Posts Tagged“diverse books”

Diversity in KidLit 2012 Source: First Book, Art: Tina Kugler

In this last year especially, there’s been more discussion about the need for multiculturalism and diversity on the kids’ bookshelf than ever before (finally!) Although a lot of peers echo the sense that the time has come, sometimes I encounter people who ask why such a push is necessary. The kinds of questions I hear are: Isn’t reading at its core about a reader identifying with characters by transcending differences? Do stories need to be mirrors, do readers really need to have themselves reflected in stories? Aren’t we then saying that a reader can’t identify with a character who is…

During this past year I have begun to notice a louder conversation about diversity (or lack of) in stories for kids and teens. Born in America and raised by Korean immigrants who encouraged me to read, this was painfully obvious to me growing up because I never found a character who looked like me or had a similar background. In fact, as a Korean kid, I felt like I was snatching up crumbs to find even close approximations of my identity in books and mass media: the Japanese girl that Ralph Macchio fell for in Karate Kid II, the native island…

original art by Kirk Quilaquil, posted with permission

A while back I was having a conversation with a writer friend, Christina Fernandez-Morrow. Although she has always been a voracious reader, she was explaining to me that growing up, she wasn’t very interested in the fantasy genre. Christina explained that given the challenging circumstances of her young life in an urban inner city, the “upper-middle class lifestyle” depicted [in realistic fiction books like The Babysitter’s Club] was fantasy enough for me.” I consider myself bicultural. I am of two worlds, two cultures. I have my Korean culture, the culture of my parents, which largely influenced my upbringing, values, and sense of self.…