I am an elementary school librarian in an urban setting in Massachusetts. Through the work of creating a more representative and inclusive library collection for my students, I learned a lot about the politics of the publishing industry, the accepted institutional racism and purposeful exclusion of communities in books and that we should be outraged at the continued disenfranchisement of our children.
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Series of Series: Dyamonde Daniel

Here is a series about a little girl, Dyamonde Daniel. In the first book of the series, Dyamonde is a new student in school. She is not meek, but strong and determined to make friends. This is refreshing in its self, a new girl not being portrayed as trepidatious, but rather strong in herself and not deterred by her "newness". I would describe Dyamonde as a spunky character with great appeal, she is easy to route for (more so than some of her literary peers which I find a bit whiny...*cough* Junie B. Jones *cough*).

The author of this series, is the wonderful and prolific Nikki Grimes. She has written a plethora of books which are incredibly popular in my library and many libraries across the country. Two years ago, Lee & Low Publishing posed the question to writers and scholars of color, why aren't more books featuring non-white protagonists published? Here is part of Nikki Grimes's response:

I, myself, am finding it exceedingly challenging to sell at the level I was even five years ago. There are still too few people of color represented in the decision-making positions in publishing, as well. But I think it’s more than that. I think authors of color who do not produce manuscripts that fit an expected demographic, who, for example, are writing books featuring characters who are middle class, instead of poor, or characters who live in two-parent households, instead of single-parent homes, are finding it difficult to place their manuscripts. That, of course, speaks to the perception that only people of color will want to purchase books by people of color, and so publishers want to play to the audience which they believe—wrongly or not—is the average, or the norm.

This is harrowing, if Nikki Grimes is having a more difficult time getting published how can we expect new writers or less "famous" authors to get books published that aren't writing to the "perception" of what a character of color "should" be portrayed as?

For the complete interview from Lee & Low, click here.

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