What’s going on in multicultural lit? This month, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) at the University of Wisconsin is opening a discussion by posting its latest data on diverse literature – and by reading two novels involving Native American culture: How I Became a Ghost (Tingle) and If I Ever Get Out of Here (Gansworth).
To whet your appetite, here are their latest statistics:
“We received approximately 3,200 books at the CCBC in 2013. Of those,
.*93*books had significant African or African American content
.*67*books were by Black authors and/or illustrators
.*33 *books had American Indian themes, topics, or characters
.*18*books were by American Indian authors and/or illustrators
.*58 *books had significant Asian/Pacific or Asian/Pacific American content
.*85*books were by authors and/or illustrators of Asian/Pacific heritage
.*57 *books had significant Latino content
.*48 *books were by Latino authors and/or illustrators”
It’s always fascinating to hear librarians talk about the challenges of building a collection that reflects our country. Are we doing enough to find and develop new voices? Are the indie publishers doing a better job than the big houses in this area? Are we still stuck – whether consciously or not – in the mindset that certain cultural groups don’t read?
One comment in the thread gave me long pause. Is the Pura Belpré a “marginalized” prize? To me, it’s the biggest honor in the world, but just take a look at how Amazon listed the children’s book winners the day after the Youth Media Awards were announced.
Hmmm…what’s missing on this enticing spread? Oh yeah, the Coretta Scott King Award and the Pura Belpré (and the Stonewall and….oh, don’t get me started.) Interesting omission, considering that Latinos, at least, are projected to make up a third of our country’s population by 2050.
Clearly, there is a lot of work to do and there are a lot of hard questions to ask, starting with SERIOUSLY?
You can get digest versions of the CCBC discussion or join in by going here. I’ll be posting soon enough, but for now, I’m enjoying eavesdropping on the conversation and thinking about what it will mean as I travel this year to meet readers, teachers, librarians, and families all over the place.
Meanwhile, just to make myself feel better, I’m going to sit back and watch my favorite Super Bowl moment (well, a close tie to Bruno Mars, anyway). Here’s Coke’s commercial that celebrated our nation’s diversity. If only it were all so seamless and beautiful…