Books are printed on white pages, and a new survey shows that their contents are similarly blanched. Last year, 3,200 children's books were published — and only 93 were about black characters.
And it's not a one-off problem. The Cooperative Children's Book Center School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been collecting data on children's books written about people of color since 1994 — in the last 20 years, the ratio hasn't improved at all.
This infographic, by independent publisher Lee & Low Books, shows that the percentage of children's books by, and or about kids of color has hovered around the 10% mark consistently since the early '90s, despite that people of color comprise 37% of the U.S. population.
We need people of color in all stories, not just stories about oppression or racism. Why is that hard to create? #colormyshelf— Laura Matheny (@musingteacher) March 16, 2014
Diversity is not a subgenre. It's a fact of life. It is as essential as the camera is to films and words are to literature. #colormyshelf— Ardo the O-some (@ArdoOmer) March 17, 2014
I try to find my daughters books with non-white protagonists -- or at least a world that's recognizably diverse. It's dismayingly difficult.— Jennifer Weiner (@jenniferweiner) March 16, 2014
By 2043, "minority" groups are expected to become the majority of the U.S. population. Hopefully by then, children's books will have turned a page toward a more diverse representation of the world they depict and the imagination they foster.