By: Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D. and Monica Olivera, L4LL Co-founders
At the end of the year, “tastemakers” such as The New York Times, National Public Radio (NPR), and the Washington Post publish their “best of” lists. Unlike previous years when their selections featured few, if any Hispanic authors, we were thrilled to see more titles, perhaps influenced by our L4LL Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature of 2014 published weeks earlier (which you can download and print by clicking here). Our annual “Best of the Best” children’s literature titles written by or about Latinos include award-winning authors such as Duncan Tonatiuh and publishers ranging from household name New York presses to community-focused, independent companies. NBC picked up our list and shared it with their readers.
Unfortunately, The New York Times released their list of this year’s Notable Children’s Books and once more, it does not feature a single U.S. Latino author or illustrator or a book featuring a Hispanic main character.
This glaring absence is rooted not in Hispanic authors’ lack of talent. Rather, their exclusion reflects the New York Time’s significant professional blind spots and institutional flaws which in 2014 continues to define diversity as black and white, and in a twist this year, British and Asian-Canadian. For the L4LL Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature of 2014, we featured seven titles. In the face of data that proves the so-called browning of America due to the influx and mixing between different races and ethnicities, including Latinos, it is high time that The New York Times remove its blinders to more fully represent America’s literary talent in its Best of Lists.
It is clear that this list is incomplete. Yet The New York Time’s judgement has a disproportional social impact: which authors are published and by whom? This, in turn, affects the books that libraries, schools, and bookstores order and children read.
As our country’s demographics quickly change, the L4LL Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature of 2014 list sparks an important conversation rooted in our common American values, empathy, and love of reading where Latino students see themselves reflected in literature and non-Hispanic kids learn about the experiences of a growing number of their peers in well-written stories that touch on universal themes.
The New York Times and other tastemakers becoming more inclusive and accurate is our secondary objective. Our list is meant to be a resource for families, libraries, and schools hungry for guidance on great stories that more accurately represent the American experience. May the New York Times be reminded–once more–of one of its core missions–a more accurate representation and reflection of our country.
Click here to hear an NPR interview and view the Remarkable Latino Children’s Literature of 2013 list.