A need for diversity in children’s books
MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY —
We all look for ways we can relate to others, especially in how we look. It’s why teachers are stressing the need for more children’s book characters your child can relate to. However, they may be hard to find according to a study by the Cooperation Children’s Book Center.
In 2014, the center received 3,500 children’s books. From that, 396 were written about African/African Americans, American Indians/First Nations, Asian Pacific Americans, and Latinos. In addition, 292 of the books received were written by authors of those ethnicities.
Kids like Kamea Fultes, a fifth grade student at McNabb Elementary School, says seeing characters and stories that represent her helps in many ways.
"It helps me build my self-esteem. My confidence, because I was a shy little girl – didn’t want to do nothing, but once I read the books, I wanted to show who I am and show how special I am," she told Local 6.
She’s read just about every book in her school’s library that represents her and family. She says there are not a lot of them so she usually reads the books multiple times until new ones become available. It’s something teachers and librarians work hard to provide, but say their choices are limited.
"I don’t have any trouble finding books that are about African American culture or African American history or any culture, but just to find a general book of a family going on vacation and the characters happen to be a African American family or a Hispanic family those are harder to find," said Shanea Moran, McNabb Elementary School Librarian.
Moran says there is a budget for teachers to buy preferred books, but it’s limited when they have to distribute the cost between various kinds of books. Many teachers like Candice Newborn believe educating kids on all different cultures is necessary.
"We live in a multicultural society and it’s important for them to know that we have to be able to interact and get along with people no matter their race or color," Newborn said.
It’s something Fultes learned from Dawnie, a character in one of her favorite books, "Dear America: The Diary of Dawnie Rae Johnson." "It doesn’t matter what color skin you have, you’re special just the way you are," she said.
Many teachers recommend reading programs like Reading Pal’s (Partners and Literacy Support) to help spark your child’s love for reading. Reading Pal’s serve as mentors at the following schools:
Clark Elementary School
Lone Oak Elementary School
Lone Oak Intermediate School
McNabb Elementary School
Morgan Elementary School
Paducah Middle School
Paducah Day Nursery
Reidland Elementary School
Reidland Intermediate School