I am pleased and grateful to have the opportunity to promote We’re The People – a blog devoted to diversity in children’s and young adult reading material and Full Circle Literary – “a literary agency, representing children’s books from toddler to teen, and more!” Both We’re The People and Full Circle Literary are stupendous finds that I proudly recommend to you.
We’re The People is an amazing blog that I randomly happened upon and have returned to several times to find new recommendations for books to purchase and read to my 2-1/2 year-old niece. I am at a loss for words to properly describe all the feels that came over me when I first encountered We’re The People – sheer joy, yes, but also an ache in my heart that actually hurt and brought tears to my eyes. With today’s plethora of blogs concentrating on book reviews and recommendations, the lack of diversity in the books that children are exposed to and offered in bookstores, libraries and their schools is a glaringly obvious truth. I am astonished that book publishers and my fellow #wordnerds do not more frequently, loudly, and publicly acknowledge and/or address this issue. We are failing all of our children and must work to do better.
The world we live in it anything but white or colorless – it is a smorgasbord of colors, in every imaginable hue, spanning the entire intensity and saturation gamut visible to the human eye. It is in the diversity of humans that our greatest strength and beauty lies. And yet, we provide no such written word color-wheel to our children. Not only does this greatly and negatively affect the self-image of millions of non-white children who do not see themselves as possible characters in the stories, it also reduces the ability of white children to envision the non-white children in such stories. Neither set of children grow up appreciating the beauty and wonder of the other, and, in fact, seeds of discomfort, fear, and uncertainty of the “other” are deeply planted into their hearts and minds.
I still live close to the uniquely diverse neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where I was born and raised. I was a Catholic, white girl from a middle-class, single father home who spent the greater part of my first 10 years in and around the home of my babysitter, a Baptist, African-American grandmother. On any given day, Ms. Bessie nurtured, disciplined and loved a group of kids of both races and religions. She, and by default, we, never shied away from noting our differences – they were acknowledged, praised and accepted as just one of the many parts that made each of us who we were. All of us were given a true gift and we grew up not only tolerating, but sincerely loving, the “other.” Most of us remain close in our adult lives and our children know and care about one another as well. We were raised together and saw our futures together.
Please note that most of the book covers and illustrations found herein were taken from the Full Circle Literary blog.