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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Entertainment Weekly — Kid Lit’s Primary Color

Entertainment Weekly is one of my favorite magazines, so I was very excited to see this in the April 11, 2014 edition:

Kid Lit’s Primary Color: White by Nina Terrero, illustration by David Schwen.

A couple of weeks ago, I was doing a Skype visit with a class and the conversation turned to diversity and children’s literature and what can be done; and one thing that we touched on was how often the conversations we have are with each other, and that can be a problem. That articles and attention need to be in places with a broader reach. So, when I saw this article in EW I was quite excited!

But how is the article?

Pretty darn good.


– an interview with a parent, talking of the personal challenge of finding books for her children.

– statistics, showing how few feature main characters who aren’t white.

– interviews with various people from publishing houses.

– interviews with authors.

– the ongoing efforts to have books that reflect the demographics of our country.

It’s a two page article, which is pretty darn good coverage.

My only complaint is what isn’t included — and that is titles.

Here is a terrific article being read by many people who are being introduced to the lack of diversity in children’s and teen books for the first time. Some EW readers will be nodding in agreement, others will be realizing it for the first time.

I don’t think I’m being overly optimistic when I think, many of those readers will be wanting to know titles. Yes, there aren’t enough books being published, but one of the “reasons” quoted in the article is a belief that books with nonwhite characters don’t sell.

There is also, I believe, difficulty in finding the books that are being published. The parent in the article says “Flat Stanley could be Asian or Latino” and part of me wanted to answer, “but there is Alvin Ho and Delphine Gaither.”

I firmly believe in pushing for more books, but also in talking about the books that are already there. And the EW article doesn’t do that — it doesn’t include a book list of recent titles for parents, to give them a starting point when they go into their local bookstores.

To continue my optimism: one of the reasons I like EW is that it always includes books. And it also frequently includes YA books. While there is no list with the article, I’m hoping that going forward EW will be including more books with nonwhite characters in its reviews.

About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is


  1. If you haven’t done it already, you should send this/something-along-these-lines/links-to-lists to EW as a letter-to-the-editor. It would be an awesome addition.

  2. I totally agree! We need black white and all shades of gray to be represented in children’s books. This is an issue that bothers me too.

  3. If the book’s characters aren’t all white you’ll never get a trilogy published.
    Or the four movies to go with it.

  4. One of the reasons I like EW are the articles on books, too! It does include a diversity of titles, at least on the adult side. One of the reasons I bought, read, and loved Americanah was because I saw it reviewed in its pages. It’s also where I found How to Get Rich in Rising Asia and other titles that I hadn’t heard about elsewhere.

  5. Yes, the article is a start. I also fervently hope that EW will begin promoting more books with characters of color and by authors of color. Like you said, there are SO many good books out there and EW would be a great platform to alert people who want to read more books with characters who look like them, also to alert people who make reading diversely a part of their lives.


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