When I think about the Canadian publishing industry, that’s generally the phrase that comes to mind: a few black writers take up a whole lot of space, and are fed (with opportunities, award, grants, etc.) until they choke the pond and make it
impossible difficult for new writers to emerge. Now, the question is: whose fault is that? The handful of successful black writers? Or a system that prefers to create an exclusive club by rewarding only a few talented people? According to the ALA site, it was never the stated intent of the Coretta Scott King Award to increase the number of black authors and illustrators working in the field of children’s literature:
Given to African American authors and illustrator for outstanding inspirational and educational contributions, the Coretta Scott King Book Award titles promote understanding and appreciation of the culture of all peoples and their contribution to the realization of the American dream of a pluralistic society.
The award is designed to commemorate the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and to honor Mrs. Coretta Scott King for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.
But shouldn’t widening the field be one of their primary goals? Does it make sense to promote the same authors and illustrators over and over again? Ari is asking these and other provocative questions over at Reading in Color; check it out and contribute to this conversation…
In other news, One Crazy Summer won the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction—congratulations, Rita Williams-Garcia!!!