The United States is a mosaic of different ethnicities. It only makes sense for the books being published to be just as diverse. However, the majority of children’s literature is still written by the white population and about the white population (Slater, 2016). According to The Uncomfortable Truth About Children’s Publishing, “Roughly 80 percent of the children’s book world – authors and illustrators, editors, execs, marketers, and reviewers – is white” (Slater 2016). Something must be done to make these other cultural backgrounds feel included.
Lee & Low Books is a publishing company working to produce more culturally diverse stories. Their mission: “To publish contemporary diverse stories that all children can enjoy” (Lee & Low Books 2016). They work tirelessly to remain at the forefront of current issues, and use these events to encourage cultural literacy (Lee & Low Books 2016). Lee & Low Books also created an award to honor unpublished authors of color (Lee & Low Books 2016). With their focus on children and learning, they have provided many resources in several languages and formats for teachers to use including guides and reading level calculators (Lee & Low Books 2016). These resources should help librarians, teachers, and parents provide access to materials to all children. While Lee & Low Books may be an independent publisher, bigger publishing companies can follow their example. Companies, like Random House and Simon & Schuster, could see an increase in sales if they published more books by authors of color and/or featured characters of color.
Ultimately, more publishing companies need to provide materials that represent all backgrounds. Even now in 2016, there is a strong need for resources on different cultures. Lee and Low Books is a great example of what large companies should integrate in their current practices. Hopefully within the next ten years, authors of color and characters of color will no longer be a trend but mainstream within the children’s book world.
Lee & Low Books. (2016, September 26). About Us. Retrieved from Lee & Low Books: https://www.leeandlow.com/about-us
Slater, D. (2016, September 1). The Uncomfortable Truth About Children’s Literature. Retrieved from Mother Jones: http://www.motherjones.com/media/2016/08/diversity-childrens-books-slavery-twitter
We Need Diverse Books. (2015, March 12). Retrieved from Pen America: The Freedom to Write: https://pen.org/sites/default/files/we-need-diverse-books-logo.jpg