How Diverse Books Make a Difference for Everyone
News If we want to see all of our kids become strong readers, we need books that reflect our diversity.
Why It Matters
Diverse characters are scarce in kids' books. In a survery of 3,500 titles:
5.1% were about African-Americans
3.2% were about Asian-Pacific Americans
1.9% were about Latinos
1.1% were about Native Americans
Source: Cooperative Children's Book Center, 2015
For more than two decades, researchers have documented the now widely accepted educational reality: In order for children to excel, they need content that reflects their culture. This is particularly critical for children from minority segments who are over-represented among low-income populations.
Reading to learn
In a survey of 175,000 educators, 90 percent of respondents agreed their students would be more enthusiastic readers if they had books that reflected their lives. When children read more, the greater the likelihood that they will succeed in school and, subsequently, in life.
Unfortunately, the lack of diversity in children’s books is staggering. In a survey of 3,500 children’s books reviewed by Cooperative Children’s Book Center, a mere 11 percent of those books were about people of color. Yet over 58 percent of low-income children are from these populations.
The impact doesn’t end there. In this multicultural world, all children need access to books that reflect the world’s diversity to build empathy and gain experience with other cultures; what children's literature scholar Rudine Sims Bishop called providing “windows and mirrors.” That includes subjects ranging from different regions and ethnicities, to family structures, orientation, abilities and experiences.
"Diverse books promote empathy and inclusivity with stories that help all children see and celebrate their differences and similarities."
The marketplace is beginning to respond, increasing inclusivity in children’s literature by working with publishers and educators to create a viable market for diverse books while also advocating programs to produce and promote diverse literature.
Every day, around the country and around the world, there is a critical need to further our human understanding. Diverse books promote empathy and inclusivity with stories that help all children see and celebrate their differences and similarities.