Elizabeth Bluemle is an activist bookseller who’s trying to effect change within the publishing community. Stop by her Shelftalker blog if you know of titles that might fit her criteria:
Stories and nonfiction about racially charged eras and issues of racial identity in our culture are critical, of course. But equally important are mainstream stories—in every genre—that feature kids of color as main characters in a setting that, like most of America, is culturally and racially diverse. Stories about friendship, family, pets, love, character, self-reliance, etcetera, in mysteries, adventures, science fiction and fantasy, for every age child and every type of book, including chapter books, board books, easy readers.
I’ll be interested in seeing how many 2011 titles publishers put forward. Out of the 5000 books published annually for children, how many do you think are “non-race-driven multicultural titles”? I’m working on an essay right now about the challenges I face when trying to be an “ethical author.” How do you act with integrity in a homogeneous industry that seems only to value the bottom line? I want my conclusion to offer solutions, and this is my big idea: every year at BookExpo, the publishing community should come together to focus exclusively on equity. We need librarians, teachers, authors, illustrators, publishers, editors, agents, art directors, booksellers, marketing directors, book reviewers, book buyers, and literacy advocates to commit to a set of ethical, equitable standards—like those outlined in the UK Publishing Equalities Charter. We need members of the publishing community to become signatories—to make a solid commitment to taking concrete actions AND to posting their results. That way we can track progress and offer support and resources when signatories fall short of their goals. It’s not enough to rely on folks’ good intentions. Not when all the evidence proves that goodwill, if and when it exists, simply isn’t enough.