About the Numbers
Characters of Asian descent are most often depicted in stories focused on Asian cultures (Beautiful Life) or in traditional tales (Folklore).
Cultural stories and folktales can provide excellent mirrors* in which Asian children may see themselves reflected, or windows* into Asian cultures for children from other backgrounds. However, an overemphasis on these kinds of stories may also suggest that Asian people are “foreign” or "other," or that Asian cultures existed only long ago and far away.
We argue for balanced portrayals that show the full diversity and humanity of Asian people and cultures, historically and in our modern world.
We invite you to consider the other meanings and effects these numbers may reveal.
*The commonly-used metaphor of “windows and mirrors” was originally articulated by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop.
Of the 474 books featuring Asian/Pacific Islander/Asian American characters:
|15% do not make race, ethnicity, or culture part of the plot. We call these Any Child Books.|
|47% take readers into the everyday world of characters in countries around the world, with specific cultural components such as language, food, celebrations, traditions, and/or other elements. We call these Beautiful Life books.|
|10% are biographies.|
|16% portray character interactions across racial or cultural difference. We call these Cross-Group books.|
|21% introduce readers to traditions, activities, languages and experiences, and includes all types of retellings and adaptations of traditional folktales. We call these Folklore books.|
|2% have a white protagonist. We call these Incidental books.|
|6% are nonfiction books that may not have a story line and do not always have to do with difference. These books are factual and may be encyclopedic. We call these Informational books.|
|4% are stories of prejudice, mistreatment and discrimination based on race, ethnicity or culture. We call these Oppression books.|
|5% invite readers to consider new perspectives related to racial, ethnic, or cultural commonalities and differences. We call these Concept books.|