Unfortunately, the New York Times not being able to find one children’s book written or illustrated by a Latino for it’s Notable Children’s Books of 2013 is not a surprise. This is not the first time. In fact, in the last ten years, the New York Times has only included one title written or illustrated by an Hispanic, notes Monica Olivera in an Op-Ed in NBC Latino. Together, Monica and I co-founded the literacy and education organization Latinas for Latino Lit (L4LL), home of the first, nationwide online Latino children’s summer reading program.
To help the Times, Monica published Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature of 2013 featuring seven titles. However, it is not about needing “guidance.” The Times’ repeated omission points to a structural problem rooted in the lack of diversity at the decision-making level which is not exclusive to the New York Times as I discuss on CNN’s Reliable Sources. You can read more and watch: VIDEO: On CNN for the First Time: Is Best Man Holiday a “Race-based” Film?
The editor and panel of reviewers are presenting an inaccurate view of American literature that is more representative of the mid-20th century when many of these “best of” lists began than 2013. Today, America is more mixed and diverse according to the U.S. Census data, but as important, Latino authors and illustrators have been producing award-winning fiction, since at least the 1980s, supported by independent presses. The literature is out there but the Times refuses to look outside its clubby, exclusive backyard of the New York publishing industry.
The repercussions reach far and wide: these lists wield the power to signal to publishing houses new authors and audiences to engage and reach; bookstores, libraries, and schools receive direction on the books that make it on bookshelves and into curricula; Latino children don’t see themselves in these books which eliminates a powerful pedagogical tool for academic achievement–identification; others students’ vistas aren’t expanded to include the experiences of many of their classmates, crucial given that Latino children make up 25% of the public school student body.
These are some of the issues discussed on NPR’s Tell Me More with guest host Celeste Headlee. Click to read my complete post On NPR: Latino Children’s Lit to Top Lists on Latinas for Latino Lit. Click below to hear the NPR complete interview which aired on December 9, 2013.In 2013, why does the “liberal” media continue excluding whole groups under the auspices of accuracy?