From the Editor (April 2015): Why EVERY Classroom and Library Needs Diverse Books
This month’s CLCD Newsletter celebrates diversity in children’s and young adult literature. My hope is that our readers already understand why this is important, but there may be some who think that diverse literature is not important to them because the patrons they serve or the students they teach are not-so-diverse. Allow me to explain why every classroom and library needs diverse books:
First and foremost, your shelves should be stocked with diverse books because the world is a diverse place. In 2013, African-Americans, Asians, Latinos, and Native Americans made up 37% of the U.S. population, yet they made up only about 10% of the people in the children’s books being published that same year. So even if your collection has the same level of diversity as the books available for purchase, you are presenting the children you serve with a horribly skewed representation of the world. You owe it to them to offer books that are representative of the world outside your immediate community.
Another reason to seek out diverse books is that the children you serve (and their families) are almost certainly more diverse than you realize. You may be able to identify a child’s race or their disability, but you may never know their ethnic background, their religion, or their sexual orientation. You are even less likely to know the race, ethnicity, religion, disabilities, or sexual orientations of their parents and extended family members. Indeed, the smaller and less diverse your community is, the more likely children are to hide the things that make them different. Your book selections should account for the diversity that is invisible to you. Based on my personal experience, I can assure you that once you start to offer more diverse books, you will start to see more diversity in children you serve.