Multicultural Children’s Literature: The Lack of and The Importance + A Little Treat for you all!!

Guess who is back from this dead! That hiatus lasted much MUCH longer than I anticipated (or wanted…) but hopefully I am back FOR GOOD. I cannot BEGIN to describe how much I missed blogging and the community and even reading because *gasp* I did not even have time to read during my hiatus. But it was much needed because I had so so much going on this semester.

Including this! This post is a hello post, but also about my senior project. Obviously I love books (if you couldn’t tell) and I chose to research multicultural children’s literature for my project. How did I go about doing this, you may ask? First I emailed Penguin Random House, the largest children’s publisher, and asked for all the books they published under their children’s literature department in 2016. Then I eliminated some of the books because I decided to define Children’s Lit as: a book marketed for children under 10. This excludes YA and what I believe to be middle grade. THEN I also excluded all books that were republished in 2016 i.e. in a different form, an anniversary edition, etc.

Then came the research. I used Amazon’s handy dandy look inside feature and looked into the representation in the children’s books. Then, using author bios, I determined the representation of children’s authors as well. YES, there is some margin of error, because I did not personally ask each and every author what their background is, and I acknowledge that because of that my results are not perfect. After I compiled all the data I did some ~statistical things~ and found percentages and breakdowns in all different categories. Feel free to look at all the lovely graphs I made to demonstrate this breakdown.

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Percentage of Books by Authors Gender PRH

PRH Fiction


PRH #ownvoices

PRH Biographies

PRH Human Books

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After that, I did the same thing for the Top Twenty Bestselling Books of All Time (hello Dr. Seuss and J.K Rowling!) and The New York Times Children’s Picture Books Bestsellers.

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Top Twenty Author Race

NYT Author's Gender

NYT characters race

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Tope Twenty Author GenderTop Twenty Book RaceNYT Author Race

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The results of all were staggering but unfortunately, not surprising. We all know that a serious lack of diversity remains in the publishing world across all genres, age groups, and companies. And we also know why this is bad. It is important for children to see themselves in their books, to help with their identity formation and self esteem. They need to feel validated in who they are. It also develops empathy. Through reading about different cultures, family backgrounds, learning differences, races, religions, children learn about other people and can understand where they come from. Literally, they are stepping into the shoes of this other person. And we all know that this world can benefit from more empathy.

The final part of my project was a product. I needed to somehow extend on what I learned during my research and make it accessible to the general public. Well, what better way to extend on the fact that this world needs more multicultural children’s books then by writing one of my own? yes I understand there are actually many better ways such as recommending multicultural books but I wanted to write a book DON’T SUE. And this part of the project took a long time. But I finally finished my story about a holiday party celebrating many different religions and races. I’ve also attached that to this post (at the very bottom), so feel free to look through. I am by no means a professional author or illustrator, and this is basically the first time I’ve ever written anything, much less a children’s book, so go easy on me. 

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Now you know why I was gone for such a long time and hopefully you are as excited as I am that I am back! I hope you enjoyed this little dive into the world of multicultural literature and if you have questions about my research or some of the numbers feel free to ask. Also enjoy the book (that was the little treat just by the way).

The Day Before Miss. Pennywink’s Holiday Party

Let's Chat!

Let me know what you thought of the research! Of the book! Of the lack of diversity in general! Let me know how much you missed me just kidding. What type of posts are you looking forward to me posting as I have been reawakened?

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10 thoughts on “Multicultural Children’s Literature: The Lack of and The Importance + A Little Treat for you all!!

  1. Aimee (Aimee, Always) says:

    I mainly read from the YA age group and older, so I’m really unaware about the situation for Kid lit. I’m really sad about the results! Kids are the ones most affected by what/who they see/read about in fiction, so they NEED to be represented in more books! 😦 Thanks for sharing, lovely. I hope authors and publishers keep these statistics in mind.

    – Aimee @ Aimee, Always

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Belle says:

    This is such a great project! I was surprised at first because I thought that Asian/Indian characters accounted for 55% of the characters, until I realized that the light green was non-human characters 😂😭. There’s definitely been an influx of diversity in the YA genre, but it’s sad to see that it has extended to children literature. Great post, Sydney!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ilsa @ A Whisper Of Ink says:

    This was a wonderful posts and the graphs were not shocking because I already know how utterly un-diverse children’s literature is. Im disappointed though and I hope that slowly, we will change. of course, we ARE improving but we can always do better! the story looks amazing and i hope i’ll have time to read it later. SO glad you’re back!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sydney @ Fire and Rain Books says:

      The graphs weren’t shocking but they made me sad. I think just by making people more aware it’ll help because I know personally I wasn’t even thinking about how all the books I read were white until someone pointed it out.
      SO glad i’m back too, missed this entire community so much 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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