Diversity in Children’s Books

Applied ICDChildren’s books reflect the adult world, sometimes in unexpected ways. In a college course on children’s literature, I studied the ways in which children’s books dealt with serious issues (such as death). Since then I’ve paid a lot of attention to children’s books, so when I saw this infographic, I paid attention. You should too.

Full citation: Huyck, David and Sarah Park Dahlen. (2019 June 19). Diversity in Children’s Books 2018. sarahpark.com blog. Created in consultation with Edith Campbell, Molly Beth Griffin, K. T. Horning, Debbie Reese, Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, and Madeline Tyner, with statistics compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison: http://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/books/pcstats.asp. Retrieved from https://readingspark.wordpress.com/2019/06/19/picture-this-diversity-in-childrens-books-2018-infographic/.

This seems to show an over-representation of White children at 50%, but now look at comparable figures for 2015:

Full citation: Huyck, David, Sarah Park Dahlen, Molly Beth Griffin. (2016 September 14). Diversity in Children’s Books 2015 infographic. sarahpark.com blog.
Retrieved from https://readingspark.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/picture-this-reflecting-diversity-in-childrens-book-publishing/
Statistics compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison:
http://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/books/pcstats.asp

Even though the number of white protagonists in children’s books has gone down over the 3 years examined, this doesn’t actually show as much increase in diverse protagonists as it might – the largest gain was in the category of “animals, trucks, etc.”! Obviously there are a lot of children’s books with diverse protagonists still needing to be written, so that all children get to see themselves represented.

Further reading:

Durand, E. S., & Jiménez-García, M. (2018). Unsettling representations of identities: A critical review of diverse youth literature. Research on Diversity in Youth Literature, 1(1 ), Article 7.

Naidoo, J. C., & Dahlen, S. P. (Eds). (2013) Diversity in youth literature: Opening doors through reading. Chicago: ALA Editions.

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, Director
Center for Intercultural Dialogue

Author: Center for Intercultural Dialogue

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, the Director of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue, manages this website.

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