Author Archives: Jason Low

Where’s the Diversity, Hollywood? 85 Years of the Academy Awards

The Academy Awards will soon unveil the very best in filmmaking today. As the prediction chatter ricochets around the web, our curiosity about the level of racial and gender representation spanning the entire 85-year history of the Academy Awards was our next Diversity Gap study.

Where’s the Diversity? The NY Times Top 10 Bestsellers List

As we near the end of the 2013, we enter the season when major newspapers and magazines release their “Best of [enter year] lists”. So naturally we were curious about the level of representation of authors of color in last year’s New York Times Top 10 Bestsellers list.

Whitewashing Book Covers: A Trip to Barnes & Noble Part II

Over the course of the last academic year, I co-taught a year-long unit that allowed a sixth-grade class to explore prejudices in books and the book industry. After studying how book covers and content can marginalize groups (we studied treatments of race, ethnicity, gender, body image, sexuality, class, ability, and more), we took a field trip to Barnes & Noble—by far my favorite piece of the project. The kids exited the store with steam issuing from their ears.

Whitewashing Book Covers: What Do Kids Think? Part I

In my first year as Children’s Librarian at Bank Street, I worked with two teachers on a project that allowed sixth-graders to explore implicit and explicit biases in publishing. Using book covers as a starting point for discussion, we engaged in conversations about identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, body image, class, and ability as they relate to books and beyond.

Literary Agents Discuss the Diversity Gap in Publishing

Literary agents make up a big part of the publishing machine. Most publishers no longer consider unsolicited submissions, so an agent is a must if you even want to get your foot in the door. Each year, agents review many promising manuscripts and portfolios so it is safe to say they have a good sense of who makes up the talent pool of children’s book publishing. So what kind of diversity are agents seeing?

Where’s the Diversity? 5 Reasons Why the US Government Isn’t More Diverse

In our previous diversity studies on the Emmy Awards, the children’s book field, and the Tony Awards, we interviewed people who actively work in television, publishing, and the theater. We attempted to duplicate this approach for our diversity study on US politics, but with the government shutdown, none of the twelve congress people and senators we contacted responded to our efforts to reach out to them.

True or False? Multicultural Books Don’t Sell

As an independent bookseller, former school librarian, and lifelong avid reader, I crave the day when publishing lists are as diverse and rich as the playgrounds of our nation, and the conversation about representations of diversity in children’s literature is as unnecessary as the question of whether or not women should vote.

Where’s the Diversity? A Look at the Emmy Awards and TV

Publishing diverse children’s books for more than two decades has given us a unique perspective when it comes to diversity. While our mission is to bring more diverse books to children, we hope our efforts as activists keep the wider conversation on race and inequality in the spotlight. Our previous Diversity Gap studies on the Tony Awards and the children’s book industry revealed a disturbing trend in ethnic and gender representation. We decided to focus on the television industry next.

How to Deal with a Racist Remark

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about being called a racial slur in my hometown. The post generated a lively discussion. As a follow-up, we decided to put together a flow chart that illustrates possible courses of action a person might take when an unfortunate incident like this occurs. While choosing to turn and walk away is always an option, those on the receiving end of racism are fully aware that these incidents are upsetting, and sometimes it makes sense to stand up for yourself and others.

Why Hasn’t the Number of Multicultural Books Increased In Eighteen Years?

Since LEE & LOW BOOKS was founded in 1991 we have monitored the number of multicultural children’s books published each year through the Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s statistics. Our hope has always been that with all of our efforts and dedication to publishing multicultural books for more than twenty years, we must have made a difference. Surprisingly, the needle has not moved. Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, children’s book publishing has not kept pace. We asked academics, authors, librarians, educators, and reviewers if they could put their fingers on the reason why the number of diverse books has not increased.

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