It’s been a while since I’ve brought up the topic of race in children’s books, and I’m eager to hear how you publishers are coming along with your efforts to publish increasingly inclusive lists of books that feature kids of color as main characters in general-interest stories that aren’t primarily driven by issues of race.
Stories and nonfiction about racially charged eras and issues of racial identity in our culture are critical, of course. But equally important are mainstream stories—in every genre—that feature kids of color as main characters in a setting that, like most of America, is culturally and racially diverse. Stories about friendship, family, pets, love, character, self-reliance, etcetera, in mysteries, adventures, science fiction and fantasy, for every age child and every type of book, including chapter books, board books, easy readers. We need all of these books, now. Need them deeply and importantly, as my mother would have said.
The good news is that we are seeing more new titles fitting this description in catalogs and rep meetings, and arriving at the Flying Pig in new-release cartons.
For more than a year now, I’ve maintained a multicultural online bibliography on LibraryThing.com, of as many titles fitting the above description (books that feature kids of color as main characters in general-interest stories that aren’t primarily driven by issues of race; kids of color must be depicted on the front cover of the books if there are any characters depicted in the art). These books are sortable by age range, genre, and format, and there are more than 600 titles in the collection so far.
I would LOVE for publishers to send me lists of any 2011 titles that meet the criteria. Kids of color must be featured on the book covers. You can use my email: ebluemle AT publishersweekly.com or mention titles here (just bibliographic info in the comments here; no promo, please). I’ll add them to the list and celebrate you to the skies!
P.S. A heads-up. Soon, I’ll be inviting you to share success stories about increasing diversity within publishing houses. I really, really hope to hear some great news.