The Interracial Books for Children Bulletin: A Bibliography of Diverse Books
In 1965 Nancy Larrick wrote the landmark article “The All-White World of Children’s Books,” which documented the racism and lack of representation in children’s literature. An ongoing problem when Larrick issued her challenge, lack of representation is still an issue in 2016, as evidenced by the literature and awareness campaigns and initiatives like We Need Diverse Books (http://weneeddiversebooks.org).
The same year as Larrick’s initial call for action, she and other library and literary professionals founded the Council on Interracial Books for Children (CIBC) (Charnes, 1984; Banfield, 1998). An outgrowth of the Civil Rights Movement, the Council strived “to promote a literature for children that better reflects the realities of a multi-cultural society” and “to effect basic change in books and media” (Council, 1976, p. vii). From 1966 to 1989 the CIBC produced the Interracial Books for Children Bulletin (IBCB), a reviewing source dedicated to locating and promoting unbiased, multicultural, anti-racist, and anti-sexist materials for children. The IBCB was dedicated to presenting “perspectives that are not often heard in the ‘establishment’ media” (Charnes, 1984, p. 19). Reviews and articles in the IBCB discussed materials about minority populations, and minority authors and reviewers wrote and produced these pieces.
Among the IBCB’s goals was to produce “interesting, consciousness-raising, stimulating” content that would afford those with book purchasing power “an opportunity to hear perspectives and learn information that you won’t find in other periodicals” (p. 20). The CIBC and the IBCB were often challenged and accused of censorship, as it was assumed that by addressing racism and sexism, they were promoting censorship. In actuality, they were strong social justice advocates who worked to improve and facilitate access to materials that reflect the world in which their readers lived.
Fortunately, the entire run of the IBCB is available, but only in print or microfiche. This limited availability prevents scholars, library professionals, and the public from accessing the Bulletin’s rich content. What books and media were reviewed? What authors, illustrators, and publishers were making real contributions in the world of diverse children’s literature at that time? What can current diversity initiatives and publishers learn from the valuable work produced by the IBCB? This information deserves a platform and the CIBC deserves wider recognition for the important work they produced.
The purpose of this project is to compile a bibliography of the books and media reviewed by the IBCB. Hopefully this resource will be of interest to library and information science practitioners and scholars, and also to children’s literature scholars, authors, illustrators, publishers, and multicultural literature aficionados.
It is hoped that this bibliography will have both short-term and long-term impact. In the short-term, this resource could be used as a teaching and research tool in classrooms and can aid collection development librarians in diversifying their collections. In the long-term, this bibliography could aid aspiring authors and illustrators, and publishers seeking to identify trends and gaps in children’s literature. As for current initiatives and diversity campaigns, it would behoove them to learn more about their groundbreaking and influential predecessor, the CIBC.
- Banfield, B. (1998). Commitment to change: The Council on Interracial Books for Children and the world of children's books. African American Review, 32(1), 17-22.
- Charnes, R. (1984). Social justice in children's materials: A look at Interracial Books for Children Bulletin. The Serials Librarian, 9(1), 17-21.
- Council on Interracial Books for Children. (1976). Human and Anti-Human Values in Children's Books. New York: CIBC Racism and Sexism Resource Center, 1976.
- Larrick, N. (1965). The all-white world of children's books. Saturday Review, 48(11), 63-65.
More information about this project can be found at www.nicolecooke.info under IBCB Project.