It is obvious the power publishers have in deciding what content, and whether diverse content, makes it to the marketplace. However, librarians, parents, grandparents, book store owners and teachers are also gatekeepers. Librarians can decide where to direct visitors, parents can choose to purchase books with multicultural characters and teachers can expose their students to ethnically and culturally diverse material. Each of these roles either perpetuates the lack of diversity in children's literature or transcends it by promoting a variety of books that celebrate diversity.
It is adult biases that eventually make their way to children and to the books put in their hand. It is therefore up to adults to make a deliberate stance to support literature that present positive images of characters from all over the world, from every race and cultural background. Otherwise, the cycle continues and another generation will repeat the same patterns. Patterns need to be broken because access to diverse representations in books is a crucial developmental necessity for children.
Flavor Wire writes, "Books allow children to peek into each other’s worlds, and also to find an affirming reflection of themselves, a curricular concept often referred to as “windows and mirrors.” 'Boys need to see girls play sports. Girls need to see other girls play sports. White children need to see black, Asian, and Latino children as princesses and soccer players,' says Lori L. Tharps, a novelist and journalist who speaks and writes about race in publishing. 'Black children need to not only see slave stories. They need to see little black children on dragons." Children need to see images of comfort, their world reflected in pictures, but also images of inspiration and imagination. Essentially, these are not just pictures on a page, they tell our children who they are and who they can become. If we deprive children of this visualization of themselves, we simply deny them wonder and magic.
We, as parents and teachers, need to make this change internally today. We need to address and let go of our biases, many of which have been placed upon us through societal norms. We need to give our children a fresh perspective on what it means to live in the world of today. Even if diversity is not the standard within children’s books as it should be, it is that very fact that makes taking on the responsibility of what we present to our children even more important. Little Proud Kid also believes deeply in this great responsibility; will you join us? In October 2015, Little Proud Kid will launch a Crowdfunding campaign as the first step in changing how minority and multicultural children see themselves in the world. Visit our website at www.littleproudkid.com and sign up to receive updates on our upcoming campaign.
Little Proud Kid
A place to celebrate all people… one people. We focus on bringing an array of multicultural toys, books, resources and more to help you teach and celebrate the uniqueness in each and every child.