UW-Madison’s Horning explains why diverse books matter

CBS This Morning utilized the expertise of UW–Madison’s KT Horning for a video report that is headlined, “Why diverse children’s books are important tools for teaching kids about themselves and others.”

Kathleen Horning

Horning is the director of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC), which is housed in the School of Education.

While children have more opportunities now than in the past to find books about Black characters and other people of color, the report explains, that change has been slow — and not particularly steady.

“The fact that we’re seeing the numbers of books (with diverse characters) go up now is a very good sign, but we’ve seen that happen before,” explained Horning. “The publishing industry is still very white, and it caters mostly to white parents, and teachers, and librarians, and ultimately children.”

The report notes that a recent survey showed that 3 out of 4 people who work in the book industry are white. There have been big gains in representation before, but after a peak in 1997 the number of new children’s book with Black characters flatlined and then fell to a low in 2013. More recently, the number of children’s books with Black characters has quadruped, along with big increases in books about all people of color.

Why is this important? CBS Co-host Tony Dokoupil said he knows that some people think, “It’s just a kids’ book — what’s the big deal?”

Horning explained: “I think children’s books are a really important part of a good foundation for living in the real world. Books have an impact.”

“It’s a great luxury to be able to say this doesn’t matter,” she said.

View the full report at cbsnews.com.

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