Having read the Cooperative Children's Book Center's (CCBC) reports this year made me want to do something bigger to help promote diversity in children's books than I have been doing. Making a public commitment and having other people join me are two things that help me to stick with my goals, so I am starting my first release challenge and hoping some other people will join me. This is a rather USA-centric project because that is the publishing base I have data on, but participants in other countries are very welcome.
CCBC's statistics on multicultural children's books: http://www.education.wisc.edu/---/pcstats.asp
Their 2012 report: http://www.education.wisc.edu/---/choiceintro13.asp
Quick version: Of the 3,600 kid's books published in 2012 that the CCBC received
3% were about/ 2% by African/African-Americans
1.5% were about or by Latinos
Less than 1% were about or by Native Americans
2% were about/ 2.3% by Asian or Pacific/ Asian or Pacific-Americans
What books we will release: Any children's books (defined as being for birth to thirteen years) featuring a main character who is not white. Bi-racial is fine. I'll leave it up to each member to decide what races and which books fit this category, as opinions tend to vary. (Like the old "Are Italians white?" argument.) Wild and controlled releases both count. Fiction and non-fiction both count. The character does have to be human, folk tales and fairy stories about animals from other cultures *don't* count.
What is the point of the project?: This project has two goals.
1. To put books featuring a variety of different races and cultures into the hands of kids. Kids are impressionable; what they have access to becomes normal to them in a way that is hard to learn when they are older. If a child grows up imagining a world where 90% of people are white, the real world may be quite a shock.
2. To support the publishers, authors and booksellers who publish diverse stories. This is the "vote with your money" effect. Even if you don't buy the books you release new, it has an effect. If you buy them from a used bookstore, it makes the bookstore more likely to buy similar books from sellers, who then are more likely to buy new books if they know they can resell them after reading. If you introduce a young reader to an author who they like and they ask the library to buy a copy of their new book, it supports both library patronage and the author/publisher. If the new reader writes a book review and impresses their teacher, maybe the teacher will order a copy. You get the picture.
I am going to going to run this release challenge until December 1st, roughly 3 months, and see how it goes. The person who releases the most books in that time will win a wishlist book from me.