A division of the American Library Association is helping promote the importance of multicultural resources for kids in U.S. libraries to help mark Children’s Day/Book Day today.
Less than 10 percent of U.S. children’s books feature nonwhite individuals, according to data compiled by the American Library Association [PDF].
When children never see themselves represented in library collections, or literacy programs, many are left to think that their culture is not important enough to be featured in the library.
To help raise awareness around the issue of diversity and children’s literature, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of ALA, is sponsoring today’s Children’s Day/Book Day, also known as El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros.
What originally began in 1925 as Children’s Day to bring attention to importance and well-being of children, the Día initiative eventually grew to incorporate and promote the importance of literacy for children of all cultural backgrounds. While it’s meant to celebrate children and reading every day, the initiative culminates each year on April 30.
“Día is an occasion to celebrate our children’s diversity,” ALSC President Starr LaTronica said in a statement. “When children never see themselves represented in library collections, or literacy programs, many are left to think that their culture is not important enough to be featured in the library. Too often cultural invisibility has left children to second guess their value in our society.”
In a whitepaper released earlier this month, ALSC addressed the issue of diversity in children’s literature and encouraged libraries to include more culturally diverse books in their collections.
“When selecting books for the library collection or to use in library programs, it is imperative that children’s librarians choose materials representative of a wide range of perspectives and cultures,” the whitepaper stated. “Opportunities should be provided for children and caregivers to hear stories and interact with characters whose lives and experiences are different from their own.”
Día is jointly supported by a number of organizations, including the National Council of Teachers of English, which sponsors another diversity initiative every year in February during Black History Month. NCTE’s African-American Read-In programs encourage individuals to read and share literary works written by African-American authors.