The rising movement for more and more representation of people of color, especially in books, has affected our world. From the first African American President, to greater coverage of racial injustices, society looks more aware and conscious of the prejudices that haunt the past. This effect has also garnered a significant impact on the literary sphere.
The Cooperative Children’s Book Center, also known as the CCBC, has compiled lists of books authored by people of color or concerning people of color since 1994; however, its history dates back to 1985 when their interests revolved solely on African-American literary representation. Since then, their coverage has encompassed and accepted more diversity. A 2015 illustration of racial diversity in books shows why they are trying to raise awareness.
On February 15th, the CCBC reported 12 percent of children’s books were either authored by people of color or featured characters of color in the year 2016; although the percentage seems staggeringly low, these findings are much different from the results twenty years ago, which was 9% (427 books written or illustrated by a person of color and 736 books concerning racial and cultural topics). It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s a step in the right direction.
The CCBC comments how teachers’ requests for books on racial diversity were mostly unmet because of the public’s reluctance to discuss topics about people of color. Because young people are usually unfamiliar with experiences outside their own culture, companies such as the CCBC feel a social imperative to distribute knowledge about racial diversity in the form of books. The books would not only contribute to child learning, but also expand their horizons of understanding beyond their personal experiences.
Here is a panel discussion featuring K.T. Horning, the director of CCBC, as she discusses the need for more children’s books about people of color.
YouTube Channel: The Children’s Book Council
Featured image via Beezus Kiddo