Diversity in Children’s Books
I recently read an article that suggested that Children’s Books were being used for leftist brainwashing, by forcing authors to include characters in their books of other races, genders, religions or from the LGBTQ+ community.
I mean, how very dare them to force or children to become accustomed to all sort of people and situations in life. Can you imagine?
Because there is a bit of a misconception here. Or maybe an approach that needs to change.
So far, we felt that it was important for all groups of humans to find books and characters with whom they can identify. The idea is that if I am a Chinese immigrant, I should be able to read books about Chinese immigrants. Or if I’m black, Hindu, boy, girl, trans, on a wheelchair, etc.
But I think there is more to it than that, and I need to refer to a similar, current and ongoing situation.
Boys reading vs girls reading.
From an early age, children make decisions on what to play with, what to watch, what to read. Now, if you’re like me, you might spend a lot of time repeating the words ‘there is no such thing as girl books and boy books, there is just books you like and books you don’t like.’ Or toys, or TV shows, etc. Sadly, that’s not sufficient. No matter what I do, the words ‘that’s girl toy’ or that a ‘boy cartoon’ still come into the conversation.
Not so much for books though, and specially from my daughter.
If you think of all the books you have read and you’re a woman, you might find that, while a lot of them might have female main characters, a lot of them also have male main characters, depending on the genre.
If you’re a man, it is most likely that all of the main characters in your reading list have been male.
Women seem to have less problem relating to male character than men have relating to female main characters.
And yet there are a lot of men who write romance under female pen names, but that’s another story.
The thing is, in previous generations, men were not encouraged so much to learn about what it’s like to be a woman. Yet girls have been pretty encouraged to learn what it’s like to be a man. A lot of our world is built around men. For example, a lot of medicine and anatomy that today we take for granted has been strictly studied on men and assumptions made about women being the same, which is not necessarily true.
You must be wondering what all that has to do with diversity in children’s books. Me too.
Seriously, here is it.
If children are taught early on to relate to characters that are different than themselves, they will be more likely to relate to people that are different than themselves. Of course, books alone are not enough. This needs to be reinforced with what they see in their families and friends, but early children literature certainly helps shape children’s minds.
So diversity in books is not only a positive for those who might be in the minorities of their social environment, to have moral stories with characters they can relate and look up to, but also for the rest of people, to be comfortable with diversity and learn to understand and keep an open mind to people different than they might be.
There is, however, no risk of leftist, diversity brain washing so far. If parents feel they have to write their own children’s books so their kids can see people similar to them in their bedtime stories, we are far from being overwhelmed by the extreme politically correct dialogue the article I read was moaning about.
Children should be encouraged to read on a variety of subjects, with a variety of characters who have a variety of abilities, issues, and approaches to life. Diversity applies to everything and it’s always positive for children to experience it.