Diversity in children’s books

The Cooperative Children’s Book Center released statistics on diverse books and their authors in 2014. These books were acquired in 2012 0r earlier. The report shows that creators of color are still heavily underrepresented. Also, books about diversity were mostly not written by people of color. I don’t find that offensive, as a long as that author does not misrepresents the culture she or he is writing about, or reinforce stereo types.

Four  groups were studied, Africans and American africans, American Indians, Asian Pacifics and Asian American Pacific Americans, and Latinos. Only the last group has the largest ratio of books written by Latinos.  The biggest difference is in the African groups.  Fewest books written by or about, is in the American Indian group. The difference between “about but not by” and “by and about” is smallest in the Asian group.

As an ethnic Chinese, I find this information very interesting. As I go through my six published stories and articles in magazines, five had a Chinese sensibility. A forthcoming article in the April issue of a magazine about a German-Jewish man does not. “You write what you know”, a mantra among writers, is probably why this is so. I am looking for a publisher for my debut novel,  about the Japanese Internment in WWII, has a Japanese sensibility. I did a lot of research to write this book and felt compelled to write it. If US and China were at war, the American- Chinese would have been in the same boat.

Talking for myself,when diverse books are needed, if I write well and often, I should have a chance to be a published book author.

Marrying the enemy

I’ve been reading the books for young readers by Lensey Mamioka, because she writes the genre I’m interested in and she has a multicultural perspective. One more perspective than I have. She married a Japanese man she met in college.  Born in 1929, it took great courage for a Chinese to marry a Japanese.  Even today, the older generation of Chinese remember the Japanese atrocities in China and Hong Kong in the 1940s. Her experience of opposition of both families to the marriage informed her novel, Mismatch, a perceptive story invoking the mores of the Japanese and Chinese culture.

My neighbors are a German married to a Hungarian Jew who lost her father at Dachau. They are in the early eighties. That’s another marriage requiring great courage.