by Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.
The New York Times publishes several “best of” lists, including the Book Reviews’ Notable Children’s Books of 2013. Not a single Latino author, illustrator, or character made this year’s cut. Is it the first time this has happened? No. In the last ten years, only one book from this body of literature has been selected by the editor and committee. Is it that Hispanic authors are not publishing? They are, as my co-founder Monica Olivera argues in her Op-ed in NBC Latino. Small, independent publishers have been publishing children’s books by Hispanic authors and illustrators since at least the 1980s. Add to this that today, self-publishing is exploding. Judge for yourself by reading our Remarkable Children’s Literature of 2013
Maybe Hispanic kids lit authors and illustrators aren’t up to snuff? As to the judgement that this literature isn’t good enough which undergirds repeated exclusions, the work of Dr. Monica Brown and Rafael Lopez earned them an invitation to the 2013 National Book Festival.
The Library of Congress can’t be wrong. Rather what is wrong are exclusive, clubby gatekeepers whose far reaching dicta have real consequences: publishers aren’t motivated to pursue new authors and audiences. Same goes for bookstores, schools, and libraries across the country that only stock titles based on these big lists and those requested by the public (also influenced by these lists).
Click below to watch the video of our Latinas for Latino Lit (L4LL) Google+ Hangout on Air with children’s book authors Graciela Tiscareno-Sato and author/illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh on the exclusion of Hispanic authors and illustrators from The New York Times Book Reviews’ Notable Children’s Books of 2013 and their different publishing journeys.
With my L4LL co-founder Monica, our discussion focused on:
- Why these “lists” count
- How the mainstream can better access this talent and reach and engagement Hispanic readers to more accurately represent American literature and society
- Today, despite the economic recession, more ways exist to publish and access books
- Why 52 million Latinos must translate their demographic power into economic power by “showing up” in support of our authors by placing orders and buying books
This is part of our L4LL Read for the Holidays month-long event where we are highlighting books explaining our holiday traditions, Latino authors and illustrators, and a giveaway of tablet computers and Google Play gift cards.