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Why it matters to show diversity in children's books, especially at Christmas

Why it matters to show diversity in children's books, especially at Christmas

Parent and a child reading a pop-up book together. The child is wearing a reindeer sweater.

Plenty of families this December will be flipping through “T’was the Night Before Christmas," or “A Christmas Carol.” They’re often considered required seasonal entertainment, like “Home Alone” or “Die Hard.”

But two authors of colour are urging parents and children to remember to snuggle up and also read books where the main characters aren’t just white, but also Black, such as in “Grace at Christmas;” Latinx, such as in “Too Many Tamales” and “N is for Navidad;” Asian, such as in “Yoon and the Christmas Mitten;” or South Asian, such as in “The Night the Reindeer Saved Christmas” written by British South Asian author Raj Kaur Khaira.

At the height of protests against anti-Black racism this summer, there was a surge in interest of literature touching on Blackness, race and diverse perspectives. And, at the time, Carl James, professor and Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora at York University’s Faculty of Education, told, it was vital for parents of all races to openly discuss these issues with younger generations and to start while they were constructing ideas about race.

“All of us have different histories and those histories are rooted in the stories that we tell and our relationship to the state so, therefore, it’s not one blank all-racialized group,” he said. “We have to pay attention to some of these differences because those differences inform how we see the different groups.”

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