There's a Maasai greeting: "And how are the children?" So simple, and rightfully centered on our children because if they are well....well then...
I remember a lesson from a high school literature class: How can we mistreat the very people who's primary function is to care for our children... whom, by many measures, represent and reflect the best of what we do in life? We're talking women... teachers... the list goes on. Back in the day, women weren't even educated but were responsible for our children's education. And how this model was justified during the American slavery era... raising & nursing the master's children... is beyond our comprehension...but many things are.
Of all our creative projects, the space I enjoy the most is the kid lit space. As a newbie writer, I've spent a lot of time researching kid lit resources and looking for the spaces where a conscious effort to elevate all stories was mission critical. According to the Cooperative Children's Book Center, this was the state of children's literature in 2015:
Seriously, animals/trucks have the same level of representation as Blacks, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Latinxs and Native Americans combined? If we examine the cultural markers of those animals and trucks... bet they reflect that 73.3% number for Whites... And when we start looking at who is telling the stories of that marginalized 15% - 25%, more often than not, it's not the marginalized.
In general, we cringe when we hear about any corporate attempt at "diversification." All that aside, we were struck by the honesty of a particular blog post by a woman who's primary function was to increase "diversity" in the children's book division of her publishing house (I cannot find the article but if you happen across it, please, please share with us @MultiPATRIOT). She admitted that she was not equipped to do her job alone....and that nobody was because no single person could possibly know how to identify and elevate all the different voices that needed to be elevated. She was determined to find creators with lived experiences that could create authentic stories. Another amazing women we discovered on twitter was Debbie Reese, publisher of American Indians in Children's Literature. Ms. Reese tweeted:
Kit Lit Resources:
Associations & Advocates:
Kid Lit Awards:
Please see Database of Award-Winning Children's Literature (DAWCL) administered by Lisa R. Bartle for more awards.
Kid Lit Articles: Diversity, Inclusion & How-to's
Comics & Kid Lit
Guides for Parents and Teachers:
Kit Lit Publishers:
It's not about "tackling" race/ethnicity because, like my hair, my race does not need to be tamed or tackled. It's about sharing our full selves and creating a world where our children can feel to do the same. We are always adding to these resources so please feel free to share your discoveries @MultiPATRIOT.
Thank you for reading.
Kid Lit Twitter Directory:
- Colours of Us: @coloursofus
- Ebony Elizabeth: @Ebonyteach
- Josh Funk: @joshfunkbooks
- kidlitart: @kidlitart
- kidlitchat: @kidlitchat
- Lee & Low Books: @LEEandLOW
- Multicultural Children's Book Day: @MCChildsBookDay
- Lin Oliver: @linoliver
- Pragmatic Mom: @pragmaticmom
- Debbie Ridpath Ohi: @inkyelbows
- Deb Reese: @debreese
- John Schumacher: @MrSchuReads
- Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators: @scbwi
- We Need Diverse Books: @diversebooks
- Gene Luen Yang: @geneluenyang