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Latino Life

What’s Going On in Multi Culti Lit: The librarians speak

By February 5, 2014No Comments

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).

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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. 

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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…

Meg Medina

Author Meg Medina

I'm Meg Medina, author of libros for kids of all ages. I'm the 2019 Newbery medalist for Merci Suárez Changes Gears. I write strong girls, tough circumstances, and the connecting power of culture. Thanks for visiting my blog!

More posts by Meg Medina

Join the discussion No Comments

  • lilaqweaver says:

    Reblogged this on lila q weaver and commented:
    Meg Medina, I couldn’t have said it better. Thank you for allowing me to share your blog post.

  • Linda C. says:

    As a Latina who works in children’s publishing, it aggravates me to no end to see when such awards are excluded from lists like Amazon’s. I just don’t understand it.

    • Meg Medina says:

      I agree, Linda. I found these types of omissions in newspaper articles etc where awards are put on a sidebar or require lots of extra “clicking” to find them. So, the question for me is, what can I do personally to change it. Step one: point it out. Hope we will see each other soon.

      • Linda C. says:

        Hope to see you, too! Maybe at La Casa Azul at some point, if you’re not visiting another NYC bookstore soon?

  • Edi says:

    I shared the CBCs latest stats on FB and Twitter and was stunned by the lack of response. The numbers are indicating no growing in the numbers of books published by authors of color since the mid 80s, yet these populations have continued to grow! Yes, there is much to do!

    There are real reasons why the CSK and PB awards aren’t on the ALA’s award page But you would think when releases go out to the press that these awards (which are associated with the ALA) could be included!

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