Jenny's Library

Archive for June 2016

Books 2014: Statistics

The numbers themselves are pretty self-explanatory for 2014, owing to the fact that I read just about 100 books. So the percentages are pretty much exactly what the totals are.

However, since I am years late posting this, I thought that I’d include a reminder/explanation as to why I even keep track in the first place.
The main reason is because my brain is weird and I find it interesting to compare all these numbers.

I also do it because, as a youth services librarian, I feel that it’s important that I read a certain amount of books, and certain amount of different types of books, in order to do my job properly. My main concern is making sure that my reader’s advisory suggestions are varied and current. I currently only order teen ebooks, so it’s not like I need to keep up on new picture books in order for my library’s collection to stay current. However, reading widely and often also helps with storytimes, displays, and all kinds of other responsibilities.

The reason why I keep track of different types of age/format categories should be pretty obvious, given the reasons I’ve stated above. But I suspect many people may be confused as to why I care about keeping track of how many authors of color that I read, or how many books by men that I read.

It still comes down to my wanting to be able to provide quality reader’s advisory.

Back around 2012 or so, I began to notice that whenever I’d go to pull books for kids to look over – middle graders in particular – most of the time, the protagonists were all white. The kids I was helping however, were not. Not that this would still be acceptable if the patrons had been all white, but there’s a particular sort of erasure and “not really actually being helpful” and “likely not inspiring kids to read more” to a white, middle class librarian constantly suggesting that kids of color read books that feature only white, middle class kids.

There are a huge number of useful lists I can go to to find suggestions for books that feature protagonists of color, but the way reader’s advisory works, it’s not always very effective or efficient to rely on those lists in the moment. I’ve found these lists incredibly valuable in terms of both collection development and choosing my own reading material, but lists usually don’t capture things like: tone, sense of humor, relationship dynamics, pacing, and the like. I’m also just more likely to remember and therefore suggest a book that I’ve actually read, even if I didn’t personally like it.

So if what I’m concerned about is the identity of the protagonist, why am I instead keeping track of authors? After all, there isn’t a one to one correlation. People write about people that are different from them all the time; this is as true of authors of color as it is of white authors. That’s kinda how it needs to be.

About the same time that I was deciding that I needed to improve my reader’s advisory, I was also reading a lot of articles by Rudine Sims Bishop, and one of the things that she talked a lot about in the articles I read (in addition to coining the concept of “mirrors and windows”) was authenticity, and how important it is that the children being written about are neither stereotypes nor disconnected from their communities and history. While reading books by authors of color isn’t a guarantee that this won’t happen, it does dramatically decrease the chances that it will.
It also has the bonus of supporting authors of color, which is important in and of itself.

So, now that the explanation is out of the way, how did I do?

Books Read by Type

Inline image 3

Books Read by Gender of Author

Inline image 2

Books Read by Race/Ethnicity of Author

Inline image 1

First, I think it’s clear that I did a lousy job of reading from all the different age/format categories. Which is part of why I set specific goals for myself in that regard for 2015 and 2016.

Secondly, I was a little surprised by the breakdown by gender. I read significantly fewer books by men in 2014 than I did in 2013. As I said in 2013, I’m not as concerned about that, as books by men don’t suffer overall from less promotion and my overall reading history is likely skewed more in favor of men because of the way that required reading is more likely to have been written by men. However, I might revise that assessment if this percentage persists, because that might mean that I’m not reading enough books by men of color or enough of the new, popular books.

Last but far from least, from 2013 to 2014 I increased the percentage of authors of color I read. I also read fewer books in 2014 than I did in 2013, so the number of books by authors of color that I read didn’t really increase. Which is why my goal for 2015 wasn’t to read a greater percentage of books by authors of color, but to maintain the 1:2 or better ratio of “books by authors of color : books by white authors” while also reading more books overall. We’ll see how well that worked out in a few days.

More importantly though, I now no longer find myself realizing after the fact that all the books I’m suggesting to kids have white protagonists. I don’t even always have to consciously think about it, either, when suggesting books, in order to make sure this doesn’t happen. My reading suggestions are now more “naturally” balanced and diverse. Which was the end goal.

This doesn’t mean that I’ll stop keeping track of this data anytime soon. And at some point I’ll likely try to increase the percentage of books I read by authors of color. Or, take a year or two to keep track of how many books by LGTBQIA authors I read, etc. But it does mean that all this number crunching did what it was supposed to. Which makes me very happy, and hopefully means I’m doing a better job as a librarian.

Advertisements

Board Books

Hide and Seek by Taro Gomi

Wiggle! by Taro Gomi

Mommy, Mama, and Me by Lesle’a Newman

My Lucky Little Dragon by Joyce Wan

Hippopposites by Janik Coat

Let’s Play House by Emma Quay

Picture Books

Hot Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia

Thunder Rose by Jerdine Nolan

Ellington Was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange

The Neighborhood Mother Goose by Nina Crews

Middle Grade Novels

Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T. R. Simon

Rain is Not My Indian Name by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Young Adult Novels

How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbelestier

Does My Head Look Big in This by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Lucy the Giant by Sherri L. Smith

Fly On the Wall by E. Lockhart

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

When We Wake by Karen Healey

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

Adult Novels

The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein

The Outskirter’s Secret by Rosemary Kirstein

The Lost Steersman by Rosemary Kirstein

The Language of Power by Rosemary Kirstein

Up Against It by M. J. Locke

The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones

Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie

The Duchess War by Courtney Milan

Graphic Novels

Boxers by Gene Luen Yang

Saints by Gene Luen Yang

Who is AC? by Hope Larson

A Game for Swallows by Zeina Abirached

Nonfiction

Diego Rivera: His World and Ours by Duncan Tonatiuh

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson

Coretta Scott by Ntozake Shange

We Are the Ship: The Story of the Negro Baseball League by Kadir Nelson

Heart and Soul; The Story of America and African Dreams by Kadir Nelson

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford

Board Books

Hide and Seek by Taro Gomi

Wiggle! by Taro Gomi

Mommy, Mama, and Me by Lesle’a Newman

My Lucky Little Dragon by Joyce Wan

Look and Learn: Opposites! by National Geographic Kids

Snow by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

Curious Baby My First Words at the Farm by H. A. Rey

Baby Colors by Rachael Hale

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

Hippopposites by Janik Coat

Let’s Play House by Emma Quay

Easy Readers

The Day I Had to Play With My Sister by Crosby Bonsall

Picture Books

The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve

Hot Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia

The End (Almost) by Jim Benton

Thunder Rose by Jerdine Nolan

Found by Salina Yoon

The Pigeon Needs a Bath! by Mo Willems

Ellington Was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange

Penguin on Vacation by Salina Yoon

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands by Kadir Nelson

I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes

The Neighborhood Mother Goose by Nina Crews

Middle Grade Novels

Cold Fire by Tamora Pierce

Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T. R. Simon

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer

Life With Lily by Mary Ann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher

Nikki and Deja by Karen English

Our Only May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm

Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadahota

Birthday Blues by Karen English

Boston Jane by Jennifer L. Holm

Shatterglass by Tamora Pierce

Prairie Evers by Ellen Airgood

Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always by Elissa Janine Hoole

Rain is Not My Indian Name by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Young Adult Novels

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Pinned by Sharon G. Flake

How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbelestier

Between Mom and Jo by Julie Anne Peters

Does My Head Look Big in This by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Lucy the Giant by Sherri L. Smith

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

The Juvie Three by Gordan Korman

The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Fly On the Wall by E. Lockhart

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

When We Wake by Karen Healey

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Fox Forever by Mary E. Pearson

Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper

Starters by Lissa Price

Bruised by Sarah Skilton

Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

Adult Novels

The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein

The Outskirter’s Secret by Rosemary Kirstein

Ghost Ship by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

The Lost Steersman by Rosemary Kirstein

The Language of Power by Rosemary Kirstein

Up Against It by M. J. Locke

The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan\

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

Warrior by Marie Brennan

Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones

Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie

The Duchess War by Courtney Milan

Graphic Novels

I Am Pusheen the Cat by Claire Belton

Rapunzel’s Revenge by Dean and Shannon Hale

The Eternal Smile by Gene Luen Yang

Boxers by Gene Luen Yang

Saints by Gene Luen Yang

Who is AC? by Hope Larson

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang

A Game for Swallows by Zeina Abirached

Short Stories, Novellas, Novelettes

How Beautiful the Ordinary edited by Michael Cart

Nonfiction

Slimed!: An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age by Mathew Klickstein

Diego Rivera: His World and Ours by Duncan Tonatiuh

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson

Coretta Scott by Ntozake Shange

We Are the Ship: The Story of the Negro Baseball League by Kadir Nelson

Heart and Soul; The Story of America and African Dreams by Kadir Nelson

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford

Martin de Porres: The Rose in the Desert by Gary D. Schmidt