The world of children’s books is lily white. The vast majority of people writing kids’ books are white and their characters are usually white, too.
There are more animals and trucks that appear as characters in kids books than there are African-American characters.
But we don’t live in a lily-white world and many of us aren’t white. So what’s at stake when minority kids see limited versions of people who look like themselves? And when they do see minority characters, those characters are often written by a white author with no lived experience of that culture.
In fact, what’s at stake for all of us when we see limited, stereotypical representations of black and brown folks?
This is a story about the power of stereotypes to do harm, especially to young people. And about a white, gay, male children’s book author named Will Taylor. Who reached out to an African-American writer named Bethany Morrow and hired her for her feedback and cultural perspective. She’s part of a growing profession that authors can seek out, if they so choose, known as “sensitivity reads.”
You can also hear an excerpt of Bethany Morrow reading from her essay, “Why We Need Real Black Characters By Real Black Artists”.