When you read an article like this about diversity in children’s literature, you are likely to see statistics cited. Those statistics often come from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, or CCBC, which has been tracking trends in children’s literature, with a special emphasis on diversity, for decades.
The CCBC is a research library on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus devoted to books for children and young adults. For over fifty years, the CCBC has been serving the University community as well as teachers, librarians, and book lovers statewide.
If you are in Madison, you can visit the CCBC and wander aimlessly through the stacks or you can have one of the very helpful librarians help you find what you are looking for. You can attend book discussions and presentations by the very helpful librarians, and lectures by famous writers and illustrators. For example, the Charlotte Zolotow Lecture is held every fall. Past lecturers included Judy Blume, Lois Lowry, and Rita Williams-Garcia. Some of the lectures have been archived on video. This year’s lecture will be presented by Yuyi Morales.
The CCBC has recently moved to a larger space. They took their old friend Paul Bunyan with them.
He’s been in the CCBC, wherever it’s been located, since 1963.
There’s a new feature in the new space, a mural based on Lois Ehlert’s Planting a Rainbow. (Since it’s on window instead of a wall, should it be called a fenestral?)
If you find yourself in Madison, check out the CCBC, but there’s one thing you can’t do at this library—check out books.
Even if you can’t get there in person, you can still use many of the resources at the CCBC. One of the most unique is the online exhibit of drafts of Ellen Raskin’s Newbery-award-winning book The Westing Game, along with notes, galleys, and an audio recording of Raskin talking about the manuscript. It provides a wonderful insight into the writing and book design process.
One of the most popular resources is CHOICES, the annual best-of-the-year book published by the CCBC. Each issue of CHOICES includes an essay on that year’s publishing trends, a description of each book (there are 259 in this year’s issue), and author/title/illustrator and subject indexes. You can get the list of this year’s books here. If you want to get your hands on the book itself, go here (or enter the giveaway at the end of this post).
The Charlotte Zolotow Award is presented by the CCBC every year and recognizes outstanding writing in picture books for children.
On the website, you will find pages full of information about Harry Potter and graphic novels. There are videos highlighting great new books, podcasts, webcasts, and interviews. The carefully curated bibliographies and booklists cover a wide range of topics from poetry to bullying to food. And don’t miss the CCBlogC for the latest news and books.
Many of the activities of the CCBC are supported by the Friends of the CCBC. The Friends help out with the publication of CHOICES, the events and awards, and with outreach by the librarians. And the book sale. Oh, the book sale! The CCBC receives thousands of books each year. Even in the new, bigger space, they can’t keep them all. Twice a year, the Friends sell the extra books to raise funds for their activities. A couple of weeks ago, I scored a grocery bag full of some great books at the spring sale. I also picked up five issues of CHOICES (2011-2015) to send to one lucky winner. Enter here:
Jacqueline Houtman has used the collection at the CCBC to study books with autistic characters while she was working on The Reinvention of Edison Thomas, and to study biographies for young people while she was working on Bayard Rustin: The Invisible Activist. She served on the Board of Directors of the Friends of the CCBC for three years.