Profile: Don Tate (1963-)

Don Tate is an American author and illustrator of books for children. He is also an activist promoting racial and cultural inclusiveness in children’s literature. He notes that as a child he had to read the encyclopedia to discover a multicultural world; based on the children’s books of his day he “thought the world was white”.  He co-founded the young African American blog The Brown Bookshelf and helps run the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign to improve diversity of material in children’s books.

Career

Tate began his career as an illustrator with Say Hey: A Song of Willie Mays (Jump at the Sun/Hyperion, 2000), written by Peter Mandel.

In his work, Tate often writes about historical figures who persisted during the period of American slavery. In the New York Times article “‘A Fine Dessert’: Judging a Book by the Smile of a Slave,” Tate was quoted on the topic, saying, “children’s books needed to show a range of experience, including suffering and enduring.” In 2016 television segment of Texas Country Reporter, Tate spoke about his work with stories of enslaved people and preserving these important narratives, stating the importance of telling children the truth and not sugar coating history.

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