Telling our Real Story

The call for #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #WeNeedDiverseAuthors can be heard loudly over social media and has been gaining increased publicity lately. And why not, the more this issue is discussed the more it can be made apparent that a lack of diverse views and people in literature isn’t an honest portrayal. And there is no other time more influential when the diversity of characters is needed than for children and young adults.

These feelings were sparked after reading an article in the Huffington Post, “It’s Hard to Be What you Can’t See”. The article examines representation in children’s books and finds that “even as the number of Americans of color has continued to grow rapidly, the percentage of books reflecting them has not: with the annual total hovering around 10 percent” since studies began in 1994. The article goes on to reiterate the fact that not only is it important for children to feel accurately represented in the books that they read but for everyone to be able to embrace the diversity around them.

At some point it becomes important to think about what message we are passing to children by not allowing them to identify with images while simultaneously encouraging them to read. Are we creating the best space for children to feel encouraged in learning? Not simply whether we are tolerant of other cultures, colors and conformities, but are we really open to learning from others, crying and laughing with others and representing our true selves?

We desperately want all children to aspire to be strong compassionate and understanding adults. We want all children to be able to see a life for themselves beyond K-12, and college, but is there a vision for them to focus on? Are there narratives within literature that can help to inspire them?

We must highlight the importance of more diverse books in order to show the real story.

 

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