Every year since 2002, The Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) has done an audit on diversity. And good news– for the third year running, the numbers of books written by and about diverse groups is on the uptrend. The CCBC tracks both books written by Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) creators and about characters with diverse backgrounds. Last year, the research library received 4,034 book submissions for children and youth; more than they had ever received before.
- Since the early 2000s, books written by BIPOC have been increasing
- Since 2014/15, books featuring diverse characters are increasing (books counted must have a lead or significantly featured character that plays a significant role in the story)
- More books are being written about characters with multiracial/multiethnic backgrounds
- The most significant increase is in books written by “Asian Pacifics/Asian Pacific Americans”
- Diverse characters are more liked to be “African/African Americans”
- Though numbers are going up only 23.2% of creators are BIPOC, and only 28.3% featured a non-white character in a meaningful way
- Small, independently owned publishers (Lee & Low, Just Us Books, and Groundwood) contribute significantly to the body of authentic multicultural literature
- Initiatives such as We Need Diverse Books have had an incredible impact as the voices of authors, illustrators and critics of color
- If a book is written or illustrated by more than one BIPOC, both people are counted in these numbers
- The CCBC only started tracking books by ‘Pacific Islanders’ in 2019
- In future years, the CCBC will begin adding statistics to their reports on (dis)ability, religion, LGBTQ+ and gender
If You Take One Thing From This Article:
Meaningful, authentic storytelling enriches everyone it touches. For those of us privileged enough to see ourselves in most of the stories we read growing up, it can be easy to dismiss how critical diverse representation is for kids and young adults. And while we’re finally seeing improvements in diversity in literature, the numbers are still painfully low (in 2019, just over a quarter). As the CCBC says explicitly, “There is still a long way to go before publishing for children and teens reflects the rich diversity of perspectives and experiences within and across race and culture.”
You can make a difference by seeking out, purchasing and sharing books by people BIPOC. While the numbers matter, so does each individual book that is counted here. It only takes one book to change someone’s life forever. Let’s work on making sure that it’s written and available for whoever needs it.
Data on books by and about people of color and from First/Native Nations published for children and teens compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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