Every child wants and needs to find their place in the world. All children want to see individuals who look like them and people close to them. It is not a coincidence that there are books specifically designed with a female or male protagonist. This gives a choice to children to see boys or girls represented in a center leading role. We see children and early reader books with topics that cover a large array of hobbies, sports, activities, animals, school experiences, academic topics, fantasy, make believe, sibling dynamics, emotions, hero’s, coming of age stories and so much more. This is absolutely wonderful!
I think most parents would agree that a variety of topics to explore in our children’s library helps them to discover new worlds, learn lessons, morals, and helps them learn about identifying other people’s feelings. Kids also like to identify with the protagonist or lead character. Typically the protagonist is portrayed to have any combination of being a good person, a hero, intelligent, honest, attractive, creative, gifted, talented, likeable and/or good at solving dilemmas. Children often identify with or want to be like the lead character in some way. This is why having protagonists from different races and cultural backgrounds are essential in literature for our youth.
On a Personal Note
My daughter is a bookworm like myself. She loved to have books read to her when she was a small toddler and little girl. She has always had a great joy of reading as she grown from an eager kindergartner to the young adult she is today. I know that representation is important. It is a positive and necessary experience for all children to see themselves in positive characters, as active members in our society. It is true all humanity has beautiful and positive youngsters, but sadly this fact is underrepresented in our literature for our children!
My daughter is in college now. We are African Americans. I can remember searching for books featuring little black girls for my daughter when she was a toddler. This search continued for her when she was in elementary and junior high school as well. I read lots of books to her and we made frequent trips to the library and local bookstores. We choose books including inanimate objects, animals, children and adults as the main characters. Most of her personal library did not include literature represented by African American girls like her. Many books that featured children representing African American or other cultural backgrounds had to be special ordered online or reserved from other libraries outside of our area from our local library.
Unfortunately, the literature industry has had a slight rise in book diversity, but is vastly behind in having children books that represent our cultural makeup in the United States. “Within five years, more than half of America’s children and teenagers will have at least one nonwhite parent. But when the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison looked at 3,200 children’s books published in the United States last year, it found that only 14 percent had black, Latino, Asian, or Native American main characters. Meanwhile, industry data collected by publisher Lee & Low and others suggest that roughly 80 percent of the children’s book world—authors and illustrators, editors, execs, marketers, and reviewers—are white, like me.” Declares Dashka Slater, in her 2016 article entitled, The Uncomfortable Truth About Children’s Books.
This fact helped inspire my Vicky book series. My series are about a little African American girl named Vicky and her family and friends. Readers can follow along with Vicky on fun celebrations of life and learn some fun lessons on the way. My first Vicky book will be released this year.
On January 25, 2019 Multicultural Children’s Book Day will be celebrated on Twitter. This one day event celebrates diversity in kid’s literature. To find out more information click this link.
Please Like & Share. Let me know your thoughts on this blog in the comments. Have you found it challenging to find books for your children, grandchildren or other special youth in your life with family cultural dynamics that matches the child? Are you a parent or teacher who seeks to find books featuring characters written by authors of various cultural backgrounds? Are you an author?