Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Children’s literature: ‘Too white’ among other things

At Call and Response/UUA Blogs, Susan Lawrence raises a thought-provoking and timely question, “Is Children’s Literature Too White?” The statistics she cites concerning racial and ethnic authorship and representation in children’s literature suggests the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

This essay doubly resonated with me, both as Religious Explorations administrative coordinator for a Unitarian Universalist church and as an aspiring librarian who is, herself, a member of an “invisible” minority demographic.

I was intrigued by Lawrence’s assertion that it was “laughably easy” to assemble a home library of books that featured “brown-skinned protagonists.”

What I especially took from this essay was that when seeking to build a library that serves a diverse readership, I will need to dig beyond the “same, few, popular children’s books” that receive the bulk of publicity.

To truly shape a library collection that serves a pluralistic society, I will need to seek works by emerging and less well-known authors. And I appreciate the We Need Diverse Books initiative for helping to connect diverse authors with an appreciative readership.

Lawrence’s essay is compelling, and I share her concern for the demographic that she singles out. But when stocking a library, I will have to consider other reader demographics too.

I would like to add that whatever a child’s race, whatever their gender or level of ability, it is equally important for children to be exposed to stories that mirror their experience. And it is crucially important that children in the majority be exposed to books that serve as respectful, accurate “windows” into other realities.

1 comment:

  1. Among my "many hats," I am both an aspiring librarian and Religious Explorations administrative coordinator for a Unitarian Universalist church. Here is my response to an essay that resonated in both of those professional capacities.


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