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NCTE Position Statement

Resolution on the Need for Diverse Children's and Young Adult Books

Approved by NCTE Members Voting at the Annual Business Meeting for the
Board of Directors and Other Members of the Council, November 2014

 

Ratified by a Vote of the NCTE Membership, February 2015

 

Background 

 

In the world of literature for young people, the kinds of print and digital texts that are accessible to youth are determined and authorized by influential individuals and professional organizations: editors/publishers, agents, authors/book creators, illustrators, distributors, booksellers, librarians, educators, parents, and the media. The absence of human, cultural, linguistic, and family diversity in children’s and young adult literature attests to the growing disparity and inequity in the publishing history in the United States (Naidoo & Dahlen, 2013; Vavrus, 2014). Stories matter. Lived experiences across human cultures including realities about appearance, behavior, economic circumstance, gender, national origin, social class, spiritual belief, weight, life, and thought matter.

 

The U.S. Census Bureau continues to report the increase in diversity across the country with significant increases projected by 2020; however, publishing rates do not mirror this trend. Every year the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC), housed in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, reports the number of multicultural titles in print. In comparison to titles deemed as “mainstream” or “popular,” the number of published multicultural titles by and about people of color remains low. First Book (2014) reports, “Diverse characters are scarce in kids’ books.” In a CCBC survey (2013) of 3,600 titles,

  • 3.3 percent were about African Americans,
  • 2.1 percent were about Asian-Pacific Americans,
  • 1.5 percent were about U.S. Latinas and Latinos, and
  • 0.6 percent were about Native Americans.

More representative writing for young people is needed on bookshelves and in e-libraries to reflect the cultural diversity of the United States.

 

In 2006, NCTE issued the Resolution on the Essential Roles and Value of Literature in the Curriculum in support of authentic texts and high-quality literature. The Conference on English Education (CEE) Position Statement Supporting Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Learners in English Education provides teachers and teacher educators guidance for “creating humane classrooms” for language and literacy instruction. Most recently, in early 2014, NCTE issued the joint Position Statement on Leisure Reading with the International Reading Association (IRA) and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. The statement included recommendations for recreational reading in classrooms and beyond the school setting. This proposed resolution builds on the 2006 resolution and the two referenced position statements, although greater emphasis is placed on the publication and production of literature to intentionally reflect human diversity. Now is the time for NCTE to advocate for increased publication of culturally diverse literature that reflects human, cultural, linguistic, and family diversity. Be it therefore

 

Resolution

 

Resolved, that the National Council of Teachers of English

  • advocate for more children’s and young adult books from publishers and booksellers that reflect the culturally diverse lives and experiences present in the United States, and
  • highlight and support authors, illustrators, publishers, and booksellers whose work represents multiple perspectives and cultural diversity in the lives of all children.

 

This position statement may be printed, copied, and disseminated without permission from NCTE.

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