deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
[personal profile] deborah
One hugely important outgrowths of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement has been the understanding the diversity in books requires diversity in authors and illustrators, in the publishing industry, and yes, among reviewers. Malinda Lo compiled her four-part Tumblr essay into "Perceptions of Diversity in Book Reviews" (February 18, 2015), and Jason Lee of Lee & Low Books assembled "The Diversity Baseline Survey" for publishing houses and review journals. A few months ago, School Library Journal released their numbers for race (though oddly not disability or sexuality and gender identity) with Kathy Ishizuka's "Survey Reveals Demographic of SLJ Reviewers (April 27, 2015). Now my editor, Vicky Smith, has released the numbers for Kirkus Reviews.

I know Vicky was working on diversifying the KR review pool for a while before Malinda made her much needed call, which might be part of why KR's numbers, pathetic though they may be as representative of the industry, are less bad than one might expect. I will say that Vicky has never shut me down or edited me out when I've critiqued a text on social justice grounds: race or gender, queerness or disability, fatphobia or class. She asks me to provide page references and source quotations, and occasionally asks me if changes she's learned will appear in the final version of the book (rather than the advanced review copy) will change my assessment. The only person who second-guesses my race or gender analysis is me; years after a review I will sometimes wonder if I've been too harsh (oy, that one book still haunts me) or if I didn't shine enough of a spotlight on something that needed the right attention.

If you want to know why it's legit for a trade reviewer to comment on ideological grounds, ask and I'll make that post. There's a long answer, but the short version is readers want to know. In the case of children's and YA books, teachers and librarians especially want to know.

Anyway, here are a couple of pieces by Vicky:From the latter:
We asked our 110 reviewers to answer four questions: What race do you identify as? What gender? What sexual orientation? Do you have a disability? In just three days, I received 79 responses, and I can't say I'm terribly surprised by the overall results. We are mostly white: 77 percent. We are mostly straight: 76 percent. We are mostly able-bodied and -minded: 81 percent. And—only in children's books, folks—we are overwhelmingly female: 86 percent.


I'm in some of those groups and not others (white, cis, female; queer, disabled). And I fully support the goal to continue diversifying KR, reviewing, and the entire field.
Page generated Mar. 25th, 2017 11:48 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios