I want to ask you to join me on this campaign #multiculturalbooksmatter in an effort to bring attention to books that celebrate multicultural characters, especially in children’s literature.
Recently, I’ve become aware of the need for multicultural children’s books. This infographic by Lee and Low shows the state of diversity in children’s literature as of right now:
Even though demographics have shifted considerably in the past years, the number of multicultural/diverse books — or by diverse authors–published since 1994 has stayed pretty much the same.
Who is it to blame? Publishing houses with a preconceived idea of what sells and what doesn’t? Agents who don’t give a voice to authors with an accent or from a different background? Authors who do not reflect the world we live in? Book lovers who do not buy books that have multicultural themes or characters? We could go on and own trying to blame one another, but I’d rather focus on one thing: change.
I’ve joined the #weneeddiversebooks campaign on social media. This campaign was started by authors Ellen Oh and Malinda Lo in early 2014. The campaign has gained a lot of support by the publishing industry, authors, and bloggers, and has brought the issue of diversity to the forefront. But there’s always more to do!
Why is this important to me? Because, as an immigrant in the United States, I want my children to grow in a world where they can be proud of their culture and heritage. I don’t want my children to be defined by their race. I want them to be defined by their values and actions.
Books are more than mirrors. Books are also windows that let us take a peek into each other worlds to realize that we aren’t that different.
When I first came to this country, I worked at a restaurant. I clearly remember a customer asking if I had left my country because I was tired of picking up cotton. My answer was a blank stare. While on a family vacation, a lady took me for the breakfast buffet attendant, even though I wasn’t wearing anything that resembled a hotel uniform.
I don’t want my children living in a culture that stereotypes and patronizes them.
That’s the reason behind the #multiculturalbooksmatter campaign. I want to highlight books that portray multicultural characters in a positive, inclusive way, and authors ‘of color’ who are more than just the color of their skin.
If you want to join, tweet a picture to tell us why multicultural books matter… or write a blog post, share it on social media, start a conversation with your children, buy a book that mirrors you or opens a window. Do something to be part of the change.
Let’s celebrate our world through literature, and let’s prepare our children to be citizens of a more tolerant world.
Mariana Llanos is not only a children’s books writer. She’s also mom to three, lover of chocolate, hoarder of books, night owl, coffee drinker, Beatles fan. Whatever you do, do not ask her to sing Karaoke with you. You might never see the mic again.
Her books are available in English and Spanish on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1J03OpB