Diversity 102: from the Lee and Low blog

Diversity in Publishing 2015 C

Graphics courtesy of Lee and Low Books

For years, the number of diverse books in American children’s and YA publishing has remained stuck at about 10%, according to data gathered by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center. Could the backgrounds of the decision-makers in our field–publishing executives, editors, sales reps, marketing and publicity people, reviewers–have anything to do with this? It is after all surprising to find such a gap between the representation of diversity in children’s and YA books and comparable demographics in the general population?

Who works in publishing? This was the simple question that led to the 2015 Diversity Baseline Survey, although the conversation itself has been going on for much longer. As Jason Low writes:

While the lack of diversity among publishing staff was often spoken about, there was very little hard data about who exactly works in publishing.

The survey results are now out. They come as no surprise.

I’m happy to say that two of my publishers are involved with the survey. Lee & Low, of course, with the intrepid Jason Low at the helm of this effort. And Groundwood Books, another North American pioneer in bringing underrepresented books to the market. But Simon and Schuster? Did I miss them somehow? Nope. Not there.

So the question remains, what happens next? And whatever happens, how can we learn to talk about it and move on? This survey feels like a giant step in the right direction. So, for that matter, does this year’s Newbery Award.

2 thoughts on “Diversity 102: from the Lee and Low blog

  1. Interesting in relation to last night’s conversation.

    Am I missing something here? I don’t see how the stats compare with the various representation in the overall population. ??

    K

    • Katherine’s reply refers to a similar conversation in our writing group. And no, these numbers don’t offer that comparison. I believe the non-Hispanic white population of the US is currently at about 63%, with a “minority majority” projected for 2043.

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