Books, Kids

Lack of Diversity in Children’s Lit: 5 Things You Can Do

July 9, 2013


I found this image on Facebook. The original source is First Book, illustrated by Tina Kugler and shared by Latinas for Latino Literature. I was taken by surprise at the numbers and wondered, how can this be?! Why is it important? It is important for all children to be able to read about others having the same experiences as they are, to be able to relate, and to see their culture represented fairly in books; all of this engages kids and encourages them to keep reading.

For now. It simply is. Dedicated to find the positives and encouraging you to take an active role in the education of the children around you (godparents, grandparents, tias y tios too!), here are 5 things Latinos can do to help change this reality.

1) Buy the books you find by Latino authors. It is no secret that for businesses (including publishers) it is all about supply and demand. Talk to your favorite book store and ask for what you are looking for: diversity in children’s books.

2) Check out the books you find by Latino authors at your local library and speak to your librarians about getting some more of these books in! Our librarians have searched high and low for books on Day of the Dead and las posadas. They are so willing to help out!

3) Even if the book is translated, I encourage you to buy Spanish language books . We have Mo Willems, Eric Carle, and Dr. Seuss translated. Someone will notice that Spanish books are important to us. We have Ezra Jack Keats and P.D Eastman too.

4) Encourage your children to read and write as much as possible. Model the behavior. Talk about your favorite Latino authors and show them the books available to you. Have older children share the books they personally create with younger kids and other family members.

5) Encourage your children to pick up books with diverse characters! As you can see above, African-Americas, Native-American and other minorities are few but out there. Support all authors who include multi-cultural characters in their books.

All kids deserve to see diversity in their books! Whether you are Latino or not, we need to learn about each other. White, Black, Latino and Asian…there is so much to share!

Any other ideas on how we can fix this problem? Please let us know in the comments below!

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  • Reply Nina July 9, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    You are so right; I hadn’t considered the diversity of the books we read. I’ll have to do my own polling through our books to see just what my son is reading these days 🙂 We do a lot of your #3 tip, namely buying/borrowing books in Spanish. We don’t get to do it much any more because my son has lost most of his Spanish already (shame, I know!) but I’m hoping that my twins will be better about it since their caregiver will be speaking to them in Spanish.
    Nina recently posted..Dealing with your child’s sadnessMy Profile

    • Betty
      Reply Betty July 10, 2013 at 9:38 pm

      Don’t give up Nina!! We bounce back and forth so much that Diego loses practice and then regains his Spanish when we really stay on top of it. I think he’s a little older than your son. The younger the better! Let us know how it goes!!
      Betty recently posted..The Framework: Why I BlogMy Profile

  • Reply Bella Vida Letty July 9, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    I agree we must be more concious of where we spend our money and the impact our purchases have.
    Bella Vida Letty recently posted..An Experiment: Opening Up to Guest BloggingMy Profile

    • Betty
      Reply Betty July 10, 2013 at 9:41 pm

      Yes yes yes!! We have to buy these books. We have a saying in our home, “Buying books is an investment, not an expense.” Thanks for stopping by!
      Betty recently posted..The Framework: Why I BlogMy Profile

  • Reply Maria July 9, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Great post!

    I agree that buying books by Latino authors and checking them out at our local library are two really, really important steps because the act sends a strong message: the Latino community WANTS these books, that we are avid readers and that we have money to spend, so long as they cater to our community. I recently did this while deciding whether to order Ingrid Hoffman’s new cookbook Latin D’Lite in English or Spanish – I decided on Spanish with the sole purpose of wanting to see IT rise to the best sellers list as opposed to the English version. I have to admit though, reading the English one would have been much easier, I don’t know a lot of the names for the ingredients in Spanish. So, I took it as a learning opportunity to learn my language better and to feel more at ease with Spanish cookbooks. I’m glad I did, more than just learning new dishes, I’ve learned a lot of new Spanish words!

    Also, at our local libraries checking out books by Latino authors is an excellent thing to do, but even better is submitting requests, not just to a particular librarian, who may or may not spread the word, but also emailing the library or submitting an electronic request for a particular book, DVD, CD, etc.

    Also, making a book donation of our favorite Latino author is another fabulous way of bolstering our local library’s supply of Latino authors. At our library when we do this we get the distinguished honor of having a name plate (albeit, a sticker) placed in the very first page of the book identifying the donors of the book gift, another great way to have our Latino last names become more of a common sight at our local libraries.

  • Betty
    Reply Betty July 10, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    Maria, thank you for the tips. I support what you say about going above and beyond with your local library. I had not thought about that!

    We did donate to our school’s library though. Even though they do a great job at carrying very diverse books, when the book fair took place, I made sure to buy the new books by Latino authors. The librarians also put a sticker identifying the donor and later showed my son what he contributed. He was sooo proud! He checked them out even though we own them too!!

    Congrats on the cookbook read! And thanks for commenting!
    Betty recently posted..The Framework: Why I BlogMy Profile

  • Reply Top 13 Parenting Posts of 2013 | Sleeping Should Be Easy December 29, 2013 at 6:00 am

    […] people of color (and where race isn’t the main point) This post was inspired by another one from My Friend Betty Says where Betty encouraged her readers to check out children’s books with people of color. […]

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