See What We See is a coalition of writers, scholars, educators, librarians, and activists who believe that books reflect what is valued in society and can therefore shape people’s attitudes and actions towards one another. All the people in “We the People” deserve to see their particular reality reflected in children’s literature, and yet the publishing industry primarily produces books that portray a white America. Stories about people of color too often are written by outsiders whose power and privilege are reflected on the page, whereas marginalized members of our society are given few opportunities to tell their own stories in their own way.
At See What We See we take our inspiration from the Council on Interracial Books for Children (CIBC), a groundbreaking advocacy group. Founded in 1965 at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, the CIBC fought to reduce the many barriers that prevented people of color from participating in the children’s publishing industry. We agree with CIBC President Beryle Banfield’s 1998 assertion that “the sense of social concern and social responsibility that existed at the time that the CIBC was established” has since diminished considerably.
See What We See aims to continue the work of the CIBC. Our investment in social justice—and not only diversity—requires that we vigorously defend the social justice, treaty, and civil rights gains of the latter half of the twentieth century by working towards a body of children’s literature that includes the histories and lives of all people who live in the United States, especially as told by writers of color.
See What We See has three primary objectives:
- To promote engaging books for young readers that accurately reflect the many cultures, distinct traditions, and varied realities of Indigenous and people of color in historical and contemporary contexts.
- To expose and track inequity in children’s publishing.
- To provide substantive, critical reviews of children’s and young adult books in order to create awareness of the omissions, myths, stereotypes, and distortions that misrepresent Indigenous and people of color.
The SWWS database links to reviews on many sites (some of which are SWWS collaborators), such as American Indians in Children’s Literature, Edith Campbell’s Crazy Quilts, Zetta Elliott, Reading While White, DeColores: The Raza Experience in Books for Children, Latinxs in KidLit, Disability in KidLit, Africa Access, Rethinking Schools, Booktoss, CCBC, and Teaching for Change.
We seek to engage in constructive dialogue with publishers, editors, writers, illustrators, book reviewers, educators, librarians, families, and community activists. We intend the content of this site to be rigorous yet readable and accessible to all.
We hope especially to reach caregivers, teachers, and professors of pre-service education students because they introduce children to the books that will shape their perception of the world.
To learn more about See What We See, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.