Diversity and Representation

They have been struck by the recognition of themselves in the story, a validation of their existence as human beings, an acknowledgment of their value by someone who understands who they are.
— Walter Dean Myers

I read this really wonderful opinion piece in the New York Times recently, a piece by author Walter Dean Myers that asks the question "where are the people of colo[u]r in Children's books?"

It's a similar question that lead me to write Amazing Babes - of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, just 93 were about black people, according to a study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin, stats that are a lot worse than, but reminiscent of, how regularly we see female protagonists in children's books: around 57% of children’s books published each year have male protagonists, versus 31% female, and in popular children’s books featuring animated animals, 100% of them have male characters, but only 33% have female characters (see here for stats and further discussion)

To be honest, it's a problem that extends beyond children's books - it's the same in film, telly, music, and history. But I think that children's books hold a unique space in the ability to change how we as a society view the world - and this is what Walter Dean Myers writes about in his article:

Books transmit values. They explore our common humanity. What is the message when some children are not represented in those books? Where are the future white personnel managers going to get their ideas of people of color? Where are the future white loan officers and future white politicians going to get their knowledge of people of color? Where are black children going to get a sense of who they are and what they can be?
— Walter Dean Myers

I'm inspired daily by the small and not so small actions of people wanting to spark change around the world, and I love the discovery of ways to do this more effectively with young children - my own and with the generation my kids will grow up being a part of.