For far too long, children’s books that feature diverse characters have been hard to come by.
That has changed significantly in the last few years, with a new breed of publishers like Lantana Publishing spearheading the way.
Stories are instrumental in developing a child’s imagination, inspiring their empathy, and empowering them to do extraordinary things.
But in order for stories to truly resonate with any reader, it’s important that the reader can see themselves in the stories they read.
Children of colour, children with non-traditional family structures, and children with disabilities do not often see themselves in the books they read. For example, half of all children in the US are non-white, but only 23 percent of children’s books published in the US in 2018 had non-white protagonists.
In the UK, fewer than five percent of books have non-white characters; nowhere near representational of the one-third of children in the UK who are Asian, Black, or from other minorities. This lack of representation does not reflect the diverse world we live in.
Diverse characters are essential. They allow children from marginalized groups to see themselves and have a voice. Diverse characters also inspire children to understand and accept those who are different from them, and eventually become drivers of social change.
In 2020, these books are ever more crucial to helping children navigate the world. Books about race and inclusivity have encouraged children to think about the role of race in their society.
Books about the coronavirus pandemic have inspired children to stay resilient and patient in uncertain times.
“Because all children deserve to see themselves in the books they read,” reads the tagline of Lantana Publishing, displayed in big, bold letters on their homepage. And their collection of books stays true to this mission statement.
Through their books, your child can travel to northwestern Kenya and meet Etabo, an aspiring camel racer and the protagonist in The Wooden Camel.
Or, a child can go to Malaysia and meet Kaya, the brave and joyful girl who is the star of Kaya’s Heart Song. Twelve books of their inclusive collection are now available for free through Worldreader. — Worldreader.org.