DLIS Student Nicki Loder presented “Diversity and Stereotypes: Non-Human Characters in Children’s Literature” at the Annual Conference of the Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association (MAPACA) on November 10, 2018.
From trucks to animals, characters have been represented as non-humans in children’s literature for decades. These characters are often depicted as humanoid and experience daily life as one would expect a human to do. Trucks with eyes and mouths attend school and are assigned homework, dogs walk upright and take dance lessons, and even crayons get the chance to travel the world. They act and think like us but they don’t look like us. This could also be said for marginalized populations, whether it be race,
gender, sexual orientation, or impairment.
In recent years diversity in media has been on the rise. Nevertheless, in 2018 a majority of published books in the United States only represent Cis, white, enabled bodies. It is more likely to find a white child or a non-human as a character in a children’s book than an African-American, Asian Pacific- American, Latinx, or even Native Americans. This presentation will examine the intersection of diversity with non-human characters with specific reference to children’s literature and how those characters create diversity or reinforce stereotypes.