Racial Diversity in Children’s Books: The Pros & Cons of Subtlety

The Misfortune Of Knowing

Redheaded Sri Lankan ReaderI want my daughters to read books that feature characters from diverse racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Back in May, during the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, I wrote:

My daughters need to know that everyone has a story to tell, and that stories written by or featuring people of another race, ethnicity, or gender aren’t just stories for that demographic. They need to know that people of all races, ethnicities, and genders are able to attain success in the world (including in the literary world!). It’s not enough for me to tell them these messages; they need to see it for themselves in real life and in the books they read.

But how should authors convey this diversity in their books?

It’s difficult to write about race or ethnicity in a clearly recognizable way without over-emphasizing the stereotypical differences between racial groups that are the easiest to describe, such as skin…

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