Whenever I approach a publisher or distributor about my desire to stock my high school shelves with Young Adult books with characters of color the response is easy to predict:
- “There just aren’t that many being published because there aren’t that many writers.” (false)
- “The market just isn’t there.” (also false)
What drives the second excuse into the dust is a recent survey released by the Pew Research Center, E-Reading Rises as Device Ownership Jumps.
Looky, looky. Which ethnic group has the highest reading rate? Black folk. Eighty-one percent of Black people read at least one book last year versus just 76% of white people. Why is it that less than 3% of books published feature a character of color?
With this kind of hard evidence at hand I’m glad to say I have a tool to advocate for more books for my kids based purely on a profit-minded model. As we all know, the push for social justice is a noble but slow process, but the push for more money is lightning fast.