New Stats in Diversity in Children’s Books

By Sailaja Joshi

It’s hard to believe that we will be celebrating our second year in business this upcoming November. The road of an Indie publisher is tough. We bootstrap our funds, crowdfund many of our publishing campaigns and all of our staff have full-time jobs that pay the bills.

But these statistics, via the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, illustrated by David Huyck, show just how much more work must be done in the world of Children’s publishing. Since 2012, we’ve seen moderate increases in the representation of diverse characters, around 1.3% for characters of Asian origin while the representation of American Indian/First Nation communities has remained nearly the same.

And so the job of us Indie publishers continues, because these statistics tell the cold hard truth; that if you are a child of color, you’re least likely to see yourself in the books you read each day. And to be able to see yourself is to be able to understand and see a new reality for not just your future, but your everyday life.

So the real question is, what is a person to do? A parent, a teacher, a librarian. How do we change this reality?

And the solution, is for us, quite simple.

Support diverse book publishers. Support those authors, those illustrators, those publishers who are working slowly (but surely) to change these statistics so every child is a hero. But our efforts, our work, cannot continue unless individuals demand that diverse books be placed in our children’s hands.

So as the school year begins, we challenge our teachers, our parents, and our librarians to reexamine their shelves and shape them to celebrate diverse books, characters, and communities.