Saturday, July 08, 2006

All-Time Best Selling Paperbacks

In December of 2001, Publisher's Weekly published a list of all-time best selling paperbacks. The list, compiled by Debbie Turvey, lists 376 books that had (by 2000) sold over a million copies. The list was created based on information provided by publishers, and represents actual sales (domestic sales only; does not include book clubs and international sales).

On one hand, it is great that there are a lot of children's books that have sold over one million copies. On the other hand, a close look at those books---with American Indians in mind---is troublesome.

Here, I list some books from that list that I have studied over the years that include problematic representations of American Indians, in text or illustration. None of the books on my recommended list are on the all-time best selling list, and, to the best of my knowledge, none of the books on the list are by American Indians. (Note: Hal Borland's When the Legends Die is on the list, but as noted in an earlier post, I haven't read it. )

#10 The Indian in the Cupboard, by Lynne Reid Banks.
Copies sold: 6,394,587

#12 Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Copies sold: 6,172,525

#95 The Return of the Indian, by Lynne Reid Banks.
Copies sold: 2,357,061

#101 The Sign of the Beaver, by Elizabeth George Speare.
Copies sold: 2,259,190

#128 The Secret of the Indian, by Lynn Reid Banks.
Copies sold: 2,059,126

#140 The Berenstain Bears go to Camp, by Stan and Jan Berenstain.
(Grizzly Bob tells stories around a fire, dressed in stereotypical buckskin and feathers.)
Copies sold: 1,945,447

# 245 Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink.
Copies sold: 1,442,225

#273 The Mystery of the Cupboard, by Lynn Reid Banks.
Copies sold: 1,369,456

A chilling thought: 23,999,617 readers (children, presumably) have read about savage, primitive, heroic, stealthy, lazy, tragic, chiefs, braves, squaws, and papooses.

If you'd like to see the list, go to

1 comment:

fusenumber8 said...

I've always wondered about how "Caddie Woodlawn" is viewed in terms of its portrayal of American Indians. What's your take on that particular book?