My friend and I just visited Park Road Books here in Charlotte and as she shopped for her daughter, I mentioned that I had recently volunteered at my son’s school‘s book fair. She asked me what books were showcased at the book fair and I pointed to the bookstore’s Dav Pilkey shelf.
Captain Underpants was represented at the book fair, but the prominently displayed Pilkey works featured Cat Kid and Dog Man. I also mentioned the “horror” gaming books about Five Nights at Freddy’s and Poppy Playtime, and those exploring the universes of Minecraft and Roblox.
I mentioned the one shelf of books by Black authors and that there was nothing offered in Spanish that I saw (the school did request books in Spanish). It’s my opinion that, for better or worse, diversity has become a marketing story in many sectors, including children’s publishing.
I believe that children’s publishers are, with open hearts and in good faith, making an effort to publish more inclusively.
But before this sincere effort has time to take root, it is being commoditized. This is unavoidable.
So, I asked my friend: “Do you think that it is easier to publish books about video game monsters and animals than to evaluate a manuscript for what human diversity it adds to children’s publishing?”
What do you think?
I have no idea if any of the books I mentioned address diversity—
I‘m only curious about the characters themselves.