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#Kidreads: Children's books with minority characters are hard to find; here are a few resources

Kidreads: Children's books with minority characters are hard to find; here are a few resources

Library Literacy - 3

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Children's librarian, Sada Mozer, reads to children at schools, preschools and in her own children's section at Junipero Serra library in South Los Angeles.

Veteran educator Louise Derman Sparks has written volumes on what she calls “anti-bias education” for children. 

Sparks firmly believes that children can start absorbing an anti-bias message just from what we read to them because children’s books are one of the first ways we introduce infants to the world.

“The simplest [way] is to create a very diverse environment with accurate books and pictures of people of this country in their current lives,” Sparks said.

Certainly there's a lot to overcome.

“One of the first stereotypes [children] learn is about Native Americans,” Sparks said. “Native Americans wear feathers or they wear buckskins or they go around shooting bows and arrows or they live in teepees.”

RELATED: #KidReads: Which children's book do you or your child hold most dear?

Children learn these stereotypes from  “thanksgiving greeting cards, they learn it from Disney decorations, they learn it from children’s books that haven’t changed how they look. It’s around them.”

Many parents have complained for years about the lack of diversity in books for the 0 to 5 set. 

Yet there aren't many options, according to research from the University of Wisconsin. Each year the university's Cooperative Children’s Book Center examines children’s books published in the U.S.

Last year, 5,000 kids books were published. The center evaluated 3,600 of them for “multicultural” content – books by or about people of color. The results: 3.3% of books were about African Americans, 2.1% about Asian Americans and 1.5% about Latinos.  Only 0.6% of books published last year were about Native peoples.

Megan Schliesman, a children’s librarian at the University of Wisconsin said as a result, little children are not seeing an accurate representation of “who we are as a nation in terms of diversity.”

To counteract this, a few people have come up with resources:

Nsiah-Buadi said she started the story time after realizing the lack of books that spoke to her own 6 month old’s heritage. She began by volunteering at her local library story time, bringing books with diverse characters with her.

“I want kids of all stripes to see themselves in books,' she said, "not as the friend, or the sidekick, or as the lesson, but as the protagonist."

Have a favorite children's book? Share it with us here.



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