A blog post at “Library of Congress Blog” on 2017-02-21.
This month’s rare book honors William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B.) Du Bois, born Feb. 23, 1868. It features one of his most beloved creations, The Brownies’ Book, a serial published in 1920 and 1921. It is digitally presented here—22 back-to-back chronological issues. It was the first magazine of its kind, written for African-American children and youths to instill in them a sense of racial pride and provide overall instruction on how to conduct oneself, Du Bois is credited with establishing the genre of African-American children’s literature. The Brownies’ Book is considered part of the movement known as the Harlem Renaissance, a time of great African-American artistic expression.
In 1985, a task to find eligible books for the prestigious Coretta Scott King Book Award for African American authors and illustrators; turned into a mission for for identifying all trade books published each year by and for people of color.
More important, what the low numbers for multicultural literature mean is that publishing for children and teens has a long way to go before reflecting the rich diversity of perspectives and experiences within and across race and culture.
The numbers are far from the only important thing to consider when it comes to multicultural publishing for children and teens, of course. The books themselves matter. And every year we see amazing books by and about people of color and First/Native Nations people published. There just aren’t enough of them. The more books there are, especially books created by authors and Illustrators of color, the more opportunities librarians, teachers, and parents and other adults have of finding outstanding books for young readers and listeners that reflect dimensions of their lives, and give a broader understanding of who we are as a nation.