Monday, May 02, 2016

Goodreads "Top 100 Children's Books"

On April 27, 2016, Jessica Donaghy posted The Top 100 Children's Books on Goodreads. To determine which chapter and middle grade books should be "on every kid's shelves" they "looked for the best reviewed books, all with average ratings above a 4.0 (a high bar that cuts out giants like Ramona and Huck Finn)." 

Stereotypical representations: thumbs down
Of course, such lists get circulated on social media.

The Children's Book Council tweeted it, and then John Schu tweeted it, which is how I saw it.

Looking it over, I gotta give it a thumbs down for the Native representations on it. Come on, people! How about, when you look at these kinds of lists, you ask yourself about Native representations on it. We all have to speak up for change to happen!

I'm thrilled to see several authors of color on the list. I see Jackie Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming. And Kwame Alexander's Crossover, too. And Pam Munoz Ryan's Echo. And several titles by Sharon Draper. And Grace Lin's Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. 

But what about Native writers? None. Louise Erdrich's Birchbark House ought to be on here, don't you think? Nothing on it by the most prolific Native writer either! I mean Joseph Bruchac.

What about Native characters or stories that aren't stereotypical? Again, none. Here's the list of titles. The ones in bold are ones that have stereotypical Native characters. Those two? The grunting and animal-like Indians in Little House on the Prairie and the stereotypical Tiger Lily and playing-Indians of Peter Pan

What did and did not got onto this list reflects two things: a visibility problem, and, a refusal to let go of books with stereotypical content. What will you do about that? Who else is missing, I wonder?

Aesop's Fables
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
Amulet, by Kazu Kibuishi
Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
The Arabian Nights
Avatar: The Last Airbender, by Gene Luen Yang
Awkward, by Svetlana Chmakova
A Bear Called Paddington, by Michael Bond
The Black Stallion, by Walter Farley
Bone, by Jeff Smith
Book of Three, by Lloyd Alexander
The Borrowers, by Mary Norton
The Boxcar Children (#1), by Gertrude Chandler Warren
Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson
Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson
Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Road Dahl
Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White
Coraline, by Neil Gaiman
Crossover, by Kwame Alexander
Dealing with Dragons, by Patricia C. Wrede
The Devil's Arithmetic, by Jane Yolen
The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank
Drama, by Raina Telgemeier
Echo, by Pam Munoz Ryan
El Deafo, by Cece Bell
Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull
The False Prince, by Jennifer A. Nielsen
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E. L. Konigsburg
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
Gracefully Grayson, by Ami Polonsky
The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman
Grimm's Fairy Tales
A Handful of Stars, by Cynthia Lord
Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales
Haroun and the Sea of Stories, by Salman Rushdie
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J.K. Rowling
The Hobbit, by J. R. Tolkien
Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones
The Incredible Journey, by Sheila Burnford
Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanhha Lai
Into the Wild (Warriors), by Erin Hunter
The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling
The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis
The Lions of Little Rock, by Kristin Levine
Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park
Mary Poppins, by P. L. Travers
Matilda, by Roald Dahl
The Mighty Miss Malone, by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo
Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert C. O'Brien
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, by Betty MacDonald
My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George
My Sweet Orange Tree, by Jose Mauro de Vasconcelos
The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart
The Name of this Book is Secret, by Pseudonymous Bosch
The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende
Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry
Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson
The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate
Out of My Mind, by Sharon M. Draper
Peter and the Starcatchers, by Dave Barry
Peter Pan, by J. M. Barre
The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster
Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren
Princess Academy, by Shannon Hale
The Red Pyramid, by Rick Riordan
The Red Umbrella, by Christina Diaz Gonzales
Redwall, by Brian Jacques
Ranger's Apprentice, by John Flanagan
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, by Eleanor Coerr
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, by Alvin Schwartz
The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
See You at Harry's, by Jo Knowles
Sideways Stories from Wayside School, by Louis Sachar
The Skin I'm In, by Sharon G. Flake
Smile, by Raina Telgemeier
So Be It, by Sarah Weeks
Stella by Starlight, by Sharon M. Draper
The Story of a Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her to Fly, by Luis Sepulveda
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, by Judy Blume
The Two Princesses of Bamarre, by Gail Carson Levine
Watership Down, by Richard Adams
The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin
When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin
Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls
Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein
Winnie the Pooh, by A. A. Milne
The Land of Stories and the Wishing Spell, by Chris Colfer
Wolf Brother, by Michelle Paver
Wonder, by R. J. Palacio
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle


Unknown said...

That's a weird list. Why does Lloyd Alexander get a place when all the other entries are titles, not authors? (Not the point, I know, but it bugs me, because I'm a little compulsive about things like that.) It seems almost randomly compiled--all fiction except for Anne Frank? There's a lot here that I think is over-rated, to be honest. Let me go away and put my thoughts together before I say anything more...


Debbie Reese said...

Yes, it is a weird list.

I didn't realize my error in listing Alexander rather than his name. I've gone back and added authors.

Back in 2015, Jade (don't know who the people are, who do these lists) put up the Top 100 YA books. I didn't see it then. Here's the link.

Some quick notes...

Books on both lists:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
The Diary of a Young Girl
The Giver, Little Women
The Lightning Thief
A Wrinkle in Time
Anne of Green Gables
Howl's Moving Castle

Beverly Slapin said...

Yes, it's a weird list. One of the titles, THE BOXCAR CHILDREN, is actually a series. and in one in the series, THE BOXCAR CHILDREN: THE MYSTERY OF THE LOST VILLAGE, "The Boxcar children learn lots of interesting things about the Navajos." It's believed that there's a "lost village" in a forest right outside the Navajo reservation, so the kids, with the permission of their Navajo hosts, go out, dig up artifacts, solve the mystery, go to the powwow, and save the forest from real estate speculators. There are peace pipes, joking about owls, a reservation stable, and, among other things, Jessie learns how to make an authentic Navajo buckskin dress in half an hour. Oh, and: The creator of the series, Gertrude Chandler Warner, died in 1979, yet the books are still being written. (See A BROKEN FLUTE, page 212, for review.)

Polly said...

The lists are just statistics--goodreads runs a report on certain parameters (in this case, something like children's chapter books with a four or five star rating), and publishes the ones that the most people have read. They shouldn't be claiming they're the best, it's just the ones a lot of people have read and rated highly, it isn't curated in any real sense. That's why it reads like a good old white boys list, because so many more people have read those books, although perhaps they shouldn't!

Anonymous said...

Actually the first book in the Boxcar Children series is titled, The Boxcar Children, so they could be referring to the first book only.

Beverly Slapin said...

Hi, Anonymous. THE BOX-CAR CHILDREN (#1) was published in 1924 and reissued in 1942. There are over 100 books in the series, so it's hard to know which of THE BOXCAR CHILDREN books this list refers to, or if it's the whole series. In any event, the author died in 1979, and the books are still being written (probably in-house) and published, all featuring the byline, "created by Gertrude Chandler Warner."

I commented about one specific book, but on further research, found that, in 2007, the NEA rated the first book one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children," and, in 2012, School Library Journal ranked it as one of the "Top 100 Chapter Books." Both rankings were based on polls. So the Goodreads list of "Top 100 Children's Books" is probably based on these lists.

Polly, you're right. This list doesn't seem to have been curated. So much for depending on lists for developing library collections.

Thanks, Debbie, for bringing this to our attention.

Debbie Reese said...

The Goodreads page indicates it is the first Boxcar Children book, marked as #1. I inserted that info in the list.

I've written, too, about one of those Boxcar stories... What was it? Lost Village?! Silly, whatever it was.

I don't know if anyone uses the Goodreads list to curate books, but I always take a look at lists like that... because what gets read and reviewed matters. Keeping track of that is important. And calling it out: crucial.