About the Numbers
More than half of the books featuring Latinx/Hispanic/Latin American characters are books that center race or culture, depending on these elements to drive the storyline (Beautiful Life).
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 386 books featuring Latinx/Hispanic/Latin American characters:
|21% are books in which race, ethnicity, tribal affiliation, culture, im/migration, and/or religious, sacred, or origin stories ARE NOT CENTRAL to the story. These elements may be present, but they are not essential to the plot and could be changed without altering the storyline. We call these Any Child Books.|
|52% are books in which race, ethnicity, tribal affiliation, culture, im/migration, and/or religious, sacred, or origin stories ARE CENTRAL to the story. These books explicitly focus on the diverse expressions of human experience, depending on these elements to drive the storyline. We call these Beautiful Life books.|
|15% are Biographies, featuring the life of a particular person or group of people from a historical or contemporary perspective.|
|11% portray relationships between named characters across racial or cultural difference. We call these Cross-Group books.|
|8% are Folklore books, featuring tales, proverbs, songs, or legends and myths that transmit the values, knowledge, traditions, practices and rituals of a people.|
|1% feature a racially diverse cast of non-primary characters or a white or animal main character(s). We call these Incidental books.|
|3% present factual information (with or without a storyline) that does not always have to do with difference. These books may be encyclopedic. We call these Informational books.|
|5% are about group-based injustice and/or struggles for justice. We call these Oppression & Resilience books.|
|6% explore and/or compare specific aspects of human difference, inviting readers to consider varying perspectives related to race, ethnicity, culture, or tribal affiliation. We call these Concept books.|