The Diversity Baseline Survey was designed to measure the lack of diversity within the publishing industry. The data also allows us to track progress as our industry grows and evolves. In 2016, Lee & Low Books sponsored and organized the first major publishing Diversity Baseline Survey (DBS 1.0). The DBS 1.0 measured the staff diversity of reviewers and publishers and has opened up a renewed interest in how to improve staff diversity. In January 2020, Lee & Low Books organized the second Diversity Baseline Survey (DBS 2.0) and released the results.
Below, you’ll find our Educator Resource Guide for the Diversity Baseline Survey. We’ve gathered discussion questions and activities for educators to use in the classroom (including virtual classrooms too!).
Discussion questions to consider with your students:
- What patterns do you see? What trends do you see? How are the different charts related? What makes you think that?
- What is the central idea of this infographic? How do the words, phrases, and visuals interact to affirm the central idea?
- Based on the infographic, what does “diversity gap” mean in terms of the publishing industry? How did you come to that conclusion?
- What might the author’s purpose be in choosing this medium (in the form of an infographic) to convey the central idea (to shame, inspire, shock, etc.)? What are other ways of displaying data that you have found impactful? Why?
- Does the infographic make the central idea clear and obvious? How does the infographic use an economy of words, language, typography, pie charts, bar graphs, negative space, and title to communicate the central idea?
- What type of infographic is this (flow chart, web, map, graph, diagram, table, timeline)? What might the author’s purpose be in choosing this type of infographic? How effective is this format of infographic at organizing and displaying data compared to just text?
- Evaluate the effectiveness of the infographic as a form of communication as compared to text alone. Is this the most effective and convincing way to convey information about a lack of diversity in publishing? Why or why not?
- Why might the creators have assembled this information about publishing and race (and gender, disability, and sexual orientation) at all?
- Who is the intended audience (customers/readers, authors and illustrators, editors, sales people, marketers and publicists, general public, government officials)? What might the creators of this infographic want them to do with this information?
- What is the context of this infographic? What major events in the United States were taking place when this infographic was published in 2020? Why is it important to understand the context of the infographic?
- Is this infographic’s argument and presentation persuasive or compelling? Why or why not? Analyze this infographic’s effectiveness in inspiring activism.
- Based on the information presented, what can you predict future trends will be for authors and illustrators, editors, literary agents, reviewers, interns, and management?
- According to this infographic, what entities are part of the publishing industry or ecosystem? Do you think other groups should be included in future surveys of the publishing industry? How would you define the “publishing industry”?
- Can you determine causes for the lack of diversity in this infographic? Why or why not? How might researchers go about figuring out the cause(s) for the historical and current lack of diversity in publishing?
- What is the impact of a lack of diversity amongst senior management, editors, salespeople, marketers and publicists, interns, literary agents, and reviewers? How do these “gatekeepers” affect the media that we consume?
- Knowing who is behind the creation of books in the United States (and who is largely not), what do you think it means to be a young child growing up and consuming this form of media (books)? What will they see? What will they not see? Tell me more about the possible effects of this situation and current trends.
- How does the lack of diversity in publishing compare to the diversity or lack of diversity in children’s books published each year (see: https://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/books/pcstats.asp)? How do you think the lack of diversity in publishing impacts what books are acquired, promoted, and win awards?
- Challenge students to translate this infographic’s central idea into a written argument. Students should use key details and evidence from the infographic to assert the central idea.
- Have students revise or add on to make the infographic more effective. Students should consider format, adding or deleting information, and more. What would make the infographic stronger, more persuasive, or more memorable?
- Encourage students to investigate how these demographic percentages in publishing compare to the demographics of the general U.S. population and children. Students can use the United States Census data for demographics.
- Inspire students to research another industry (sports, entertainment) with a lack of diversity. If possible, students can gather other infographics or attempt to create their own from their findings and present to the class.
- Have students investigate possible causes for the lack of diversity in the publishing industry. Urge students to propose ways to change these trends.
- If possible, ask students to research the percent of book customers who are people of color. Check industry publications or major news periodicals. How do these numbers compare to the information in the infographic?
- Permit students to interview their grade, class, or school on questions, including: Do you read books outside of school (either digital or in print)? How often? What kinds of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors or book characters today? Who is an author or illustrator of color that you have read recently? Why do you think there aren’t more books by and with people of color? Students can organize and display data in graphs and present findings to the class. Reflect on this information’s relationship to the infographic’s central idea.
- Compare this to the first Lee & Low Books’ Diversity Baseline Survey in the series. Consider central idea, evidence, format, and audience.
- Compare this infographic and data to the demographics in other industries. Lee & Low Books has infographics on the Tony Awards, Emmy Awards, The New York Times Top 10 Bestsellers List, Sci-fi and Fantasy Films, the Academy Awards, and American Politics all available here. Encourage students to think about what patterns they see across industries and what is unique to particular industries. Why is it important to think about who is creating, funding, and promoting media and art in a culture?
For further reading on teaching visual literacy and diversity in the classroom, check out these fantastic resources:
- Common Core in Action: 10 Visual Literacy Strategies by Edutopia
- An Approach For Teaching Diversity by Jim Winship
- An Introduction to Information Design by John Emerson and Backspace
- Teaching with Infographics: Places to Start by The New York Times The Learning Network
- Addressing the CCSS with the Use of Infographics by Kathy Schrock’s Kaffeeklatsch
- Standards Introduction by ACRL Visual Literacy Standards
- Classroom Resources from Teaching Tolerance, a Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center
- Visual Literacy Part 1 by School of Teaching and Learning, Ohio State University
- Close Reading + Visual Literacy = Pathways For Understanding