The lack of diversity in children’s literature is a problem that affects all children, especially children from low-income families, who rarely see themselves, their families or their communities in the stories they read.
The problem is real. In a study last year, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center reviewed thousands of kids’ books, and found that:
- only 3.3 percent were about African-Americans
- only 2.1 percent were about Asian-Pacific Americans
- only 1.5 percent were about Latinos
- a mere 0.6 percent were about American Indians.
The teachers, librarians, mentors and program leaders we work with tell us time and again that one of the biggest challenges they face in helping kids become strong readers is the lack of stories featuring heroes and experiences they can relate to.
Today, at the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) meeting, hosted by President Bill Clinton, I announced First Book’s commitment to create a sustainable solution to this problem by dramatically expanding the market for diversity in children’s literature through The Stories for All Project.
First Book aggregates the voices — and purchasing power — of thousands of educators and program leaders who serve families at the bottom of the economic pyramid. Through The Stories for All Project, we’re showing the publishing industry that there is a strong, viable and vibrant market out there for books like these.
One more important thing: This isn’t just about kids from African-American or Hispanic families being able to read stories about characters who look like them. All kids should have access to stories featuring diverse characters, to see the world in all its true rich variety. We’re creating this market in order to make diverse content available to kids from low-income families, but once that content exists, it’s available for everyone.
First Book is truly eager to collaborate with everyone interested in really changing this landscape for all kids.
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