Study finds CBCA early childhood category shortlisted books overwhelmingly white
A study of books shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year Award in the early childhood category since 2001 has found that only 12% of human main characters in the shortlisted titles are not white, reports the the Conversation.
The as yet unpublished study by Helen Caple and Ping Tian looked at representation in the 118 books shortlisted for the category between 2001 and 2020, and also examined diversity among the 103 authors and illustrators who have made the shortlist over the past 20 years. Picture book characters were divided into human (52.5%), animal (41.5%), object (4.4%) and imaginary (1.4%), with human characters further divided into main characters and supporting characters.
Out of 52 human main characters across the 118 shortlisted books, 51 are children, with 48% boys and 46% girls. However, the characters are overwhelmingly white (88%) with the study finding just two First Nations main characters and one who is multiracial. The study notes that out of the six books shortlisted for the 2020 CBCA Book of Year Award in the early childhood category, four books contain no human characters but the two that do include no non-white characters.
Out of the sample of 103 authors and illustrators, 66% are women, while only one person identifies as First Nations, Alywarr illustrator Dion Beasley, who won the 2017 award for Go Home Cheeky Animals! (A&U).
The study follows an Australian study from 2019 that looked at gender diversity in the top 100 bestselling picture books at Dymocks, and UK studies that have found a lack of diversity in Nielsen BookScan bestselling picture books.
This year’s CBCA book of the year winners will be announced tomorrow, Friday 16 October.