Wednesday, February 4, 2015

10 Steps to Promote Diversity in Children's Literature


by Wade Hudson


This article and the Diverse Books Pledge were developed by Wade Hudson following his participation in Day of Diversity, sponsored by the Association for Library Services to Children and the Children’s Book Council during American Library Association Mid-Winter 2015.

The lack of real diversity in children’s literature is a problem that has been difficult to conquer. Many have confronted it over the years, doing what they could to effect important change. In 1920, W.E.B. DuBois, Jessie Fausett and Augustus G. Dill established The Brownies Book, a monthly magazine that writer and university associate professor Katharine Capshaw Smith cites as “the beginning of Black children’s literature.”

During the decades that followed, Langston Hughes, Arna Bontemps, Effie Lee Newsome, playwright Willis Richardson, artist Lois Mailou Jones and others continued to produce works that helped to move Black children’s literature forward. In 1965, The Council on Interracial Books for Children was formed to “promote and develop children's literature that adequately reflects a multiracial society.” In 1969, Where Does the Day Go, written by Walter Dean Myers, won a Council contest and became the celebrated author’s first published book. In 1968, To Be a Slave, by Julius Lester, illustrated by Tom Feelings, was published (and earned a 1968 Newberry Honor). Virginia Hamilton’s first book, Zeely, was published in 1969. In 1970, the Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table of the American Library Association established the Coretta Scott King Award to recognize outstanding works for children written by African Americans.

Other awards recognizing the outstanding works of writers and illustrators of color followed, including the Pura Belpré Award. During the past several decades, independent presses such as JustUs Books, Lee & Low Books, Arte Publico Press, Cinco Puntos, and others, have led the charge – dedicating their catalogs to quality books for children and young adults that reflect our nation’s diversity. Major publishers have added to the number of diverse books as well. Yet, real diversity in children’s literature remains a goal rather than a reality. (see: “Where are the People of Color in Children’s Books” by the late Walter Dean Myers.)

The truth is, children’s book publishing faces the same challenges that society faces when it comes to ethnic, racial and gender fairness, equity and justice. But, just as in society, we all must play a role if we are to make change that is transformative.

The Diverse Books Pledge below offers steps anyone can take to help ensure that literature for our children and young people is truly representative of who we are as a diverse world.




Wade Hudson is president and CEO of Just Us Books, Inc., independent publisher of children’s books that celebrate the diversity of Black people, history and culture. You can follow him on Twitter at @hudsonwade and find his books at
http://justusbooks.com (Twitter: @JustUsBooks )

2 comments:

Piers Lyman said...

Books are my best friends especially romance and educational books.
Amazon Kindle Store

Luke Forsyth said...

Each and everyone must understand that children should be loved and taken care of. They must not be abused.