An absolute must read is The Elephant in the Room by Elizabeth Bluemle not only does it talk about the need for more diversity in books, it lists ways that we can all fix the problem (readers, editors, publishers, etc.) It also includes links to resources on the Internet (Color Online got a shout out, yay!) Below is an excerpt from the article
The truth: we in the book trade have fallen shamefully behind our own culture, and our own times. We can remedy that with open dialogue, new paradigms, and concerted effort. And—we have to remedy it. When adults shout racial epithets at our country’s elected leaders, when bullied children are hanging themselves out of despair and shame, when children’s faces in art murals on the sides of schools are criticized for being “too dark,” when racism is still alive and vicious in this country, we can’t politely avert our eyes.
It is our responsibility—as people who create, produce, and distribute the lion’s share of books that reach and teach and entertain children—it is our highest calling to provide written, illustrated worlds that embrace and prioritize all children, books that resemble the playgrounds and classrooms and homes of this country and the rest of the world. And in order to do that, we must open the gates of our publishing houses to a greater variety of voices and cast aside outdated assumptions of what people will or won’t want to read, will or won’t want to edit or publish or sell.
Neesha Meminger had a thoughtful response (or continuation) to the Elephant article in More on Race
This is the same discussion feminists were having years ago when men ran and owned all publishing houses, and women's writing was not taken seriously. It was too "emotional", it was too "flowery", women didn't write about "serious" things, and women weren't getting published. Men were viewing women's writing through a very male lens and never had to bend or shift their perspective. It was out of this that feminist presses and women's presses began sprouting and taking root. They showed that women could write and there was a market for that work and that it sold. Eventually, these small presses began dying out because the larger publishers began publishing more work by women. AND because there were now spaces for women to write, to nurture and cultivate their careers, there were grants and financial support for women who wanted to take writing seriously. In other words, there were larger, societal changes *in addition to* well-meaning editors. AND, here's the key, there were more women editors.
The children's/teen publishing biz has a whole LOT of women editors now. And two of them are women of colour. Ha, just kidding. It might be five. But the same needs to happen now. This is a subjective business. Editors and booksellers can like whatever they like. Let's just get more - including those who understand and value different aesthetics and traditions, and those who aren't necessarily looking for a polished, refined, brown version of Twilight or Harry Potter or Gossip Girl. Let's think outside of the publishing box we've all been shoved into. Let's get representation of ALL children and their histories/stories. Even if it means taking a little more time to nurture a new writer or new voice, or reading everything you can in a particular genre by authors from different backgrounds and literary traditions
There's a very interesting discussion going on at Hunger Mountain (the online magazine for the Vermont College of Fine Arts). Tanita Davis and Mitali Perkins offer two different perspectives on having POC faces on cover. Read both articles, Reflected Faces (Tanita) and Teens Do Judge A Book by the Cover (Mitali)