How it Started (2012):
How it’s Going:
As a connoisseur of children’s literature, I *feel* these statistics. It is incredibly difficult to find new books about Indigenous characters and Middle Eastern kids. I’m holding onto the Planet Omar series with both hands and I want Julie Flett, Richard Van Camp and Nancy Bo Flood swaddled in bubble wrap immediately as they are some of the few Indigenous creators who are consistently able to publish books about Indigenous life.
There have been gains, but we cannot rest on our laurels. Publishers made big statements last summer about their commitment to publishing more stories by and about people of color. As consumers, we have to hold those publishers accountable. The most important thing they can do is reach out to authors and illustrators of color and bring them into their pipelines. Getting picked up by a major publisher is a VERY difficult feat and without connections, it’s nearly impossible. But publishers can make a difference by employing more editors and agents of color and making clear their commitment to finding more voices with more stories to tell.
I don’t think we should be aiming for proportional representation in children’s books. Because White culture is so dominant and residential and school segregation is intransigent, children’s exposure to cultures outside of their own is abysmally low. We used to try to spread the word about cultural festivals happening around the country, but because of Covid-19, even outdoor gatherings have been canceled. However, we always have books. If you are in an area with low levels of diversity, you can safely increase your kids’ exposure to other people through books until more opportunities for in-person interaction become available.