Friday, January 02, 2009

Demography and the Newbery

Here's a link to that Bloomberg article we were discussing in yesterday's post.


Anonymous said...

Is it my imagination or does this article imply that Sherman Alexie won the Newbery Medal for ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY rather than the National Book Award?


Eric said...

I found this link to a copy of the BYU paper cited in the article.

I found it interesting that the author cites "Tale of Despereaux" as a winner featuring an ethnically diverse protagonist.

The paper doesnt not include the "coding" for each title so we dont know how specific titles were classified.

Lazygal said...

Anonymous, I'm glad I'm not the only one wondering about that one! Not only that, but I wouldn't classify Alexie's book as potential Newbery material - potential Printz material, definitely.

Monica Edinger said...


Thank you so much for the link. I'm posting it to the child_lit list as others were trying to find it unsuccessfully.

Monica Edinger said...

I do wonder about how he figured that for Tale of Despereaux. What strikes me most of all is that he has relatively positive conclusions from his study while the Bloomberg reporter used them very differently.

Kathleen Odean said...

The Bloomberg piece and the NY Times piece based on it are wrong on two out of three counts: gender and family structure. They're wrong on gender because the reporter was careless. The study she used shows 14 girls and 12 boys as protagonists in the period from 1980-2007.

The study is wrong on family structure because the author makes careless mistakes in his underlying data, which he sent me.

I went into some detail about this on the Child Lit listserve.

Andy Laties said...

Well, I think that this article, appearing as it does in Bloomberg, is quite delightful because of the political inversion. I mean, ever since the election of Ronald Reagan and the elevation of William Bennett's perspective, which attacked "tenured radicals," this effort to make children's literature more inclusive has felt like a rearguard battle -- fought while executing a strategic retreat and regrouping. I mean, the American Library Association is an organization that fights censorship, and is subject to ATTACKS for its defense of diversity and also controversy in books. Didn't a Newbery winning book just a year or two ago engender fierce attacks on ALA -- Susan Patron's book with the famous dog scrotum? And now, this is an article essentially saying that ALA is too conservative?? And the article isn't appearing in The Progressive or The Nation, but -- on

It seems the Neo-Cons have well and truly lost the culture war! We have won! Huzzah!

thommy said...

And what of Ms. Garza's assumption that the Newbery Award goes to a novel? I suppose it's easy enough to determine the ethnicity of the protagonist of The Voice that Challenged a Nation, but what about Joyful Noise? or The Great Fire?

And if we're preoccupying ourselves with underrepresentation, what of all the kids with gender issues, of their own or of their friends and families? The last time a GLBTQ-themed book was recognized by the Newbery award was when?

Or maybe Despereaux was non-white and gay.

Wendy said...

Kathleen, on the gender thing, the article only sort of implies that protagonists are increasingly likely to be male; it states first just that they ARE more likely to be male, which is true. Looking at the entire list since 1922, there are more male protagonists than female. (Then, of course, it says "increasingly", which is where the error comes in.)

Sorry, Thommy, Despereaux was definitely not gay, though I guess trans-species love isn't exactly "straight"...

Anonymous said...

Have there been more Dog Newbery Medal winners or Cat Newbery Medal Winners? (LOL)

How long has it been since a picture book was even a Newbery Honor? (Too Long!)

May the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children be honored.

I know what I would choose!

Monica Edinger said...

I would guess Horses! (tongue firmly in cheek.)

Show Way,a picture book received a Newbery Honor in 2006.