Despite the fact that approximately 25 percent of all school children in America today are Hispanic, children’s books continue to be dominated by whites. According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, only three percent of children’s books are by or about Latinos.
Because of the trend, Latino children are struggling to relate to characters in their books due to differences in appearance, according to a report from NPR.
The article states that Latino students may not receive the message that they “can be anything” as strongly as their white peers because they rarely see characters in their books that have appearances similar to their own
While some believe that books targeted toward a white audience sells better, Andrew Karre, an editor with Lerner books, believes that “there is an enormous amount of demand for this kind of content from libraries.” Karr said librarians are constantly trying to diversify the texts on their shelves, but often struggle to do so due to the predominately white nature of children’s books.
Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, author of Bad News for Outlaws, is just one example of a book about non-whites that has achieved great commercial success. The book features African-American characters, and, according to Nelson, “young people need to see themselves represented on the page so that they will continue reading.”
With nearly half of today’s children under five years old being non-white, the demand for more “minority literature” will only increase with time.
(Photo by Librarian in Black via Flickr)