Monday, March 03, 2008

Aren't We Doing Better?

Here's the headline from an article in yesterday's Courier News.
With few books for black children, teacher writes her own

The article begins:
As a child growing up, Mabel Elizabeth Singletary found herself with a burning desire to read fictional stories in which the central characters looked and sounded like her.

As an adult -- and a school teacher -- she decided to fill the void by writing the books herself.

I see and read many more books each day that highlight non-white characters. Am I off the mark in thinking that kids today can find more books in which they read about characters like themselves than they could a few years ago? Aren't we doing better? Your thoughts, please!


  1. I think it's gotten better in the last ten years or so but that's just my impression. I'm interested to hear what others think. Have you been reading the Brown Bookshelf's 28 Days Later? There are a lot of lesser-known Black kidlit authors featured there. Ms. Singletary was growing up in a different era so her impression might be built on her childhood memories. Also I think it's true we can always use more African American authors.

  2. Tricia,

    There certainly are many more books that speak to the different racial and ethnic cultures that live in our country being published today than there were when I began teaching in the 1960s. I see lots of picture books, folktales, works of fiction. The most popular series fiction books(Harry Potter, Magic Tree House, Lemony Snicket books, etc.), however, do not have main characters who are Black. The only series that comes to mind is the one about Julian.

  3. i think we're doing better, but have a long, long way to go. i think there's still too much tokenism and essentializing--teachers think if they have a handful of books with black and brown kids they've "done" multiculturalism.

    in your own specialty area---math and science books, how often are books that have "main" kid characters not white? i've found very few.

    i don't think it's bad to note progress, but i worry about getting complacent and that might happen if we think we're doin fine on this now. i think we've still got quite a long way to go.