Were Youth Books Truly Diverse in 2018?

I am pleased to see the new 2018 Diversity in Children's Book 2018 infographic from the team of Sarah Park Dahlen and David Huyck based on the astounding work of the staff at the CCBC at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a star-studded consulting group of #diversityjedi.

Huyck, David and Sarah Park Dahlen. (2019 June 19). Diversity in Children’s Books 2018. sarahpark.com blog. Created in consultation with Edith Campbell, Molly Beth Griffin, K. T. Horning, Debbie Reese, Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, and Madeline Tyner, with statistics compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison: http://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/books/pcstats.asp. Retrieved from https://readingspark.wordpress.com/2019/06/19/picture-this-diversity-in-childrens-books-2018-infographic/
Released for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0 license). You are free to use this infographic in any of your work, including presentations and published work, so long as you provide the full citation noted above.

Below is the first version of this graphic done by this team looking at 2015 books:
Huyck, David, Sarah Park Dahlen, Molly Beth Griffin. (2016 September 14). Diversity in Children’s Books 2015 infographic. sarahpark.com blog. Retrieved from https://readingspark.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/picture-this-reflecting-diversity-in-childrens-book-publishing/ Statistics compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin Madison: http://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/books/pcstats.asp
Released for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 license

What do I note in those three years? Ahem, we ALL have some work to do.

While the percentage of books depicting white characters decreased, characters who were animals, animated inanimate objects and other more than doubled. So it makes me wonder if we are seeing hesitation from non-#ownvoices authors on how to navigate the call for more truly diverse books.

While doubling of books published with LatinX and Asian Pacific Islander/Asian Pacific American characters is great to see, I can't help feeling that doubling of almost nothing (2.4% to 5% and 3.3% to 7%) is way too small a gain.

What can we do to keep the focus on the need for more diverse books?

  • Highlight  - booktalk them, put them in displays and face-out on shelving, use them in programming and in outreach collections, include them in booklists - and think twice before you weed them. Will you see another delightful book about a family's celebration of tasty roti like F. Zia and Ken Min's Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji (Lee and Low, 2011)?
  • Advocate - let your salespeople, jobbers and the publishers know that you appreciate the diverse #ownvoices books they are and have published.  Ask for more and say why it matters. Advocate with your colleagues, stand up and be an ally for diversity and #ownvoices. The more the publishers hear, the better. 
Never think your voice is not enough. Together we CAN make a difference and make sure that all children have the chance to see and experience mirrors and sliding glass doors and find themselves in our youth literature.

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