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Thursday, July 11, 2013

ALA Take-Away: Issues Surrounding Multicultural Books for Kids

At ALA Annual last week, I had the opportunity to attend two very well-organized and engaging sessions on the issues surrounding the publishing of multicultural literature for children.  Some of you may remember last winter's controversial New York Times article decrying the lack of Latino children's literature.  There was also a recent NPR story on the same topic.  This compelling infographic from multicultural children's publisher Lee and Low provides a visual presentation of the stagnation in terms of the inclusion of people of color in literature for children and youth.


However, the issue of diverse representation in multicultural children's literature is more nuanced than a simple declaration of not enough material being published.  What is happening with the high-quality diverse children's literature that is being published?  Are Pura Belpré and Coretta Scott King award-winning books being used in classrooms and after-school programs?  How many books that positively portray people of color are included in library bibliographies and school summer reading lists?  Are we incorporating bilingual books into our storytimes and library displays, or are they languishing in foreign language sections of our children's areas, separate from where most families browse and discover new books?

There were many responses to the original New York Times article, including one from School Library Journal in which prominent Latino children's literature scholars and librarian activists such as Dr. Jamie Campbell Naidoo and Oralia Garza de Cortes were quoted speaking about the strides that have been made for diverse children's literature in recent decades.  What was the most powerful take-away for me from that article is what was also the most powerful take-away for me from the discussion sessions at ALA - if we want to see the publishing of diverse children's literature that actually reflects the demographics of our country, then we must demand it.  We must do our part to be sure that the high-quality literature that already exists is visible and accessible.  We must support small publishers.  We must demand diversity in classrooms, library programs and book fairs.  We must continue to engage in the discussion in-person and online long after the spark from these recent news stories fades away.

What are you doing, in ways small and large, to increase the visibility of diverse children's literature in your community?

3 comments:

Kali Carollo said...

Just found your blog on Multicultural Kid Blogs website. Now following!

Katie Scherrer said...

Thanks for the follow - so glad to have you!

Howard said...

Great!