The Cooperative Children’s Book Center, housed since 1963 at the School of Education on the University of Wisconsin’s flagship campus in Madison, has released its annual compilation of statistics on diversity in children’s literature. Of the 3,450 books published in 2022 that were received by the CCBC, 40% of the books were by a person of color, defined by the CCBC as having at least one author, illustrator, or compiler of each book being a person of color.
Of the 3,450 books received, approximately 3,200 are published by U.S. publishers; the others are published by U.K. publishers, or else Canadian, Australian, or New Zealand presses. Most of the books are in English, with some bilingual books and a few in other languages, primarily Spanish.
The statistical breakdown by race or ethnicity is as follows: 18% of the books received were by an Asian author, illustrator, or compiler; 13% were by a Black author, illustrator, or compiler; 11% were by a Latinx author, illustrator, or compiler; 1.5% were by an Indigenous author, illustrator, or compiler; and 0.4% were by a Pacific Islander author, illustrator, or compiler. By comparison, 71% of the books received had at least one white author, illustrator, or compiler.
Supplementing the above statistics, the CCBC reports that 46% of the books received have “significant BIPOC content” and 39% have at least one BIPOC primary character.
“This is encouraging,” CCBC director Tessa Michaelson stated in a release, noting that the number of books received by the CCBC that have BIPOC authors, illustrators, or compilers has tripled since 2015. “If this trend continues, we may soon see a world in which publishing for children and teens consistently reflects the rich diversity of perspectives and experiences within and across race and culture.”
Between 1985 and 1993, CCBC statistics were limited to children’s books written by Black authors, illustrators, or compilers as well as Black primary characters in the books, but in 1994, it expanded its mission to include tracking books by BIPOC authors, illustrators, or compilers as well as BIPOC primary characters featured in the books. In 2018, the CCBC began gathering a broader range of statistics on the identities of primary characters, including disability, LGBTQ+, and religion, but it does not publish those statistics.
Asked by PW this spring about any trends in children’s literature that the CCBC has noted in the past year, Schmidt said that there is more representation of intersectional identities. “It’s not just about one ‘fill-in-the-blank’ kid; it’s about multiple primary characters having intersectional identities. Someone might be a Latina who is gay and also has a learning disability—and her best friend is white, Jewish, and nonbinary. There’s more nuance in terms of representation, and we’re seeing an increased authenticity of what intersectional lives look like and how they’re portrayed in children’s books.”