This is an update to this post, which as written in mid 2011 because it shows statistics for children’s books published in 2011.
This Census article from March 2011, states that
More than half of the growth in the total U.S. population between 2000 and 2010 was because of the increase in the Hispanic population. Between 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic population grew by 43 percent, rising from 35.3 million in 2000 to 50.5 million in 2010. The rise in the Hispanic population accounted for more than half of the 27.3 million increase in the total U.S. population. By 2010, Hispanics comprised 16 percent of the total U.S. population of 308.7 million.
The non-Hispanic population grew relatively slower over the decade at about 5 percent. Within the non-Hispanic population, the number of people who reported their race as white alone grew even slower (1 percent). While the non-Hispanic white alone population increased numerically from 194.6 million to 196.8 million over the 10-year period, its proportion of the total population declined from 69 percent to 64 percent.
Interesting facts on their own, but then compare it to statistics like these that are independently run by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center. Click HERE to see their ongoing research on children’s book on and by people of color since 2002.
2011 saw a decline in books by and about African Americans and Latino/Hispanics, but saw a small increase in books by and about Native Americans and the breadth of Asian Americans.
If the Census is clearly showing us that Hispanics are becoming an ever present majority along with other minorities…why are they such a small percentage of these books published dedicated for minorities?
It works out so that roughly out of these 5,000 or so books published each year, only 5% of that 5,000 will be for all minorities. 16% (that means 1 in 6) of the population in the US is of Hispanic/Latino descent,. But the book statistics from show that roughly 1 in 75 books are by or about Latinos.
What about Asians? African Americans? American Indians? The numbers are equally appalling. Even more so when you realize that you have to take into consideration that there are many different nationalities that cannot be lumped up into one book. Of those yearly books on Hispanics, how many are about Mexico in comparison to Guatemala or Chile?
It is a lot to take in. It’s quite scary too. So I will be showing books that beat the odds, publishers that are making an effort, and what you can do (we can all do something!).
The most important and easiest thing to do right now, is contact your school and public libraries and demand more books that represent a diverse group of children. Contact publishing houses and ask them what they are doing to close the gap? Encourage authors and illustrators with diverse backgrounds to make books for children. The more voices they hear from, the more pressure they will have to do something. Make your voice heard, stand up for your kids and your families now.
I will begin by saying that this book is very personal for me, and in many ways. It was one of the very first books I encountered by esteemed author, Pat Mora. I had the honor of seeing her speak at a library perhaps one or two years ago. Also, when I was attending UC Riverside, the library was named for Tomas Rivera, the subject of Mora’s book. After my own research because of not know knowing, finding out who he was - that he had been the chancellor of the University, the first ever of Hispanic descent for any of the UC’s. At the same time I attended, France Cordova was the chancellor at helm at UCR as the first Latina to hold that position (she was a NASA scientist and currently the chancellor at Purdue).But also because I am a child of immigrants as well.
Tomas and the Library Lady tells of a Mexican American boy (Tomas) who travels with his family of migrant workers traveling from state to state finding work in the fields picking. While his adult family members work hard, hot, and long hours, Tomas and the other younger kids bring them water, play, and listen to stories. The kids love to hear old tales from their grandfather, but at one point he recognizes that Tomas knows all of them already, and tells Tomas to go to the library where there are more stories for him.
There the librarian checked out books under her name so that he could take the books home. Where Tomas would read the stories to his family, even grandfather, brand new stories but also ones in English. He began to learn more English from these new books, and while he was at the library, he would teach the librarian Spanish. He spent the whole summer there learning new tales, visiting new places, all through the books. It mentions of how they would visit the dump as a family at times, looking for things to keep, and how Tomas would always look for books. Tomas found whole new worlds to explore through the books.
When the picking season comes to an end, the family has to leave, and Tomas sadly goes to the librarian and tells her that he is leaving. But he takes with him a breadth of memories, stories, and a brand new book she gave him to take on the road.
The illustrations are soft watercolor/pencil type drawings that give each character their own personalities. Best suited for maybe Kindergarten and higher since the story is not particularly short.
This story may seem simple at first, but go ahead and read on more about Tomas Rivera and see what he did and what he became up until the time of his death. He was an author, poet, and educator amongst other things. We need to find books like these to set examples for children that there are many different types of career possibilities that are not just for white children to dream about. Pat Mora is an amazing author to convey ideas like this.
What I loved about hearing Pat Mora speak was her emphasis on what he called creating a family of readers. Because essentially, that is the best and most effective way to think of it. A family reading together, learns and grows together. A child alone, well, they find the road much bumpier. Mora is also the creator of El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day) which tries to connect books to children and families. Pat Mora has a large catalog of different types of books that I think you will enjoy. Have you read any of her books, including Tomas and the Library Lady? What do you think of them or this?
Check out this interactive map provided by the 2010 Census showing how the population in the United States is distributed
Note the bottom right statistic in the change of Hispanic population by each state. Nevada saw the most increase in population of all 50 states - and the Hispanic population there grew about 80%
Also available to view HERE with other statistics