Inclusivity in the publishing industry is not standard practice. Especially for children’s books, failure to represent generations of diverse young readers is common. While BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) representation in books is being slowly introduced, more effort from publishers–on a national scale–is required for this to be the literary standard, not a trend.
The above infographic details 2018 statistics from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC). 50% of book characters were white, 26% were animals/others, and 10% were African/African-American. As shown, other ethnic groups were depicted in children’s books at even lower percentages. Unfortunately, these statistics have not budged much.
In a 2020 CCBC study, “12.1% of children’s books… featured a [Black]/African main character and 7.6% were written by a [Black]/African author.” While there was a 306% increase in Black main characters on the front cover of children’s bestsellers, according to WordsRated, there was a 23% decrease in children’s bestsellers that have Black main characters. These findings demonstrate the disparity in the number of high-quality children’s books that feature BIPOC main characters. But, more importantly, these percentages emphasize the significance of creating space for diverse stories.
To further create and promote diverse literature, we’ve partnered with Stories of a Colorful World (SOCW), a Black-owned online children’s bookstore. The co-founders, Kanika Mobley and Vanessa Mitchell, are committed to carrying books that feature diverse representations of BIPOC characters, authors, and stories. A percentage of SOCW books are donated to classrooms around the country, creating better access to children’s books. And by partnering with Black and Brown publishers, such as Young Authors Publishing, the SOCW collection ensures that youth-centric and culturally responsive literature is the root of young readers’ learning experiences. Head over to the SOCW collection and enjoy YAP titles such as New Kid Rule Book, Fatima the Activist, Dinner Table Distractions, and more.
The responsibility is on us to normalize diversified stories, characters, and authors. As a result, young readers can enjoy narratives that celebrate cultures and communities of the world. So, let’s continue to invest in BIPOC stories. The value placed on reading will then involve inclusion and human recognition.
About Young Authors Publishing | www.youngauthorspublishing.org/
Young Authors Publishing is a children’s and young adult book publisher that exists to share the stories of Black & Brown children. They believe that all kids are story-worthy and should see themselves reflected in the books they read. Publishing books that reflect how diverse the world is, their two-part mission is to produce culturally relevant children’s books and to use book publishing as a vehicle for economic mobility for their young authors.