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 recently came across what could be considered a sister blog to mine and is created by a former classmate of mine. Debbie describes her blog as
"A PLACE TO STUDY AND CONSIDER IMAGES THAT ARE—OR ARE MEANT TO BE—OF AMERICAN INDIANS. THAT IS, ANIMALS OR NON-INDIANS, PLAYING INDIAN. DRESSING UP LIKE INDIANS. WITH THE OCCASIONAL ‘REAL’ INDIAN, MISREPRESENTED."
She is also studying to become a librarian as I am, and her ventures in this blog are important to spread the word that these old images portrayed of Native Americans are NOT okay now because it perpetuates many stereotypes.
It reminds me of a book I recently found and will soon be covering, Let’s be Indians by Peggy Parish (this is the same Peggy Parish who wrote the Amelia Bedelia books)
The problem here is that dressing up as a Native American is not a Halloween costume, you can’t just pretend to be one without offending many other people. This goes equally for Geisha costumes or any other ethnic costume - just avoid them. It speaks volumes that Caucasian people for centuries try to oppress a culture then on top of that, demean it by devaluing it’s cultural dress.
Debbie’s blog Images of Indians in Children’s Books is a great resource for those interested in seeing more specific examples of bad stereotypes towards the Native American culture.