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Raising a Diverse Reader

Visual representation of 2018 statistics re: representation in children's literature

June 9, 2020

With recent events in America, it is more important than ever to expose young children to people of all races and ethnicities. It is never too early to start talking to children about race and its place in our country. Parents, caregivers, and educators have the power and responsibility to broaden children's understanding of the world. Talking about race may be intimidating and uncomfortable, so check out this great article by embracerace.org that gives small talking points and advice on how to start the conversation with children.

Representation in children's books is very unequal. Studies show that children need to see people that look like them in books and other media to form a positive self image and self esteem. This infographic from 2018 shows the large gap in diversity and representation found in children's literature and media (to see a larger version of this image, click here). While this may seem like a large gap, representation has actually grown since the original study done in 2015! In 2015, 73.3% of children's books featured white children, 12.5% of books featured animals, inanimate objects (trucks, etc.); 7.6% African/African American; 3.3% Asian Pacific/Asian Pacific Americans; only 2.4% Latinx; and 0.9% American Indian/First Nations. You can see a growth in minority representation in only three years, which is great, but there is more work to be done for equal representation and diversity in children's literature and media.

To add some diversity to your reading collection, check out these award-winning children’s titles that feature African American children from your local MCPL. Books act as windows into the lives and experiences of others. Reading is one of the best ways to broaden a child’s worldview. Need more? Our staff is always more than happy to help you find books featuring diverse characters, by diverse authors.

Public libraries are for everyone. Our goal is to have books featuring authors and characters of all different races, ethnicities, and walks of life. We all have the power to make our community, country, and world a better place. It can start by, and be as simple as, sharing a book with a child.



Image Citation: Huyck, David and Sarah Park Dahlen. (2019 June 19). Diversity in Children’s Books 2018. sarahpark.com blog. Created in consultation with Edith Campbell, Molly Beth Griffin, K. T. Horning, Debbie Reese, Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, and Madeline Tyner, with statistics compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison: http://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/books/pcstats.asp. Retrieved from http://readingspark.wordpress.com/2019/06/19/picture-this-diversity-in-childrens-books-2018-infographic/.


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image credit: MCPL/Content Cafe