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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Culture > Books > Looks like children’s book publishers need longer time-out to improve diversity in titles

Looks like children’s book publishers need longer time-out to improve diversity in titles

LatinaLista — In 1994, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison began to keep track of the diversity in children’s literature. The cooperative didn’t just want to know how many books were authored by American Indians, Asian/Pacifics and Asian/Pacific Americans, and Latinos but how many children’s books were about each group, including those stories about children of color written by white authors and/or illustrators.

As a New York Timesarticle revealed several years ago, the representation has historically not been good. And according to the latest statistics, it remains a challenge for the children’s book publishing industry.

It’s no easy task for members of the cooperative to go through the hundreds of titles of picture books, novels and non-fiction. For example, some books featuring Latinos can easily be classified into two categories:

Our Latino log, for example, is organized by specific region and then country or heritage group within it, so a book about a Cuban American child, or a book about or set in the Domincan Republic or Mexico, is recorded as such. A book about Aztec people living in Mexico would be recorded in both the American Indian and Latino logs.

Yet, even with the cross-categorizing, the numbers still remain low “for a group that made up 50.4% of the nation’s population younger than age 1 on July 1, 2011.” The 2014 statistics for diversity in children’s literature reveal:

Latinos:

66 books were about Latinos
36 of these were written and/or illustrated by Latino book creators

23 books were by Latino book creators but had no significant Latino cultural content

Africans and African Americans:

179 books were about Africans/African Americans
69 of these were written and/or illustrated by Black book creators

15 books were by Black book creators but had no signficant African/African American cultual content.

American Indians:

36 books were about American Indians
15 of these were written and/or illustrated by Native book creators.

2 books were by Native book creators but had no signficant American Indian cultural content

Asian Pacifics and Asian Pacific Americans:

112 books were about Asian Pacifics/Asian Pacific Americans
48 of these were written and/or illustrated by Asian Pacific book creators

80 books were by Asian Pacific book creators but had no significant Asian Pacific cultural content

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