By Deborah Dundas
In a recent survey undertaken for the Toronto Star, publishers from across Canada were asked about representation of diverse communities in their children’s book offerings. No survey like this had been undertaken in the country before. In the United States in 2002, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin began keeping track of how many books were published for children and young adults that were “by and about people of colour and from First/Native Nations.” Continuing the survey each year has helped to form a baseline from which to measure progress over the years. In 2002, for example, of 3,150 books received at the CCBC, 69 were by African/African Americans and 166 were about African/African Americans. In 2018, that number had moved substantially upward – 202 books were by African/African Americans and 405 were about. Modeling a survey on that research, the author at the Toronto Star undertook to establish a similar baseline here in Canada. The results of that survey were then compared to the demographic figures produced by Statistics Canada to compare how many BIPOC, LGBTQ and disabled characters were represented in the books compared to their representation in the Canadian population.
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