by Jenna Danoy, Social Media Marketing Intern
We recently came across an NPR story that hit close to home. It discussed the striking lack of diversity in children’s book characters – something that, as many of you know, Behind the Book has strived to combat in its ten years of working with New York City schools in low-income areas.
This alarming disparity between the diversity of our public schools and its reflection in children’s literature points to a very important problem: students of color are not able to see themselves in the books they read, and are being taught that white characters are more likable, successful, and likely to accomplish their dreams than are characters (or real people) of color.
Not only can these lessons discourage students of color from reading, but they can also discourage students of color from believing adults when they say, “Anyone is capable of achieving their dreams.”
At Behind the Book, we enable our students to see their own ability to do great things by exposing them to stories in which characters who look like them, and live in places like they do, go on incredible journeys and learn big things about themselves. And we prove to them that they are capable of producing their own unique works by guiding them through the process of writing their stories, from the initial brainstorming stage to the final publishing stage.
Check out some places where we’ve talked about women authors, and suggested awesome reads with characters of color. You can also always take a look at our Goodreads page, where we’ve recommended dozens of books by authors of color.