|The Hoot: News from the Butler Children’s Literature Center, September 2019
The library is bustling, it’s impossible to find a parking spot on campus, and the smell of freshly sharpened pencils is in the air—it’s fall! My favorite season has arrived with pumpkin spice-flavored everything and I couldn’t be happier to start pulling out my sweaters and adding new titles to my TBR list for the chilly days ahead. But first, an update on all things exciting in the Butler Children’s Literature Center.
What We’ve Been Doing–
Butler Youth Services Scholarship
What’s Up Next–
Ellin Greene Storytelling Tea
Illinois Library Association Annual Conference
Butler Center Book Sale
Fall Open Hours
The Butler Center welcomes teachers, librarians, booksellers, parents, grandparents, caregivers and anyone interested in literature for young people. Fall 2019 open hours are Mondays 10-6, Tuesdays 3-6, Wednesdays 12-6, and Thursdays 9-noon and 1-6. Or contact us at email@example.com to schedule an appointment.
The Center is a non-lending library, but our staff is here to assist you in locating books that address specific themes, age groups, or reading levels.
The Butler Center is located in the Rebecca Crown Library, room 214, on Dominican’s main campus at 7900 W. Division Street in River Forest, Illinois. Directions and a campus map are available here. The Butler Center is administered by Dominican’s School of Information Studies and is generously supported by the Butler Family Foundation. We hope you’ll visit us, or join us for an event, and stay tuned for our news and upcoming events. Please contact me with any questions you have. I look forward to seeing you soon!
Here’s a few titles that we got this week that we are excited to read:
Carmen Sandiego: Endangered Operation published by HMH Books for Young Readers. Comes out October 1st, 2019.
Mario y el agujero en el cielo: Cómo un químico salvó nuestro planeta by Elizabeth Rusch, illustrated by Teresa Martinez, translated by Carlos E. Calvo. Published by Charlesbridge.
Comes out November 5th, 2019.
Whose Footprint is THAT? by Darrin Lunde, illustrated by Kelsey Oseid, published by Charlesbridge.
Comes Out October 22nd, 2019.
Milton & Odie and the Bigger-than-Bigmouth Bass by Mary Ann Fraser, published by Charlesbridge.
Comes out October 1st, 2019.
Dog and Rabbit by Barney Saltzberg, published by Charlesbridge.
Comes out October 8th, 2019.
Baby Loves the Five Senses: Sight! (Baby Loves Science) by Ruth Spiro, illustrated by Irene Chen, published by Charlesbridge.
Comes out September 24th, 2019.
The Oregon Trail: Gold Rush! Choose Your Own Trail by Jesse Wiley, published by HMH Books for Young Readers. September 2019.
Beware! by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Larry Day, published by Charlesbridge.
Comes out October 8th, 2019.
If Elephants Disappeared by Lily Williams, published by Roaring Brook Press.
Out now, September 2019.
Alice and Greta: A Tale of Two Witches by Steven J. Simmons, illustrated by Cyd Moore, published by Charlesbridge.
Out as of August 2019.
Join storytellers Janice Del Negro, Marie Ringenberg, and Janet Thompson for tea and tales in celebration of the contributions of Dr. Ellin Greene.
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by October 6, 2019.
Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks
First Second Books, August 27, 2019
It’s the last night of their final pumpkin patch season before Deja and Josiah head off to college. As the weather turns, Deja cajoles her employee-of-the-month pal to leave the confines of the Succotash Hut and give their beloved pumpkin patch an epic sendoff. Author Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park) teams up with author/writer Faith Erin Hicks (Comics Will Break Your Heart) to deliver a madcap adventure of two friends navigating their ways through love, friendship, and corn mazes.
Graphic novel Pumpkinheads combines a pithy humor with teenage self-reflection. The quirky pop culture references (there is a John Denver cover band called John Colorado Springs) are delightful, but more delightful is Deja, a pumpkin patch heartbreaker whose love of snacks is only surpassed by her affection for her friend Josiah. Josiah plays the rule-abider to Deja’s social butterfly and the two complement each other well. However, Rowell and Hicks do not let their characters stay stuck in their ways. When the pair’s discussion turns to fate, Josiah says his leave-it-up-to-fate attitude is a perfect match for Deja’s go-getter nature. Deja is quick to reply that his passive nature means that she is the one doing the work to makes things happen.
Rowell and Hicks alternate action sequences with emotional revelations. Despite great dialogue, some of the most powerful moments are close-ups of Deja’s face when her emotions shift. Near the end of their evening together, Deja’s face reacting to a plain but heartfelt admission from Josiah is familiar and priceless to any teenager or former teenager.
[[Following the story is a conversation between collaborators Rowell and Hicks, delving into plot ideas, character development, and the artistic design process.]]
Here are some books that we got in this week that we’re really excited about:
Paper World: Planet Earth illustrated by Bomoboland, published by Big Picture Press
Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
The Other Side: Stories of Central American Teen Refuges Who Dream of Crossing the Border by Juan Pablo Villalobos, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
King of the Mole People by Paul Gilligan, published by Henry Holt and Co.
If Animals Celebrated Christmas by Ann Whitford Paul, illustrated by David Walker, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Color Me In by Natasha Diaz, published by Delacorte Press
Best Friends by Shannon Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, published by First Second
Life is Short and Then You Die: Mystery Writers of America Present First Encounters with Murder edited by Kelley Armstrong, published by Macmillan
Stargazing written and illustrated by Jen Wang, published by First Second
Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border by Mitali Perkins, illustrated by Sara Palacios, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Arriverderci Crocodile or See You Later Alligator begun by Fred Marcellino and completed by Eric Puybaret, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Remarkables by Lisa Mantchev, illustrated by David Litchfield, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Inspired by We Need Diverse Books and the University of Wisconsin-Madison info-graphic breaking down the percentage of books depicting diverse characters (specifically race and ethnicity) we here at Butler decided to evaluate our 2018 collection to determine whether or not we had a similar breakdown. Questions that we hope to answer by looking back at our 2018 titles included: Does our collection accurately represent what’s being published? Do we need to do some active curation to give our users a better picture of current publishing trends? Although we realize that we receive much fewer books in one year than either of this two institutions do, we felt that is our responsibility to ensure that our collection was an accurate reflection of what is published in a given year.
Method & Results:
1. Gather all 2018 titles Butler received and put it into an excel doc. Delete any and all duplicate titles within the excel doc. This was done by putting the doc in alphabetical order by author to make it easier to spot any duplicates.
2. We then looked up each book on Kirkus and Amazon to determine the race/ethnicity of the protagonists of each book. Once this was determined, this would be indicated on the excel doc with the following acronyms:
- African/African American (A/AA)
- American Indian/First Nations (AI/FN)
- Asian Pacific Islander/Asian Pacific American (API/APA)
In the case that it was none of the above, we left it blank to represent animals/other.
3. After determining the contents diversity, we then went on to look up the author and illustrator of the title to determine whether or not the title was own voices. If it was own voices, an ‘x’ was put in the excel doc. If the title was not own voices, this would be indicated in the excel doc by writing the race/ethnicity of the author and illustrator next to one of the above acronyms.
4. After all this was done, we found that we had a few anthology titles that included both diverse characters and none diverse characters. Since we could not determine how much of these titles were dedicated to either non diverse or diverse characters we decided to delete these titles from the doc so as not to misrepresent them in our graphic.
5. We then organized the doc in alphabetical order based off our acronyms. From there we counted how many books we had in all of our categories—including those we had left blank that represented books about animals or other inanimate objects. For each category we had the following amount of books:
6. With these numbers in mind, we decided to focus on the 240 books that had diverse content to see how many were own voices.
7. We counted how many ‘x’ indicators we had in our A/AA, AI/FN, API/APA, and Latinx categories to see how many titles we had that were actually own voices.
We found that altogether there were only 119 titles that were on voices.
Once all the data had been gathered we made a graph breaking down all the books by content and a graph that broke down the number of own voices titles by race/ethnicity.
- Notably, we found that although the graph based off content indicated that of the 1420 we had only 0.42% was AI/FN content. The own voices graph, on the other-hand, indicated that of the 240 books we had with diverse characters 2% of own voices content was AI/FN.
- In fact, the percentages for each category doubled between graphs. However, the overall percentage of non-own voices content made up 50% of the second graph while no individual category went above 19%.
- Overall, own voices content only made up 8% of the total number of books that we received in 2018.
Breaking this down further, looking at each A/AA, AI/FN, API/APA, and Latinx individually to see what percentage of the content about them was own voices, we found that although A/AA had the most content its overall percentage of own voices titles was the lowest of all the other categories at 41%. Meanwhile Latinx, which had the second lowest amount of content had the highest percentage of own voice titles at 68%.
The percentages of our content graph are overall lower than those found by We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. However, the one area where we had a higher percentage than WNDB and University of Wisconsin-Madison was in our other/animal category. This may in part be due to the fact that we included self-help and how-to books within this category. Without knowing exactly how WNDB and University Wisconsin-Madison determined what went into this category it is hard to say why this discrepancy exists.
On the whole, our results seemed to match the same pattern as WNDB and the University of Wisconsin with White making up the majority of content, followed by Animal/Other, A/AA, API/APA, Latinx, and AI/FN at the bottom. While the gap between diverse and not diverse content is great, the gap between own voices content and non-own voices content is even greater still.
As more diverse titles are published, it is important that they are predominantly written by people from the community they are writing about. It is not enough to have a diverse cast of characters if they do not act or accurately reflect the community they are meant to represent. At the very least, writers and illustrators should make sure that whatever they are producing does not further advance negative stereotypes of their subjects. People are not always aware of the biases they may hold; it is always a good idea to have a sensitivity reader look over and reevaluate your work so as not to further any biases that may be present.
These findings, as well as the findings by WNDB and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, may be helpful to librarians, educators, and parents when curating their own collections. Knowing that publishers mostly publish content depicting white children or animals, librarians, educators, and parents can take the appropriate steps to ensure that their collections are representative of the diverse communities of people which they serve. It is important that everyone feels heard and represented, and making sure that the books we select accurately reflect these voices is critical to expanding children’s world views and validating their self-worth.
Mark your calendar for the eighth annual Butler Lecture featuring award winning illustrator Bryan Collier.
When: March 4, 2020 6 p.m.
Reception and book signing to follow
Where: Eloise Martin Recital Hall
Dominican University, Fine Arts Building
7900 West Division Street
River Forest, IL 60305
The lecture is free and open to the public with registration required. Registration will open January 2020.
Bryan Collier is a beloved illustrator known for his unique style combining watercolor and detailed collage. He is a four-time Caldecott Honor recipient for Trombone Shorty, Dave the Potter, Martin’s Big Words, and Rosa. His books have won many other awards as well, including six Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards. His recent books include By and By, Thurgood, The Five O’Clock Band, and Between the Lines. He lives in New York with his family.
To find out more about Bryan Collier’s art and illustration, visit him at bryancollier.com