Children's Books by and about People of Color Published in the United States
Statistics Gathered by the Cooperative Children's Book Center
School of Education,
University of Wisconsin-Madison
In 1985 the Cooperative Children's Book Center began to document the numbers of books published in the United States for children each year which were written and/or illustrated by African Americans. When CCBC Director Ginny Moore Kruse served as a member of the Coretta Scott King Award Committee that year, we were appalled to learn that, of the approximately 2,500 trade books that were published that year for children and teens, only 18 were created by African Americans, and thus eligible for the Coretta Scott King Award. Using the CCBC's collection and working in conjunction with the Coretta Scott King Award Task Force of the American Library Association, we have continued to document the number of books each year and to publish this statistic in our annual publication CCBC Choices.
Because of the great ongoing interest in these statistics and concern for accurate and authentic portrayals of people of color in literature for children, in 1994 we began keeping statistics for the numbers of books "by and about" American Indians, Asian/Pacifics and Asian/Pacific Americans, and Latinos, as well. Because we don't have access to statistics comparable to those gathered for the Coretta Scott King Award, we are unable to make an accurate determination as to how many of these were actually created by authors and illustrators of these ethnic backgrounds. As is true with books about Africans and African Americans, however, a large number of the books about people of color are written by white authors and illustrators.
We continue to see evidence of the importance of small, independently owned publishers as contributors to a significant body of authentic multicultural literature for children in the United States and Canada. We have also noted the importance of children's book awards in calling attention to outstanding work created by and about people of color. See our multicultural literature page for links to mulitulcultural literarture awards and other resources.
The number of books published each year that are included in our statistics are based on the new books received each year at the Cooperative Children's Book Center. It does not typically include mass market or gimmick/toy books created for direct-to-consumer sales. Rather, these are the trade books typically available for sale to public schools and public libraries, as well as some series/formula non-fiction titles. It should be noted that the CCBC does not receive every book published annually, although we do receive most of the hardcover books for children and teens from the major trade book publishers.
The numbers we cite for books by people of color within each broad group do not represent the number of individual book creators--often a single individual has written or illustrated more than one title. Additionally, the number of books "about" each broad grouping includes all titles we can identify, regardless of whether the book creator is a person from that broad group.
Note: in addition to compiling annual statistics, we also include an essay sharing our observations about the publishing year in the introduction to each edition of CCBC Choices, our annual best of the year list, and this always includes comments on multicultural publishing. (Recent essays.) The statistics below may not always correspond to those in the Choices commentary for that publishing year. Discrepancies occur when we receive books after the deadline for including the numbers in the print publication. The table below represents the most accurate accounting.
Children's Books By and About People of Color Published in the U.S.
Number of Books
By and About People of Color Published in the U.S.
Total Number of
Asian Pacific /
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Total Number of
Total Number of Books