African American Literature

1053 Words 5 Pages
African Americans in Children’s Literature
A study focusing on multiculturalism in children’s literature found that in 2013, only 93 of 3,200 children’s books were centered around African American characters (Myers, 2014). Myers asserts that the study also found that only 67 children’s titles were actually written by African American authors (2013). Rudine Bishop states that when Black characters do appear in children’s literature, they often appear “as objects of ridicule and generally inferior beings” (2012, p. 6). According to Bishop, these representations were meant to give a harsh image of African Americans (2012). The limited and inaccurate portrayals of African American characters in children’s books, can lead to children establishing
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Norton (2013) found that traditional children’s literature portrayed African Americans as unattractive, often dancing and singing, religious and superstitious to an exaggerated level, and needing white people for any good things they want. Similarly Brooks and McNair found that representations of African Americans in books included features such as being unattractive, lazy, unintelligent, inferior and low class citizens (2009). Most of those depictions in children’s literature were by white authors (Brooks and McNair, 2009). According to Norton (2013), there has been a large collection of prideful authentic folklore representing African roots and an early Muslim and Middle East influence, however the retellings of those stories have not been represented accurately. Brooks and McNair (2009), reveal that book editors are one of the reasons why inaccurate portrayals of African American are published in books. African American authors have often had their books altered by editors in ways which were racially inconsiderate and inaccurate (Brooks and McNair, 2009). One example that was found was an instance where an editor wanted to remove the father character from the African American family because the editor felt it would make the story more authentic (Brooks and McNair, 2009). McNair and Brooks …show more content…
The exposure of African Americans in positive roles can help establish positive ideas of African American to children of other races (Blair, 2013). Positive depictions of African Americans in children’s literature can also lead to positive self-reinforcement for African American children (Bishop, 1990). Children’s literature can enable students to overcome prejudice and stereotypes to an outlook of equality for all people of all backgrounds (Collier,

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