White Americans tend to raise children in nuclear families—just parents and kids—but in many cultures and many immigrant groups, extended families are deeply involved. Only One Year, one of our new Spring books, is about a Chinese American family sending their two-year-old boy to live for a year in China, with his grandparents and surrounded by aunts, uncles, and cousins. In a new BookTalk, author Andrea Cheng talks about the families who inspired her to write this book, as well as cultural differences, siblings, and her own family.
The number of children’s books featuring racial, ethnic, or cultural diversity has not kept pace with the growing diversity of the United States population. Census data from 2008 shows that 34% of the population is minorities. In contrast, the number of children’s books reflecting diversity is about 13% of the books published each year. Since 1994, when the Cooperative Children’s Book Center started to keep statistics of children’s books published by and about people of color, I’ve watched this percentage inch up and down. But there has never been a significant improvement or decline.
It’s bitterly cold outside (at least here in New York), so stay inside and read! Here’s this week’s selection of articles and essays.
Last month we shared an Indian ad for White Beauty, a skin-lightening cream. Now, a study is highlighting the dangers of these types of products, many of which contain steroids or mercury. A NYTimes Op-Ed looks beyond the products and into the roots of their popularity with an exploration of colorism, the tendency to be biased towards people with lighter skin, even within one’s own racial or ethnic group.
It’s a couple years old (Bush was president, remember those years?), but Iranian American comedian Maz Jobrani still hits several nails on the head when talking about being Middle Eastern in America:
There’s an interesting discussion going on over at January Magazine this week about whether we should establish a ratings system for books. The blogger over there, Tony, read an upcoming YA book billed for ages 14 and up. But some 70 pages in, Tony discovered content that he felt was a little, um, mature for the average 14-year-old reader:
“14 and up, I thought. 14 and up? 14 and up?! To me, ’14 and up’ is just another way of saying PG-13. . . . As the father of boys aged 13 and 9, who both love to read, I am now officially worried. Is this the stuff of books for Young Readers? For 14 and up?”
In the professional world of books, made up of librarians and publishers and booksellers, any complaint about the appropriateness of content tends to illicit a knee-jerk reaction and cry of censorship. And, frankly, when people are removing dictionaries from schools because they contain definitions of words that parents deem inappropriate, it’s not hard to see why. But Tony has a sensible argument: Shouldn’t there at least be some sort of rating so readers know what they are getting themselves into?
In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Gregory Brothers created a musical remix of his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, delivered the night before his assassination in April 1968.
Welcome back after the long weekend! Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. day is an important one, reminding us of this great man, how far we have come since he had a dream, and how far we still have to go. It’s also a nice opportunity to relax and, for many of us, enjoy a day off.