Absent Characters

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People of color have been largely excluded from children’s literature. Of the 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, only 93 featured black characters. In his essay, “The Apartheid of Children’s Literature,” Christopher Myers speaks out against the trend of allowing members of certain racial groups to go unseen because of the color of their skin.

As Myers writes, when we recognize ourselves in works of literature we learn that our stories are “worthy of being told, thought about, discussed and even celebrated.” By excluding people of color from children’s literature, we cast groups of people outside the boundaries of imagination.” As a result of this exclusivity, we forfeit the opportunity to send all children a message that they too should be able to “traverse the lands of adventure, curiosity, imagination, or personal growth.”


Serena Candelaria is a Rumpus intern, and a self-proclaimed fiction addict. This summer, she worked at 29th Street Publishing and began writing a novella. She is currently a senior at Yale, where she studies Literature. More from this author →