Back in first-grade, we learned to read from books featuring invariably blond, blue-eyed children. Today, primers have more variety, but multicultural pleasure reading, where it exists, is not always available to poor children.
Leslie Kaufman wrote recently at the NY Times that a “nonprofit called First Book, which promotes literacy among children in low-income communities, announced the Stories for All project, a program intended to prod publishers to print more multicultural books. …
“In a 2012 study, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison evaluated some 3,600 books, looking for multicultural content. Of the books examined, 3.3 percent were found to be about African-Americans, 2.1 percent were about Asian-Pacific Americans, 1.5 percent were about Latinos and 0.6 percent were about American Indians.” More.
First Book picked two winning publishers in its first Stories for All competition — HarperCollins and Lee & Low Books — and purchased $500,000-worth of books from them. The books “will be available beginning in May through the First Book Marketplace, a website offering deeply discounted books and educational materials exclusively to schools and programs serving kids in need.”
Among the books are: “Shooter”, Walter Dean Myers (HarperCollins); “Tofu Quilt”, Ching Yueng (Lee & Low Books); “In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson”, Bette Bao Lord (HarperCollins); “The Storyteller’s Candle: La Velita de Los Cuentos”, Lucia Gonzalez (Lee & Low Books); “El Bronx Remembered: A Novella and Stories”, Nicholasa Mohr (HarperCollins); and “Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story”, Ken Mochizuki (Lee & Low Books).
More information at FirstBook.org.
Photograph: Strategies for Children