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 Times‘ article 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:
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.
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