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Children's literature stuck in the past: Why is there still a lack of diversity in books for kids?

Why do you think there is a lack of diversity in children's books?
Why do you think there is a lack of diversity in children's books?
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A recent report from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that despite the increasing diversity in the U.S., the number of children’s books written by or about people of color continues to be very low. The CCBC found that of the 3,600 books it received in 2012, 68 were by African Americans and 119 were about African Americans. Just 54 of the 3,600 were about Latinos.

The CCBC started keeping statistics on the number of books in the U.S. by and about minorities in 1994. That year, the numbers were proportionally about the same—of the 4,500 books the library received, 166 were about African Americans and 90 were about Latinos—and they have stayed fairly consistent since the CCBC started keeping track of the numbers. Some argue that there simply isn’t a large enough demand for editors and publishers to create books that feature main characters of color. While others would argue that there can’t be a demand for something that’s not on the market. 

Why is it that the majority of characters in books and movies continue to be white despite an increasingly diverse population? Is the demand lacking? How can we get more character diversity in these books? How do children benefit from seeing themselves reflected in books or movies?


Kathleen T. Horning, Director, Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Daniel Nayeri, Digital editorial director, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Group

Kadir Nelson, author, 2012 Coretta Scott King Award recipient

Bring the family to KPCC's #KidReads Live! On Saturday, July 20, from 10:30 a.m. to noon, KPCC's early childhood development correspondent Deepa Fernandes moderates a fun and interactive program to encourage children to read. Click here to RSVP.

And kids, what's your favorite book? Click here to learn more about KPCC's #KidReads program.