This opinion piece about diversity in kid lit is important reading. A highlight:
The typical children’s picture books featuring black characters focus on the degradation and endurance of our people. You can fill nearly half the bookshelves in the Schomburg with children’s books about the civil rights movement, slavery, basketball players and musicians, and various “firsts.” These stories consistently paint African-Americans as the aggrieved and the conquerors, the agitators and the superheroes who fought for their right to be recognized as full human beings.Read the full article here.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate those kinds of books; our history deserves an airing with all children. But I’m not trying to have my kid float off into dreamland with visions of helping runaway slaves to freedom, or marching through a parade of barking dogs and fire hoses, or the subject matter of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” — yes, there is a children’s book devoted to this song protesting lynching.
Meanwhile, stories about the everyday beauty of being a little human being of color are scarce. Regardless of what the publishing industry seems to think, our babies don’t spend their days thinking about Harriet Tubman, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and black bodies swinging; they’re excited about what the tooth fairy will leave under their pillows, contemplating their first ride on the school bus, looking for dragons in their closets.
Illustrate and Write On,