Friday, October 24, 2008

Books by and about American Indians: 2007

According to the Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) at the University of Wisconsin...

In 2007, approximately 5000 children's books were published. CCBC received approximately 3000 books for review. Here are stats:

Forty-four of the 3000 books they received were about American Indians. Of those 44, 6 were written by Native authors. Looking at stats they compile by year:

Year---Number of bks---About Amer Ind---By Native writer

If you go here you can see stats I laid out above, and stats for other groups, too: African/African Americans, Asian Pacific/Asian Pacific Americans, and Latinos.

One of the publications you can get from CCBC is CCBC Choices. You get it by becoming a Friend of the CCBC. In the 2007 essay (included in the 2007 CCBC Choices) is this:

These statistics represent only quantity, not quality or authenticity. Additionally, a significant number—well over half—of the books about each broad racial/ethnic grouping are formulaic books offering profiles of various countries around the world.

The statistics, of course, tell only one part of the story. Throughout the year, it wasn’t the numbers but individual books that made a profound impact on us— compelling, vivid works that represent some of the finest creative output of authors and artists in 2007: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie...

As readers of this blog know, I've written about Alexie's book several times. It's a huge hit and is being used in literature classes across the country, from high schools to universities.


Anonymous said...

These figures from CCBC are certainly food for thought. Thanks for supplying the stats and the links.

I did some quick percentages. If I'm understanding correctly what's going on here: for 2007, of 150 books ABOUT African-Americans, approx. 51.3% were BY African-Americans. Of 68 books ABOUT Asian Americans, approx. 82% were BY Asian Americans. Of 59 books ABOUT Latinos, approx. 71% were BY Latinos. And of 44 books ABOUT Native Americans, about 13% were BY Native Americans -- the lowest BY::ABOUT ratio.
We know there are good Native writers out there; what would stop publishers from inviting them to write?
I seriously would like to know the answer to that.

Carol @ talkatalkabooks said...

As part of a library program to encourage recreational reading I purchase multiple copies of paperback books for middle school students. Finding good books by Native writers is a real challenge for us because we only use paperback editions - and some wonderful titles are only in hardcover editions. We buy sometimes twelve, sometimes fifty, sometimes over a hundred copies of any one title and often our favorites - even by authors like Joseph Bruchac - are not available from our supplier in the quantities we desire. We endeavor to have books in our collection that reflect the community, but more than not that is a frustrating challenge.