we need to see books where the main character is not white. Why aren’t there more? Can white authors write non white main characters successfully? Are there non white authors writing young adult fiction? If so, they need more attention.

  2. Susan:)
    23 May, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Ooh, my favorite subject, children’s books! Having been a preschool teacher, I was always on the lookout for good books with nice illustrations and diversity. My classes had a variety of kids, so of course I needed diversity in my books. But also, I’d want diversity anyway, even if my classes weren’t. Ezra Jack Keats, of course, depicted children of color in his books. And the stories were sweet and simple. I had one picture book by Faith Ringgold, it was really pretty and had an interesting story of a black family in New York. There was a series of board books I liked about different ethnic foods. I forget the author, but the titles included Hola, Jalapeño, Let’s Nosh, Yum Yum, Dim Sum and others. Very cute intro to foods from different cultures. I also like all the books about kids from different countries that used real photos. I tried to look for children of color in the illustrations of general picture books, but they were hard to find. There was one Asian author that I loved who always has beautiful illustrations, Grace Lin. I can’t think of any other specific authors right now. I’ll have to go look them up!

  3. Cyretha
    11 May, 2014 at 2:27 am

    Hi,

    It’s been a long time since I have looked at a children’s book. However, I will mention my friend Kelly Starling Lyons, who is an author of several children’s books. Here is the link to her website. http://www.kellystarlinglyons.com/index.html

    Cyretha

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