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What Can Be Done to Increase Diversity in Literature for Children and Teens?


While the population of U.S. children is increasingly non-white, the representation of diverse cultures in kids’ books has remained paltry, little changed over decades. Why the gap? And what can publishers, librarians, teachers, and parents do to change this?
Librarians Have Buying Power—Let’s Use It for Change
Sandra Hughes-Hassell, Professor of library science
"The $700 million spent by librarians annually is not just a drop in the bucket, and our collective spending power can be used to move the needle in the publishing landscape toward diverse authors, characters, and books. So what are we waiting for?..."
We Need More Diverse Audio and Video Content
Andrew P. Jackson, Library director, professor of library science
"Today’s youth gravitate to YouTube, computers, and gadgets more than books. We need more diverse audio and visual material, so kids can listen and watch on their desktops and devices...."
How to Build a Bestseller with Non-White Characters
Cheryl Klein, Executive editor of children’s and YA books
"Creating a blockbuster with diverse characters requires years of commitment, collaboration, and buy-in from every segment of the publishing community...."
Write Outside Your Comfort Zone
Cynthia Leitich Smith, YA and children’s book author
"I admit it. I’ve said in confidence to more than one struggling African-American author: “You could always write about slavery or civil rights.” They all looked at me the same way I probably looked at the guy who told me to retreat in time and reach for a tomahawk...."
Diverse Books: Don’t Categorize as “Special Interest”
Ellen Oh, Adjunct college instructor, YA author
"Diverse books shouldn’t be considered special interest or shelved in a separate area, yet they are by the majority of us. I challenge all parents, caretakers, and educators to take a hard look at themselves for internalized biases that may affect the way they look at children’s books...."
Parents: Empower Kids to Tell Their Stories
Monica Olivera, Homeschooling mother, educational blogger
"Increasing diversity isn’t simply the responsibility of publishers. While they should make a conscious investment in seeking diverse voices, parents have a major role in nurturing children’s desire to tell their own stories...."