Reading is Listening
Yesterday, I sat down with my three boys in front of our bookshelves at home with the kids books on it. We did something together I typically have only done by myself: a physical count, separated into piles of
- how many of the books were written by a person of color,
- how many books feature a child of color as the main character, and
- how many represent day-to-day life with a child who happens to be of color?
Lots of conversations ensued that I know will continue. It was a pretty powerful way to spend an afternoon with my children.
(I recommend doing this with adult bookshelves too.)
When people ask me about books for children on the topic of racism, I recommend doing this counting exercise first. And not because there is a “magic diversity achievement” proportion of white to non-white books. But rather it reveals a story that is hidden. The story your children (and you) read every time they visit that bookshelf. Is the story—the representation of the world—the one you want them to know?
I am a supporter of We Need Diverse Books, a 501(c)(3) non-profit and a grassroots organization of children’s book authors and readers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry. We at Black Bird Bookstore will continue our demand of the book industry to publish more children’s books with racial diversity, where there is a child of color as the main character and more books have representative diversity on its pages.
We encourage you to purchase books written by Black authors, support Black-owned bookstores and to donate directly to this organization as well as any of the many organizations for race, equity, anti-racism, and inclusion that We Need Diverse Books lists.
I believe books are a building block of change.