Diversity in young adult literature is lacking, but improvements are on the horizon. Publishing house Lee & Low Books, in partnership with the National Education Association “and the nonprofit First Book will provide thousands of diverse books to schools and students in low-income communities.” This is a crucial first step in expanding the genre to include more minority authors and characters.
Lee & Low is “the largest multicultural children’s book publisher in the United States”. Through the partnership, the publishing house will expand it’s New Visions Award, which “awards a publication contract to an unpublished author of color for a middle grade or young adult manuscript”. In the past the organization only awarded one a year, but will now be able to increase that number.
According to the 2015 study by the “Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Education”, which looked at 3,200 books from the US published in 2015, only 10% of children’s books “were written by a Latino, black, Asian American or Pacific Islander, or American Indian/First Nations author.”
This new partnership will look to increase that number and close the gap among minority authors. Children or more likely to read a book when the story reflects their reality. It’s time to expand literature for our children’s sake.