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While classic children’s books will always hold a special place in the literary world, most of these stories tend to share something in common: lack of diversity. The characters, content, or creators usually fit traditional molds, such as being heterosexual or white.
The problem with this is that children from minority groups are not seeing themselves portrayed in literature or seeing people who are like them succeed in the publishing industry. In fact, this reality sparked the organization of the nonprofit We Need Diverse Books™.
Diversity in Children’s Books
Books have a powerful effect on readers. They not only expand knowledge but also encourage empathy and action in youth. The more diversity there is in literature, the more children will be exposed to different cultures and ideas. This understanding leads to less fear and prejudice toward others.
All children benefit from these effects, but those who come from diverse backgrounds also receive validation that their stories are worth writing about and reading. They are also more likely to be interested in reading books that reflect their stories and to connect to the characters and themes.
Diversity in Children’s Authors
However, it’s not enough just to have more diverse books. It also matters that authors are diverse, especially those who are telling minority stories. Literature is more powerful when the writer has lived the experience he or she is writing about and/or shares a common identity with the protagonist. While there is nothing wrong with authors writing outside their own life experiences, their lack of firsthand understanding is more likely to lead to harmful stereotypes and limited points of view.
How You Can Contribute to Diversity
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