Tuesday, June 27, 2006

In March of this year, I submitted an article for publication, in which I said that most books about American Indians are set in the past, not present. The reviewer questioned my statement, suggesting that there has been a lot of change in recent decades, and that my statement was outdated.

To see if my perception was accurate, I went to the Children's Literature Comprehensive Database, which includes over 1,200,000 records and over 220,000 reviews from 34 different sources such as KIRKUS, HORN BOOK GUIDE, and Booklist. I searched the database, using the terms "American Indians" and "Native Americans" and I limited the search to works of fiction published in 2000. My search returned 42 titles; seven are set in the present day; the remaining 36 are historical fiction.

I don't know what the data looks like for fiction overall. Generally speaking, are more works of historical fiction published than works of realistic or modern fiction? Is it at this same ratio (7:36)? What about works of fiction about other US minorities? If I did the search using African Americans as my search term, what would I find?

If readers of the blog know of articles that include these statistics, please let us know.

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