African-American kids are raising awareness for the need of children’s books with diverse characters. At age 10, Marley Dias famously launched #1000BlackGirlsBooks, a book drive to collect 1,000 books about Black girls. Her campaign caught fire and showed the urgency not only for diversity but also non-stereotypical characters.
Quartz reported that researchers from Maine’s Bates College launched Diverse Bookfinders, a database of 1,300 children’s books, and discovered in the process a disturbing pattern of stereotyping characters of color.
Typically, Black characters live oppressed lives. And Asian and Hispanic characters are places in culturally biased settings.
“These [traditional cultural settings] are important, but not rich, and can perpetuate stereotypes that Hispanic children are different or ‘other,’” Krista Aronson, a psychologist and the lead researcher, said, according to Quartz.
“The same is true about African American children; it’s a stereotype—that Black children are in a struggle or somehow superheroes and ever resilient,” she added.
Until book publishers get the message, kids like Marley and 12-year-old Sidney Keys III, from St. Louis, are guiding the way. Sidney started a book club named Books N Bros for boys his age to discover books with characters that look like them and lead positive, uplifting lives filled with accomplishments.
Meanwhile, Aronson’s team has a mission to categorize all the children’s books about people of color, published or reprinted in the United States since 2002.