Thursday, January 08, 2015

Time Magazine's Almost All White 100 Best Children's Books of All Time

This morning, I posted a quick analysis of Time magazine's 100 Best Young Adult Books of All Time. This is my quick analysis of the children's books they chose. Here's what Time says about how they compiled the list:

To honor the best books for young adults and children, TIME compiled this survey in consultation with respected peers such as U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate Ken Nesbitt, children’s-book historian Leonard Marcus, the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, the Young Readers Center at the Library of Congress, the Every Child a Reader literacy foundation and 10 independent booksellers. 

There are no Native authors on the list. There are eight authors of color:

  • Mitsumasa Anno
  • Sharon Draper
  • Taro Gomi
  • Walter Dean Myers
  • Kadir Nelson
  • Allen Say
  • Divya Srinivasan
  • Ed Young

With only eight authors of color on the list, I'll echo what I said earlier today in my analysis of the young adult books. It is fair to say that Time Magazine has put together an Almost All White list. People who study children's books know that my "all white" refers to Nancy Larrick's article from the 1960s, in which she noted that the books in her library were almost all white. Over 50 years ago, she made that observation. We're still there, aren't we? Dismal. Depressing.

In only one of the books (to my knowledge), Allan Say's Grandfather's Journey has an accurate depiction of a Native person.

Within the pages of the books on this list, you'll see problematic depictions of Native people in these books (and possibly others):

  • The Berenstain Bears series includes one where Brother Bear and Sister Bear go to a summer camp where Grizzly Bob tells stories dressed up in stereotypical Indian attire.
  • Cooney's Miss Rumphius shows cigar store Indians
  • Holling's Paddle to the Sea has a toy wooden Indian

Next time you weed books in your library, consider replacing some of those books (above) with some excellent books by/about Native people. This page of Best Books includes ones that I recommend, and ones that have won the American Indian Library Association's book awards.

For your convenience, here's Time's list:

Allard, Harry. Miss Nelson is Missing
Allsburg, Chris Van. The Garden of Abdul Gasazi
Anno, Mitsumasa. Anno's Journey
Atwater, Richard and Florence. Mr. Popper's Penguins
Averill, Esther. Jenny and the Cat Club
Barnett, Mac. Extra Yarn
Base, Graeme. Animalia
Becker, Aaron. Journey
Bemelmans, Ludwig. Madeline (series)
Berenstain, Stan and Jan. The Berenstain Bears (series)
Bond, Michael. A Bear Called Paddington
Brown, Margaret Wise. The Color Kittens
Brown, Margaret Wise. Goodnight Moon
Brown, Margaret Wise. The Important Book
Brown, Margaret Wise. The Runaway Bunny
Bradfield, Roger. Hello, Rock
Brown, Marc. Arthur's Nose (series)
Burton, Virginia Lee. Katy and the Big Snow
Burton, Virginia Lee. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Cannon, Janell. Stellaluna
Carle, Eric. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Cooney, Barbara. Miss Rumphius
Cronin, Doreen. Click, Clack, Moo
Day, Alexandra. Good Dog, Carl
Daywalt, Drew. The Day the Crayons Quit
Deacon, Alexis. Slow Loris
de Brunhoff, Jean. The Story of Babar
Donaldson, Julia. The Gruffalo
Draper, Sharon M. Out of My Mind
Eastman, P. D. Go Dog, Go
Falconer, Ian. Olivia
Freeman, Don. Corduroy
French, Jackie. Diary of a Wombat
Gag, Wanda. Millions of Cats
Gannett, Ruth Stiles. My Father's Dragon
Geisel, Theodore. The Cat in the Hat
Geisel, Theodore. Green Eggs and Ham
Geisel, Theodore. The Lorax
Geisel, Theodore. Oh, the Places You'll Go!
Geisel, Theodore. Yertle the Turtle
Gomi, Taro. Everyone Poops
Henkes, Kevin. Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse
Hills, Tad. How Rocket Learned to Read
Hoban, Russell. Bread and Jam for Frances
Holling, Holling Clancy. Paddle-to-the-Sea
Hurd, Thacher. Mama Don't Allow
Johnson, Crockett. Harold and the Purple Crayon
Joyce, William. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Kalman, Maira. Sayonara, Mrs. Kackleman
Keats, Ezra Jack. The Snowy Day
Keats, Ezra Jack. Whistle for Willie
Klassen, Jon. I Want My Hat Back
Knudsen, Michelle. Library Lion
Lamorisse, Albert. The Red Balloon
Lawson, Robert. The Story of Ferdinand
Lee, Dennis. Alligator Pie
Lindgren, Astrid. Pippi Longstocking
Litwin, Eric. Pete the Cat (series)
Lobel, Arnold. Frog and Toad (series)
Lowrey, Janette Sebring. The Poky Little Puppy
Martin, Jr. Bill. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom 
McCloskey, Robert. Blueberries for Sal
McCloskey, Robert. Make Way for Ducklings
Milne, A. A. Winnie the Pooh
Minarik, Else Holmelund. Little Bear
Mosel, Arlene. Tikki Tikki Tembo
Munsch, Robert. Love You Forever
Muth, Jon J. The Three Questions
Myers, Walter Dean. Jazz
Nelson, Kadir. We Are the Ship
Numeroff, Laura Joffe. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
Oxenbury, Helen and Rosen, Michael. We're Going on a Bear Hunt
Parish, Peggy. Amelia Bedelia
Piper, Watty. The Little Engine That Could
Potter, Beatrix. The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Prelutsky, Jack. The New Kid on the Block
Say, Allen. Grandfather's Journey
Scarry, Richard. Cars and Trucks and Things That Go
Scheer, Julian. Rain Makes Applesauce
Scieszka, Jon. The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales
Scieszka, Jon. The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs
Sendak, Maurice. In the Night Kitchen
Sendak, Maurice.  Where the Wild Things Are
Silverstein, Shel. The Giving Tree
Silverstein, Shel. Where the Sidewalk Ends
Srinivasan, Divya. Little Owl's Night
Stead, Philip C. A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Steig, William. Brave Irene
Steig, William. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
Thompson, Kay. Eloise
Tullet, Herve. Press Here
Van Allsburg, Chris. The Stranger
Viorst, Judith. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Wiesner, David. Tuesday
Willems, Mo. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
Willems, Mo. Elephant and Piggie (series)
Wright, Blanche Fisher. The Real Mother Goose
Yolen, Jane. Owl Moon
Young, Ed. Lon Po Po
Zion, Gene. Harry the Dirty Dog


Mary Catherine Miller said...

Thank you for compiling this-- I find Time's list so similar to NPR's 2012 "Top 100 YA Books" that received similar criticism. It's unfortunate that not much has changed two years later.

Karen said...

The only word of encouragement I can offer is that as a Youth Services Librarian, I can name so many books and authors that the list misses, and at least MY list is more complete. Unfortunately, this type of list affects the home libraries and thus the publishing industry - it's as though there is a closed loop between the "Best" list-makers (marketers)and the publishers...

Debbie Reese said...

Hi Karen,

Yes--there are a good many (not enough) librarians who are doing a great job selecting books for their patrons, and yes--this sort of list works against diversity. Language used to describe the list includes appeals to nostalgia ('remember your childhood') that also works against diversity.

Anonymous said...

We need to stop giving our power over to judges/reviewers/colleagues/. Can say after meeting some of them in person that they are not going to change.