Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Coretta Scott King Awards - Statistics 1970 to 2011

The 42nd Annual Coretta Scott King Book Awards were announced this week. The awards are for outstanding books for children and young adults by an African American author. The annual illustrator award was added in 1974. A Lifetime Achievement award was added in 2010. Congratulations to all nine 2011 recipients!

Since 2008, I've kept a spreadsheet on each year's winners. Simple items: year, what award won, name of recipient, title of the book, publisher, and whether winner was male, female or part of a team. I wish I had other insights to add: retail sales data, number of libraries which have the book in their collection, number of books published for children and young adults by African American authors or illustrators (what was the total universe of potential books), or number of books submitted that year for CSK Book Award consideration (how big was the pool from which winners selected). Or, I wish I could categorize the celebrity status of each author or illustrator (Berry Gordy and Pearl Bailey have won; but not Whoopi or Jada Pinkett-Smith). Is there such a thing as a "Walter Dean Myers brand"? I also wish I could categorize each book by mutually exclusive themes (e.g., historical, contemporary, picture book vs chapter) to see if there is any change in winning themes over time.

I'm not a statistician. I am a quilter and author of a children's book, Martha Ann's Quilt for Queen Victoria (True story!) and a couple other books about African American quilting history. I am also curious and enjoy pivot tables!

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are an institution - a much needed one. Each year there is an Author and Illustrator award winner. Additionally, there might be one or more Honorable Mentions. Some years there are awards for newly published authors or illustrators. There is also now an award for lifetime contributions to the area of African American children's and young adult literature. Here are the latest statistics about the CSK Book Awards.

  • There have been 255 total awards presented since 1970. 61% of the awards have gone to Authors, 38% to Illustrators and 1% to two individuals for lifetime achievement.
Are Women More Likely To Win a CSK Book Award?
I used to think that women were more likely to win a Coretta Scott King Book Award. And, on the face of things, it seems so. But, let's look more closely into the numbers!

  • Putting all the recipients in the mix since 1970, African American women have received 49% of all Coretta Scott King Book awards; followed by 44% to Black men and 7% to teams or couple writers or illustrators.
  • Black women tend to be the recipients of more Author awards and Black men tend to be the recipients of more Illustrator awards.
Let's look at only the WINNERS and not the Honors or Lifetime Achievers.

  • There have been 93 Winners since 1970. 48% have been Black men and 47% have been Black women. So, women are not really more likely to WIN an award - just to be the recipient of an award.
  • While not shown in the table, 80% of the New Talent Author Awards have been awarded to women. Five of the seven New Talent Illustrator Awards have been bestowed to men.
Which are the Winning Publishing Houses or Imprints?

The publishing world has changed considerably since 1970, which the first CSK Book Awards were given. My spreadsheet does not distinguish between publishers and imprints. The top five publishers since 1970 are: Scholastic (23 books), Dial (20 titles), Atheneum (14), Hyperion (12), and Harper Collins, Lothrop, and Simon & Schuster (each has 10 titles).
  • Looking only at data from 2000 to 2011, there have been 86 CSK Book Awards given to works published by 35 publishers.
  • 57% of the awards since 2000 have gone to books published by 10 children's book publishers. The top six publishers awarded a CSK Book Award are: Hyperion (9 titles or 10% of the 86 titles awarded), Scholastic (7 titles), Atheneum (6 titles), Henry Holt (6 titles), Simon and Schuster (5 titles), and Lee and Low (4 titles).
  • While not shown here in the table, there have been 13 New Talent Awards (author and illustrators combined) since 2000. Farrar Straus Giroux and Lee and Low are the only two publishers to have won twice each.
Past CSK Book Award Recipients Likely to Win Again! If one has won a Coretta Scott King Book Award before, one is likely to win again.

Let's have a look at the table above. This shows the number of people or recipients who have received two or more author or illustrator awards, whether as the winner or honors, since 1970. The Lifetime Achievement Awards are not included.
  • 41 recipients (male, female and couples) have received 175 awards or 69% of ALL CORETTA SCOTT KING BOOK AWARDS since 1970.
  • 24 Authors (or 31% or all authors) have received 102 awards or 65% of all the Author awards given.
  • 17 Illustrators (or 41% of all illustrators) have received 73 awards or 75% of all Illustrator awards given since 1970.
  • While not shown on this table, no New Talent Award for Illustrators have gone on to win another CSK Book Award yet. There have been three New Talent Awards for Authors to go on to win another CSK Book Award: Hope Anita Smith, Sharon Flake, and Sharon Draper.
Let's look at the 2011 Coretta Scott King Awards.

That's it. I've squeezed the last out of my Excel spreadsheet! My opinion on these stats? I am grateful for the exposure to African American kids literature provided by the CSK Book Awards. I celebrate those so honored. I still wish there were more authors and illustrators celebrated. There has to be more African American authors and illustrators of kids lit who are published AND who have sent their works into the CSK committee for review. I am not suggesting that awarding-winning level work not be rewarded. Nor am I asking previous multiple, multiple winners to simply not enter new works as awards lead to exposure and to potential sales... and we all have to feed our families. How is the pool of potential winners expanded? Is it really futile for a new or emerging author or illustrator to hope they can compete for a CSK Book Award? Given the emergence of self-publishing as a viable, profitable tool for authors - is it possible for a self-published book to compete for a CSK Book Award? Will there be innovations in the CSK Book Awards as eBooks and book apps gain in popularity? Only time will tell.

I'd love to hear what past CSK Book Award Judges say about the process. What is it like from their perspective? Does anyone know of any published article or video that shares a CSK judge's thoughts? Do share!

Again, congratulations to all the winners. I hope this summary is useful to the larger discourse. Thoughts?

If you have a moment, visit the Reading in Color blog for the "My Issues with the Coretta Scott King Awards" for a great argument for separating picture books, middle grade school and young adult books. I wholeheartedly agree with her suggestions!


Debbie Reese said...

Excellent work! I love that study of data.

I'd like to see the pool of Native authors grow. There's been a couple of new names in recent years.

Joseph Bruchac has done outstanding work for years.

Cynthia Leitich Smith's books are terrific.

Of late, Tim Tingle's books are gaining traction.

(Oh, came here from a tweet by Don Tate.)

Camille said...

Kyra, I love that you track this.

Debbie, I love Tim Tingle.

Steve Walter said...

Really nice track.. I love it..