School of Education News

CCBC’s Horning speaks with Atlanta Black Star for report on lack of diversity in children’s books

August 12, 2019

The Atlanta Black Star recently utilized research conducted by UW–Madison’s Cooperative Children’s Book Center for a report headlined, “More Children’s Books Feature Animals Than Black People; Black Publishers Are Working to Change That.”

The CCBC is housed within the UW-Madison School of Education. It publishes an annual report tracking the number of children’s books by and about people of color and from First/Native Nations. The center started tracking these numbers in 1985, documenting them in their annual best books listing, “CCBC Choices” publication. Today, the CCBC maintains a web page devoted to the statistics and multicultural literature.

The Atlanta Black Star report begins by noting that when the CCBC’s research started in 1985, less than 1 percent of books for children and teens had black authors or illustrators.

The report adds: “Although that number has improved more than 30 years later, only 10 percent of children’s books featured black characters in 2018, while 27 percent of them featured animals or other characters who aren’t human.”

Kathleen Horning, the director of the CCBC, tells the newspaper that this research shows “we still have a long way to go.”

Horning explains to the Atlanta Black Star that she isn’t only talking about the number of books published about black people — but also the number of books that authentically portray black people.

“So, all in all, I’d say it’s not enough for a book to just be about African American characters,” Horning tells the newspaper. “They also have to have an authentic portrayal of African American characters in order for them to truly be a mirror for black children and teens.”

Check out the entire report via this web page.

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