CCBC’s Diversity Statistics show small changes in number of diverse books for children and teens published last year


By Kari Dickinson

The Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) has updated its annual Diversity Statistics to include data on the 3,491 books for children and teens received by the CCBC that were published in 2023.* 

The CCBC has been documenting books for children and teens it receives annually by and about Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) since 1994. Between 1985 and 1993, the CCBC documented books by and about Black people only.

In 2018, the CCBC began to document additional aspects of identity in its analysis, including disability, LGBTQ+, and religion.

Following a long period of relative stagnancy, around 2015 the number of children’s books the CCBC received by BIPOC creators and about BIPOC characters began to increase. By 2020 — only five years later — the number of books the CCBC received that were by or about a person of color had tripled. 

While the statistics in 2022 showed a continuation of this rising trend, 2023 showed little change. “We are glad things are not decreasing,” says CCBC Director Tessa Michaelson Schmidt. “However, it’s disappointing there hasn’t been more movement in an upward direction.” 

The CCBC did note a modest increase in the share of books including significant BIPOC content in 2023 — meaning they have a primary or significant secondary character or human subject who is BIPOC, or the setting or topic of the book relates to BIPOC people or history. In 2023, 49 percent of the books the CCBC documented had significant BIPOC content (up from 46 percent in 2022), and 40 percent had at least one BIPOC primary character (up from 39 percent in 2022). 

In 2023, 49 percent of the books the CCBC documented have significant BIPOC content — up from 46 percent in 2022.

On the other hand, the share of books having at least one creator (e.g., author, illustrator, or compiler) who is BIPOC was nearly identical to 2022. Forty percent of the books the CCBC received in 2023 were by a person of color. This includes 18 percent that had at least one Asian creator, 13 percent that had at least one Black creator, and 11 percent that had at least one Latine creator. By comparison, 70 percent of the books the CCBC received had at least one white creator. 

In recent years, the CCBC has seen more books that reflect the multifaceted complexity of individual lives when it comes to identity — for example, books in which characters are multiracial/multiethnic; that reveal intersectional identities; or that portray other dimensions of identity, including disability, LGBTQ+, and minority (non-Christian) religions. 

Of the books the CCBC received in 2023, 7 percent featured a primary or significant secondary character/human subject with a disability or were about one or more disabilities, 7 percent featured LGBTQ+ themes or characters, and 4 percent featured a minority religion. 

The CCBC notes that books with multiple primary characters and/or subjects or primary characters/subjects with multiracial or intersectional identities are counted in all applicable categories. Percentages are not mutually exclusive and cannot be combined to calculate a total of the whole. 

As the number of books reflecting the lives and complex identities of children, teens, and families today continues to grow, they are having greater visibility in libraries and classrooms, and in the lives of children and teens. 

Schmidt

“The CCBC Diversity Statistics focus on quantity, not quality. But what we know from our work recommending books in our annual best-of-the-year list, CCBC Choices, is that greater numbers inevitably mean more outstanding choices among the books published,” says Schmidt. “Librarians, teachers, parents, and other adults who care for children have more high-quality books to choose from when selecting and recommending books for young readers and listeners that reflect and validate dimensions of their identities and their place in our global society.”

The Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) is a unique examination, study, and research library of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The CCBC is also funded by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction through the Division for Libraries and Technology.

*The statistics about books by and/or about Black, Indigenous and people of color are periodically updated online. This online data includes more detailed percentages, and the number of books represented by each percentage.

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