About the Numbers
Latinx/Hispanic/Latin American characters are portrayed in books about cultural specificity (Beautiful Life) at a significantly higher rate than any other racial/cultural group.
This means that when a child picks up a book featuring a Latinx character, they are more likely than not to find a story of a character engaged in a specific cultural practice. During an intensified historical moment in which “Latino/Hispanic” has come to stand in as a direct identifier for “immigrant” and often triggers questions about citizenship status, these stories may work to either counter or reinforce stereotypes. That is, Beautiful Life books have the potential to showcase the rich global diversity and complexity of Latinx/Hispanic/Latin American people, or endorse harmful ideas of Latinx people as “aliens” and “strangers within.”
We argue that while a focus on culture is important, a more balanced portrayal of Latinx/Latin American/Hispanic characters across categories is necessary to upend the assumptions that too often contain the real diversity of Latinx/Latin American/Hispanic people and experiences in one-dimensional representations.
We invite you to consider the other meanings and effects these numbers may reveal.
Of the 341 books featuring Latinx/Hispanic/Latin American characters:
|16% do not make race, ethnicity, or culture part of the plot. We call these Any Child Books.|
|58% 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.|
|13% are biographies.|
|9% portray character interactions across racial or cultural difference. We call these Cross-Group books.|
|8% 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.|
|1% 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.|
|3% are stories of prejudice, mistreatment and discrimination based on race, ethnicity or culture. We call these Oppression books.|
|6% invite readers to consider new perspectives related to racial, ethnic, or cultural commonalities and differences. We call these Concept books.|