Books Culture

As educators prepare for Read Across America Day on March 2, children’s book buyers are invited to ‘Meet Latina Publishers’ live virtual event on Feb 10

Independent publishers suggest less Seuss and more literature that reflects America’s diverse student populations.

Naibe Reynosoa, Graciela Tiscareno-Sato, and Sandra Gonzalez-Mora

LOS ANGELES, CA — (LATINX NEWSWIRE) — Across the nation, shopping for books and other preparations are underway for the annual community celebration of literacy.

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Three independent press owners, all mothers, and authors of color ask educators and parents to pause and ask this question: Do these books reflect the diversity of the students I serve?

Sandra Gonzalez-Mora, Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, and Naibe Reynoso are all founders of independent publishing companies. They are social entrepreneurs, investing their energy, time, and money to offer children’s book buyers and communities across the USA innovative literature that more accurately reflects them, their language, their culture, and their world.

These three publishers invite curriculum directors, librarians, teachers, and parents to gather for a live Meet Latina Publishers Zoom chat on February 10th from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. PT to learn more about their work. REGISTER for the event here: https://bit.ly/3GtOwNz

They are leading the impassioned, national movement demanding a shift in how school districts buy books, typically from large incumbent publishers slow to respond to the needs of a minority-majority student population.

Graciela Tiscareño-Sato said, “In August 2014, in an Education Week article titled U.S. School Enrollment Hits Majority-Minority Milestone, we learned that ‘Latino, African-American, and Asian students in public K-12 classrooms were expected to surpass the number of non-Hispanic whites.’ The questions educators and parents must ask themselves are these: WHY haven’t more buyers of curriculum materials, books in classrooms, and books in school libraries kept up with our schools’ demographic changes? WHY haven’t institutional buyers sought out indie publishers like us who have been ahead of the curve creating ground-breaking literature that reflects and inspires our diverse student populations?”

How can books in classrooms and public libraries across the country better reflect the diversity within the communities they serve? With Latinos accounting for about half (52%) of all U.S. population growth between 2010 and 2019, this question becomes much more critical. Latinos are the country’s second-largest ethnic group, behind white non-Hispanics, a fact not currently reflected in the children’s books that circulate in public and school libraries and classrooms.

“Latinx-owned publishing companies are galvanizing to change this landscape in the children’s publishing industry, it’s time,” said Sandra Gonzalez-Mora, author and owner of Skillful & Soulful Press.

2020 data on books by and about Black, Indigenous, and People of Color published for children and teens compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC), School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison state that out of the 3,115 books they received from U.S. publishers, only 212 books were written by Latinx authors and 191 books were about Latinx characters.

“Latinos are almost 20% of the population but we are largely invisible across all forms of media,” said journalist and Con Todo Press publisher, Naibe Reynoso. “This is a disservice not only to our community  but it’s a missed educational opportunity for all classrooms.”

It is clear from the data collected by the CCBC year after year that traditional publishing is comfortably holding the status quo that isn’t serving all children in this country. The approach these women are taking to help children’s literature become more inclusive and reflective of U.S demographics is to write, illustrate, publish, and market their unique stories, often in multiple languages.

March 2 is Read Across America Day. This day is synonymous with books by Dr. Seuss,  considered classics, which are created by white authors about white children and white families.

This year, these Latina creators have a call to action: they encourage more teachers and librarians across the USA to think about the young faces of students they serve and to intentionally purchase stories that represent them, reflect their communities and ambitions, and recognize their undeniable value across America.

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