Despite not being on Twitter, I seem to keep up pretty well – especially since many in the blogosphere like to post about exciting tweets. #WeNeedDiverseBooks is a social media campaign by folks in kid lit championing more diversity in children’s books. According to one survey mentioned, only 7.5% of 3,600 titles featured characters of color.
I’ve posted about this before , most recently in March. A great list of books – and a link to #WeNeedDiverseBooks – can be found at Children’s Literature@NYPL in an article/blog post from their newsletter. The article lists several fantastic books, among them titles by Louise Erdrich, Jacqueline Woodson, Sanjay Patel, and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, but some of my favorites are missing.
While I love books that put characters of color front and center, especially in the context of their own experiences, what about those books that are even more universal? Where the story is one anyone can relate to, but the protagonist is depicted as being of color, sometimes subtly, sometimes incidentally, but always positively?
Books like those of Ezra Jack Keats. Or one of my all-time favorites, Rukhsana Khan’s Big Red Lollipop, delightfully illustrated by Sophie Blackall. Or the great middle grade novels One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Garcia-Williams. I Lost my Tooth in Africa jumps off my displays every time I put it out – taken by children of all cultures and colors. (Of course it does with such a great title!)
Hmm, what other books do I love with wonderful characters that reflect our wonderful world? What books do you love?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go figure out if it’s time to hop on the Twitter bus.