A look at 2012 Best-Of lists. Considering, celebrating diversity

[Updated Dec. 28, 2012] It’s Best-of season! It’s that time of year when review journals, newspapers, and book lovers of all kinds choose the best children’s books in a given year. I love it. Reminds me of Academy Award season in the movie business. Everyone talks about the best movie, actor/actress, director. And then everyone rushes out to see the talked-about movies. I’ve been doing the same with picture books, collecting the popular ones published this year. So much fun.

A few of my favorites: I Want My Hat Back, Fifty Cents and A Dream, Unspoken, Oh No!, Who Built The Stable, Green. I own all of these books except for a few, but I’m getting the others soon.

As an African American and debut picture book author myself, I’ve especially kept my eyes peeled to diversity among all these end-of-year lists. Some lists are refreshingly well balanced. When you consider that picture books written by or about African Americans make up such a fraction of the publishing pie, its good to see more than a few of these books on lists at all. I can only imagine what those lists looked like 20 years ago. Much to celebrate.

Below is a look at some of the 2012 Best-Of lists that include books written or illustrated by African Americans, or feature African American characters. 

Kirkus (Out of 100+ books, this is wonderful. Also, Kirkus has a longer list than others)
Fifty Cents and a Dream
Who Built The Stable?
Jimmy The Greatest!
We March
Spirit Seeker
Drummer Boy of John John
Dreaming Up (Features an African American child on cover)
I Have a Dream
Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!
Hand in Hand (not sure if this title is considered a picture book, but listing here just in case)
It Jes’ Happened

Publisher’s Weekly
I, Too, Am America
I Have a Dream

Parents Choice
Fifty Cents and a Dream
Each Kindness
Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!
Twice As Good

National Science Teacher’s Association, Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K–12: 2013 (Books published in 2012)
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
What Color Is My World?

School Library Journal
I Have a Dream
Fifty Cents and a Dream
Each Kindness
Jimmy the Greatest!

New York Public Library [Added Dec. 02, 2012]
H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination
Jimmy the Greatest!
I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery
It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw
Jazz Age Josephine
Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane’s Musical Journey
Me and Momma and Big John

2012 Nerdy Book Club Award Nominations [Added Dec. 02, 2012]
Each Kindness
Fifty Cents and a Dream
I Have a Dream
It Jes’ Happened

Horn Book Fanfare, 2012 [Added Dec. 06, 2012]
Jimmy the Greatest
Dreaming Up(features an African-American child on the cover)

Chicago Public Library [Added Dec. 16, 2012]
Each Kindness
We March
I, Too, Am America
Dreaming UP: A Celebration of Building
Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington
Freedom Song: The Story of Henry “Box” Brown
I Have a Dream
Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America
Zora!: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston (features an image of Zora Neale Hurston on cover)

CBC Diversity (The entire list is diverse, of course. Highlighting picture books) [Added Dec. 16, 2012]
Spirit Seeker
Each Kindness
Fifty Cents and a Dream
I Have a Dream
I, Too, Am America
Who Built the Stable?

Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth, 2012  [Added Dec. 28, 2012]
It Jes’ Happened
Jimmy the Greatest

Chicago Public Library, Best of the Best, 2012 (Another diverse list, with many other nationalities included)  [Added Dec. 28, 2012]
Each Kindness
We March
I, Too, Am America
Dreaming UP
Fifty Cents and a Dream
Freedom Song
I Have a Dream

 

 
For a more complete listing of the Best Books of 2012 lists, see Mr. Schu’s blog, Watch. Connect. Read. Also, I’ve compiled a list of 2012 picture books on Pinterest.

I haven’t seen much diversity among newspaper lists. Not much at all. Sigh.

Question: What other best-of lists have you seen that include African Americans as creators or subjects of picture books?

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8 Responses to A look at 2012 Best-Of lists. Considering, celebrating diversity

  1. Tracey says:

    I love end-year lists because they tell me what I should be reading that I missed during the year. Often it’s a lot. This year, it’s practically all of them. I’m also very happy to have your version that speaks specifically to our population. Thanks!

  2. marshariti says:

    Excellent list, Don! Lots of wonderful books that I’ll have to check out. Except for It Jes Happened, which is already proudly displayed on my bookshelf. :)

  3. Laura Scott says:

    We just received a beautiful picture book by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by William Low: Me and Momma and Big John; Candlewick, 2012

    • Don Tate says:

      I’ve seen this book, Laura! And it is a wonderfully illustrated story, rich with color and emotion. Thanks for reminding me of it. Big fan of William Low here.

  4. I love The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. I use it to supplement my district’s mandatory curriculum (Reading Street Grade 1) ‘s unit on ‘Inventors’. So much more engaging than Benjamin Franklin.

  5. I haven’t heard of most of these, which is why I love having this blog on my Reader — it helps me find great books that I’ve (somehow) missed. My 4-year-old daughter is bi-racial and I’m ALWAYS on the lookout for awesome picture books for her growing library. She especially loves those that feature characters who look like her. So, thanks for all of your recommendations. My daughter and I really appreciate it!

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