Ten out of one hundred. That’s the ratio of children’s books published in 2013 that included people of color. The number underscores how “publishing for children and teens has a long way to go before reflecting the rich diversity of perspectives and experiences within and across race and culture,” says the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin, which tracks the occurrence of people of color in children’s books.
Books are an easy way for children to be exposed early in life to the diverse world in which they live. Meeting book characters of color can help children develop awareness and empathy. For young readers of color, books with characters that look like them aid in building self-esteem and self-identity at a critical time in development.
How can parents create more diversity in their children’s reading material? Here are a few tips from the Reginald F. Lewis Musuem…
how to create more diversity in your child’s reading material
Check Out Websites of Children’s Book Awards
Resources such as the Coretta Scott King Awards can be a starting point for outstanding titles to purchase in the genre of African American children’s books.
Request Titles at Your Local Library
Libraries are open to suggestions from visitors on titles to carry. You can also request that your local school media centers carry titles of multicultural children’s books.
Attend Children’s Book Festivals
Events like the Annual African American Children’s Book Fair at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum provides free books about African American themes and author and illustrator talks. “Through this free event, we hope to nurture a love of reading and perhaps tomorrow’s next award-winning author or illustrator, to begin breaking the cycle of absence of minorities in children’s literature,” says Roni Jolley, the museum’s Director of Education.
Join a Book Club for Kids
Most importantly, keep the activity of reading fun for you and your child. Swap books with your other parents, or come together to form a book club for kids. You’ll diversify everyone’s reading material and multiply the fun of story time!
This article is sponsored by the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, who is hosting the 4th Annual African American Children’s Book Fair on Saturday, May 14, 12pm-4pm. This FREE event features author talks, illustrator workshops, performances, and interactive programming for children and families. Sponsored by BGE. Free admission. Here’s a peek at last year’s event!