After my last post, I realized I could do a better job presenting my rationale for this diversity symposium in Canada. I think I’ll send out the outline again with this additional preamble. Since no guests have officially been invited, I’ve removed the names of suggested participants.
“Still Searching for Mirrors:
Multicultural Children’s Literature in Canada”
As a black Canadian author who writes and publishes in the US, I have often wondered how the two industries compare when it comes to publishing diverse titles for young readers. With the help of several other black book bloggers here in the US, I recently compiled a list of the middle grade (MG) and young adult (YA) titles published by black authors in 2010; to my surprise, we came up with almost sixty titles and so I decided to compile a similar list for Canada. Unfortunately, I was only able to find ONE black-authored novel for teen readers published in Canada in 2010. This is in keeping with statistics I compiled earlier in the year (blog post #1, blog post #2) that show Canadian presses publish only a handful of black authors each year:
Children’s Books By and About Black People
Published in Canada
|Number of English-Language Books
African / Caribbean
*the Canadian Children’s Book Centre
Just as troubling as the low number of published black authors is the fact that in the past ten years, there seem to be no MG/YA novels that feature a black protagonist and take place in contemporary Canada. These (unscientific) findings led me to ask the following questions:
1. Why are so few black authors being published in a country that claims to value multiculturalism?
2. Are other racial groups better represented in Canadian children’s publishing? If so, what can we learn from their success?
3. How many people of color are employed in the publishing industry in Canada?
4. What impact does the lack of contemporary black fiction have on young readers in Canada?
5. What can be done to increase the number of authors and the range of stories being told about people of African descent?
To encourage discussion and develop an agenda for change, I am proposing a one-day symposium to address the issue of diversity in Canadian children’s publishing. My participation in the inspiring conference, A Is for Anansi, at NYU this past fall convinced me that this is a conversation Canadians also need to have.
- Keynote Address: Who is the authority on this topic?
1. Multicultural Children’s Literature in Canada: How Far Have We Come?
2. Responding to Racism in the Canadian Publishing Industry
3. Books at Home/Books at School: Searching for a Mirror
4. How to Write/Publish for Young Readers
- Concluding remarks: Creating an agenda for change
If you’d like to offer suggestions and/or help in the planning of this event, please leave a comment.