Monthly Archives: May 2014

Diversity in Children’s Literature

It’s time to chime in to the Diversity in Children’s Lit discussion.

For a long time, I underestimated the effect the lack of diversity in books and films had on me as a child. Now, it astounds me and makes me sad to know that growing up, I did not feel like part of the world. I felt on the outside, looking in. Some of this had to do with what I looked like. But curiously, the word “race” never entered my head—but words like “brown skin” vs. “blond” certainly did.

For one thing, I grew up in Northern Virginia, and it took trips to D.C. to get a feel for the kind of ethnic diversity you can truly celebrate and be grateful for. My classes in elementary school generally consisted of one African American child, one Hispanic child, one Asian child, me—the brown child that was neither completely one race or the other—and the rest of the class, which was Caucasian.

I never experienced outright racism except for the time the sixth-grade boys on the bus called me “camel jockey” when I was six years old. I didn’t understand what it meant, only that it was supposed to hurt my feelings, which it did. I think now with sadness about the ignorance these twelve-year-olds must have grown up with to call a little girl a camel jockey and think it was funny. […]

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