People of color make up close to 40 percent of the current U.S. population, so what would you do about the desert in children’s literature where fewer than one in ten books feature multi-cultural characters or themes? That question framed the American Library Association’s “Day of Diversity” last month as participants dug into a problem whose contours have barely changed in half a century.
Organizers challenged librarians, publishers, writers, editors, booksellers and educators at the Chicago meeting to come up with ways to increase diversity on the typical American child’s bookshelf. Children’s author Elizabeth Bluemle plucked seven audience suggestions for her Publishers Weekly blog, each capable of yielding immediate, tangible results:
1) Adopt a classroom.
2) Buy a book by an author of color featuring a main protagonist of color.
3) Go further and shift your reading habits.
4) Help a teacher.
5) Partner up.
6) Chat with a librarian.
7) Make books your birthday gifts.