I estimate that if
Latino and African American communities were to create an equitable number of children’s books as Euro Americans, Latinos must create another 890 books and African Americans must create another 600 books—per year.
That’s a 94% increase for Latinos and 88% increase for African Americans. ALL communities of color need serious increases in their representation in children’s books, but these are THE MOST STAGGERING of the numbers.
I’ve been in the industry for 20 years, blabbing about diversity all along, citing the CCBC and I’m still blown away by the numbers. But the truth is these are the numbers I find the most sobering. A 94% increase in stories being told? That also means 94% more art being made, 94% more editors, 94% more moments when publishers say yes, 94% more hearts and hands open to telling our story from the inside out. This is not something that’s going to change overnight just because the larger society is now beginning to get hip to our conversation. It’s not just a political, intellectual, philosophical question. It’s not a matter of what sells.
It’s a real life human concern.
If we want to see change in these numbers, real change, lasting change; we must consider what is effective, long term action on a human level that can remedy 10-25 generations of socially mandated silence? Latino/as and African Americans are still substantially silenced if we need equity increases in the ballpark of 88 and 94%! That silence has a very real impact on our sense of entitlement to our own stories and the power to tell them in public. When I began teaching adults how to create children’s books, I did it from a holistic perspective because I knew many of us have to heal our hearts as we go in order to complete the journey.
I don’t know if today
890 more Latino/a authors,
890 more Latino/a artists and
890 more publishers saying yes to all that first voice Latino/a work
are even available much less ready to begin making children’s books.
If we hope to reclaim our storytelling power and see that translated into published books in the public sphere, then in my imagination, we need to attend to the kids. As Latinos and African Americans, we need to ask how we can engage our kids at each developmental level to integrate the importance of story, art and bookmaking. It’s no longer just about learning to read or needing more books. Or diversity sells. It’s about a sense of agency rooted in belonging rising through voice.
As kids experience story, art and book creation alongside learning about the realities of inequity, they have the opportunity to care about their lives from a place of action. This gives them time also to develop that caring into purpose and skill that could flower into much needed work in children’s books later in life.
Today’s WRITE NOW! MAKE BOOKS installment is about storytelling. Included later this week is a complete story for kids to download, color and make into their own practice book. At the end of the video today I talk about the process of developing that small story. I used a common joke, the interrupting cow as my base, but before I knew it there were chupacabras and cow propaganda and goat demonstrations. I surprised my own self and even snort laughed a couple few times.
do you know how to tell a good story? How about a good joke Do you make art? What about books? Maybe WRITE NOW! MAKE BOOKS is a great opportunity for you to come into some more of your creative power. Come play! I know it’s for kids and it is!!! Please share widely! But you too! Come interrupt the silence! Come play with the kids. The chupacabras are waiting! And they’re nothing like you expected.
The revolution is always now!
See you tomorrow!