Saturday, June 29, 2013

Equality in Children's Books

illustration depicting books reviewed by the CCBC in 2012 by Tina Kugler


Anonymous said...

Partially, these stats are due to the fact that writers write what they know. It's our first and most powerful lesson. So as authors, our children's stories reflect our own childhood experiences, life experiences, families, etc. even if at times only symbolically. And that's the way it should be, we should write what we know. So, the real revelation in these numbers is something more: they highlight how few minorities (percentage wise) choose to be authors, and writers of children's books even less so. It's a deeper sociological issue, multifaceted, and taps into educational issues and trends, professional tracts and pursuits of minorities, creative and artistic fields and the minority experience within them, etc. So much is revealed in those numbers - far beyond, and probably different from "equality".

Julie said...

When you say "choose to be authors" you get my attention. It's a little like saying that there are fewer minorities choosing to be interns after graduating from college. I think you are right. There is more here than just the numbers.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree, Julie!! And, you're right, I did not state that very clearly, it did sound kind of bad the way I wrote it in a rush. Sorry about that. I LOVE your blog, just discovered it recently and appreciate it so much. What I meant to get at, is there is definitely a disparity in the numbers of minority children's authors relative to their numbers in the U.S. population compared to the same ratios found in the majority group. And, clearly it shows in the books when they are scrutinized in that particular way (like the cartoon portrayed.). It's something to be studied at at a deeper level, as to why, though. But, I do think that authors/illustrators write what they know -- they have to. Authenticity is everything. So I was a little taken aback by the cartoon. I think it's possible that it's true message was about something far different than it appeared. Most children's literature, the primary themes and messages, particularly in picture books, rise so far above racial issues, socio- politics, etc... that it beautifully, and almost always, transcends the weight of socio-racial-politics, and I think the industry should be applauded fro that. And the children, of all backgrounds, are fantastically nourished by their experience of the breadth of work out there these days, and by what the industry as a whole has created in the past decade or so. Writers and artists are naturally open and sensitive people, and are sensitive and careful when it comes to socio-political issues. I think all the wonderful children's books out there, from contemporary times, are a testament to that sensitivity. So many books are universal in theme, animals as main characters must be a HUGE percentage... and nature, landscapes, holidays, school, family, friendship, seasons, legends, fantasy, goofy humor, and all the themes and sensibilities that are universal to children tend to be the best sellers and tend to be the ones that get published. So I think that cartoon might have presented a skewed and unfair message. But mostly, I just want to say thanks again for a wonderful blog, so many great things you've been posting. I'm so happy to have found it!! Did not mean to offend you or anyone, but kind of thought I ought to put a defense, or a clarification, or an alternate view point out there when I saw that cartoon. Thanks again for what you provide here, it's fantastic !!!!!! --Jill