I’m a white writer who is on a personal journey to develop my own awareness of race and to understand the complex world of issues around race in the creation of children’s literature.
I write books about people in cultures not my own and my journey is also about telling stories across race and culture. My first step has been to explore blogs, essays, books on the subject of race and children’s literature and in this post I offer a bibliography of resources on issues of race in children’s and young adult books.
I also want to share a key idea that is addressed in many ways in the blogs and essays I’ve read. That is that children’s books cannot portray a race, a culture, an ethnic group, a category of people. Our responsibility is to portray the individual. Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a book in the form of a letter to his son, Between the World and Me. He helped me see this vast responsibility we have as we create for children with these lines about enslavement: “Slavery is a particular, specific enslaved woman whose mind is as active as your own, whose range of feelings as vast as your own, who prefers how the light falls in one particular spot in the woods, who enjoys fishing where the water eddies in a nearby stream, who loves her mother in her own complicated way, thinks her sister talks too loud, has a favorite cousin, a favorite season, excels at dressmaking and knows inside herself that she is as intelligent and capable as anyone.”
Looking at Issues of Race and Culture in Children’s and YA Books
The New School for Children librarian Allie Jane Bruce and students had a series of discussions about the covers of young adult books and representations of and race, stereotypes, and other issues.
Dear Ellen, You are not Me
Ellen Oh’s Blog
The Open Book Lee & Low blog
From the Outside, post by Linda Sue Park
” I don’t know of a single good fiction writer who doesn’t write outside their own experience. Period. But here’s the thing: Not all ‘outsides’ are created equal.
Thanks for reading. That’s just the beginning. I’m continuing my exploration of responsibilities of this white writer of books for children. I’ll continue to post an racial awareness on my own blog.