Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Responsibility of Adding More Diversity in Children's Literature

I read an interview of two children’s book agents in which they discussed diversity (or lack thereof) in children’s literature. One agent made mention of the fact that the vast majority of children’s book authors are well-educated, white women with enough of a financial cushion in their lives to be able to dedicate the time and money to pursuing an extremely financially unrewarding … well, some are looking at it as a career, others as a hobby, I suppose. Anyway, this agent was not surprised that so many books were about white middle class children, because people tend to write what they know. 
And that’s the default setting. I find it in my own writing, and even in my drawing – the kids I draw may have wider noses on the whole than the average white kid, but for the sake of color variety, I often give them blond or red hair, when the vast majority of people on this earth have dark hair. So it’s not representative. Worse yet, when I’m in “the zone” painting (and thus, not really thinking intellectually about diversity in children’s literature), I have a default go-to skin color, which is so disappointing of an impulse of mine. There I go again, mixing up a creamy peachy pink on the palette. Please. My skin isn’t that color, so why am I painting with it? I’m going to make a concerted effort to draw more diverse faces in my future sketchings. Captain Obvious here, but people of all types should be adequately represented in literature. The fact that this sentence must even be stated is a sad state of affairs indeed. /end soapbox

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