It seems that the days of avoiding the serious topics of children’s books — things like complex emotions, racism, mental illness and even death — are over. Authors aimed at young readers deal with uncomfortable realities, producing more diverse and sophisticated content to appeal to them.
according to Philadelphia InquirerChildren’s book authors have been crafting complex narrative arcs for young readers since the 1960s, says Karl Lehnerts, executive editor of the Children’s Book Council. However, these books were an exception, and children who did not grow up in a nuclear family—and were not white—continued to be ignored in children’s literature.
There was a time when we wanted to protect children from these issues; “It’s too late now,” said Naren Ariel, CEO and publisher of Baby Imprint. mascot books, the Enquirer reported. “But we’re learning as a society that it’s better to talk about these things that haven’t been talked about in the past.”
Fast forward to 2022, and publishers have increased the variety of children’s books available, especially historical and nonfiction books. For example, a children’s company about – according to which websiteis a black-owned children’s media company with the goal of inspiring a new generation of children through diverse storytelling – it has released more than 70 books for readers up to the age of 9. The books cover a variety of topics, including divorce, racism, voting, cancer, empathy, and non-binaries.
While things appear to be moving in a positive direction within the book industry, there is still work to be done. In 2015, publisher Lee & Low conducted a survey of diversity in the publishing industry and discovered that only 2% of children’s books were written by black authors and featured black children; Likewise, Latins were rarely shown. There was only a slight rise in the number of books featuring black heroes when the survey was repeated five years later.
Lennerts told The Inquirer that it wasn’t until the protests that followed his May 2020 death George Floyd In police custody in Minneapolis, the publishing industry is beginning to examine its production with more serious eyes. Since then, there has been an increase in the number of non-fiction children’s books dealing with black history.
However, many school districts across America ban books that humanize the experiences of LGBTQ+ children and discuss the details of black lives, as some white parents believe reading them makes children feel bad.
“Children can handle the material. Their minds are open, and they don’t prejudge it,” Lehnerts said, according to the Enquirer. “What if it was a policeman? [who killed George Floyd] Read a book humanizing black children 20 years ago? Imagine how different our country would be.”
The resurgence of global children’s literature is fueled by a number of books by authors with connections to Philadelphia, such as school teacher Haley Adelman, who has a series of books about children and big feelings, and ABC News Live host Linsey Davis, whose book What’s High in the Sky? Helping young people deal with the death of their loved ones, a particularly important topic in the wake of COVID-19 and the endless gun violence.
Jamila Tompkins-Biglow has also written several books, including “Mother Khimar,” which talks about a Muslim girl who wears a dress with her mother’s head scarf, and “Your Name is a Song,” which tells the story of a young man whose teacher and classmates are unable to pronounce her name until she teaches them his singing. The latter book fell into a book ban imposed by the Central York School District.
“It’s annoying that people want to stop people like me from being in a book,” Thompkins-Bigelow said, reported by The Inquirer. “Would you bother if your children saw me? There are no explicit messages in my books. They are just presentations of people who are there.”
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