One of the most exciting trends in children’s literature in has been the increasing emergence of more diverse characters and themes. It would seem that the advent of self-publishing has opened the door for authors with a wide range of backgrounds to share their experiences and interests. In particular, I have encountered more published Jamaican authors now than when I first started teaching. These authors are producing books for Jamaican children both at home and in the diaspora. Books that help our children to identify with their culture and heritage, and that celebrate their family traditions.
Authors are able, through the books they write, to advocate for an increased variety in cultural representations in children’s literature. Authors occupy the ideal position for promoting an awareness of more universal themes and global concerns among readers. Never before has the stage been more accessible to advocates to create an awareness of and to open the discourse on - values and ethics, environmental concerns, human rights, and historical events. The self-publishing movement has widened the avenue for authors to share their writing on a wide range of engaging topics.
However, with this increased access comes increased responsibility. Are we taking advantage of such freedom to produce children’s literature that is engaging, thought provoking and educational? Are we making the effort to create characters with whom children can relate and can challenge them to be the best version of themselves? Are we in turn teaching children that they too can be advocates for positive change in the world?