Thursday, August 27, 2009
Encouraging Color in Kids' Books
Elizabeth Bluemle has a great post on Shelftalker about how difficult it still is to find children's books featuring black kids. Yes, of course we can all name some right off the bat - Karen English's "Nikki and Deja" series and Nikki Grimes' Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel (hey, did English name her character after Grimes?) for younger readers; Christopher Paul Curtis and Jacqueline Woodson for middle-grade readers; Walter Dean Myers and Sharon Draper for teens - and so on. Still, that's a drop in the bucket compared to books about white kids.
There's been a lot of buzz and controversy about this recently, from the cover of Justine Larbalestier's Liar (which Bluemle touches on in her post) to Color Online's Color Me Brown contest, which asks readers to submit reviews of books featuring people of color to a couple of posts by Charlotte of Charlotte's Library - an older post about the lack of color in fantasy and SF for kids and a new one about the lack of diversity in SF. Oh, and don't forget the SLJ article by Mitali Perkins on "Straight Talk On Race."
A YA librarian I know wishes she could find more YA books about black kids that don't involve guns, gangs, drugs, and teenage pregnancy. The middle-class black teens in her library's community are reading all kinds of stuff - including urban fiction - with great relish, but they aren't finding much that reflects themselves.
I'm thankful for this discussion, as it makes me remember how important it is for librarians to read all kinds of books, including and especially books featuring kids of color, so that we can promote them more effectively to our colleagues and patrons.
Posted by Eva M