For Young Latino Readers, an Image Is Missing

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How are children supposed to identify with characters in the books, if they look nothing like them?

Mario 8 years old says “I see a lot of people that don’t have a lot of color,” when he reads books in school.

According to an analysis of census data by the Pew Hispanic Center Hispanic students now make up nearly a quarter of the nation’s public school enrollment.  Although Hispanics are a growing population Latino children rarely see themselves in the books that they are reading.

Education experts and teachers say “the lack of familiar images could be an obstacle as young readers work to build stamina and deepen their understanding of story elements like character motivation.”

There are series of books by Julia Alvarez, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Alma Flor Ada and Gary Soto, but they are not available in classrooms.

According, to Jane Flemming “Kids do have a different kind of connection when they see a character that looks like them or they experience a plot or a theme that relates to something they’ve experienced in their lives,”

Black, Asian and American Indian children have to search deep in book shelves to find at least one book that they can identify with.  Some teachers suggest that Hispanic children should read books about Hispanic characters or families.

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Picture by CPH Library

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