January 28, 2015

Ebony Elizabeth Thomas uses LA Times reviews to highlight multicultural children’s literature

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Children’s and adolescent texts are a major focal point of Ebony Elizabeth Thomas’s research at Penn GSE. She focuses on the absence and failed representation of multicultural characters in these stories. This shortage of children’s and young adult books which present diverse characters positively, Thomas argues, has decreased the desire of marginalized and minority youth to pick up a book and read.

Now Thomas, as a periodic reviewer for the Los Angeles Times books section, has the opportunity to review often-overlooked works that feature children and teens of color, both now and throughout U.S. history.

“The publishing business has an imagination gap when it comes to children’s and young adult literature,” Thomas said. “Nine out of ten books published for a juvenile audience feature the same kinds of white characters that have been highlighted since the industry started. Stereotyping, caricature, and marginalization have been chronic problems.”

“This forum allows me to highlight books that show children and teens of color in a realistic and positive fashion. It’s important that all juvenile readers have access to more books like this.”

Earlier this month, Thomas reviewed four children’s picture books that illustrate both the hardships and aspirations of African Americans. These picture books, which include topics of slavery and the Harlem Renaissance, aim to introduce children to these aspects of U.S. history early in their lives.

You can read her latest review here.