Can I share a secret with you? Well, actually, there is no secret. Diversity in children's books is a journey the literary industry has been embarking on for quite some time.
In 2015, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center reported that out of 3,400 children’s books, 107 were written by African Americans, 176 written by Asian Americans, 59 written by Latinos, and 19 written by Native Americans.
What’s clear from these statistics is that there’s still more to do.
As a multicultural children's author of Journey to Appleville, I’m determined to change this trend by promoting the importance of cultural representation in children's literature. It's a personal mission of mine, to put power back into the hands of diverse cultures by creating stories reflective of who they are as individuals, and as storytellers.
Journey to Appleville follows six kids (Kenan, Tu-Tu, Pedro, Liu-Liu, Lizzy, and Cassie) from a local neighborhood with a common goal—to visit Appleville, overcome their fears, accomplish their goals and earn a Golden Apple for achievement.
Written for children of all nationalities, Journey to Appleville explores the importance of creating stories reflective of diverse families; and the power that comes from successfully overcoming fears and helping others work through their own uncertainties.
As the book concludes, Appleville becomes symbolic of ‘opportunity.’ It’s a place where all children can be who they want to be and do what they believe is right. As a writer, I believe it is essential to tell this story of exploration, friendship and triumph.”
Without hesitation, there are more diverse stories to be told and Journey to Appleville is one piece of the puzzle. As we continue moving toward a multi-ethnic and multinational world, we must continue to develop stories with (5) core elements in mind:
- Put literary power back into the hands of diverse families by encouraging them to seek stories that reflect their everyday lives.
- Build opportunities through literature for children of all nationalities to connect with each other through storytelling.
- Create stories that engage the 22-28 percent of non-readers, children who read less than 45 minutes a week, by creating a story reflective of who they are.
- Teach children to be kind and friendly, no matter how different they may be from each other.
- Showcase stories that come from successfully overcoming fears and helping others work through their own uncertainties.
To learn more about Journey to Appleville, visit, applevillebooks.com and please join me on January 21, 2017 at 1pm-4pm for an Appleville Book Signing at Barnes & Noble, 1 E. Jackson St., Chicago, IL 60605.