Saturday, June 28, 2014

People of Color Missing from Kids' Books

Shockingly few children's books published in the United States are by or about people of color.

The Cooperative Children's Book Center at the University of Wisconsin's School of Education has been counting since 1985. The Center studied 3200 children's books published in the U.S. in 2013. Only 253 were about people of color. That's, um, just under 8%. Let's combine those numbers with this data from the Census Bureau about the population in 2010.

Children's Books in 2013
Africans or African Americans American IndiansAsian Pacifics or Asian Pacific AmericansLatinos
Children's books about someone from this group 93 346957
Percent of the total books studied (3200)2.9%1.5%2.2%1.8%
Children's books written by or illustrated by someone from this group68189048
Percent of the total books studied (3200)2.1%0.6%2.8%1.5%

Population in 2010
Black or African AmericanAmerican Indian or Alaska NativeAsian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific IslanderTwo or more races or another race other than white)Hispanic or Latino (of any race)
Percent of total population12.6%0.9%5.0%9.1%16.3%

It's not quite as bad as the numbers look. Some of the books that are not about people of color are not about white people either: they're about dinosaurs or trucks or trains or penguins or something else. Not all children's books are about people at all. Still, the imbalance in the numbers is disturbing.

The Cooperative Children's Book Center offers Multicultural Literature lists to help people find some of the good children's books that are about people of color.

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