November 18, 2010

Bestselling Native children's books

"Bestsellers in Children's Native American Books"One thing I (always) wonder about is best-selling books. One source of info is Amazon. In their "Bestsellers in Children's Native American Books" (time/date of list: 7:23 AM, Central Time, November 8, 2010) are the following titles. Some are on their more than once. In some cases, its clear that the duplicate is a Kindle edition, but others seem to just be repeats. There isn't, for example, a note that says it is an audio copy.

It is, overall, a disappointing list and it makes me grumpy on this Monday morning....I'm glad to see Native authors on the list, but duplicates of some really problematic books like Touching Spirit Bear?! And it is pretty easy to see that Amazon's customers want works of historical fiction or "myths, legends and folktales."
The top 10:

1) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

2) Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O'Dell

3) One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims, by B. G. Hennessy

4) Island of the Blue Dolphins (Kindle), by Scott O'Dell

5) Squanto's Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving, by Joseph Bruchac

6) Touching Spirit Bear, by Ben Mikaelsen

7) North American Indians, by Douglas Gorsline

8) Tapenum's Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times

9) Encounter, by Jane Yolen

10) Sing Down the Moon, by Scott O'Dell

(Excerpted from Debbie Reese's American Indians in Children's Literature, 11/8/10.)

Comment:  As Reese notes, there are only four recognizably Native authors on the list:

Joseph Bruchac (10 books)
Louise Erdrich (3 books)
Sherman Alexie (2 books)
Michael Dorris (1 book)

Having 16 of the 100 books written by Native authors isn't a bad number. You'd expect most American books about any subject to be written by white Anglo-Saxon Protestants.

But the list has other problems:

  • Too many books by a small subset of white authors: Scott O'Dell, Paul Goble, Jane Yolen. (I believe Natives have criticized Goble's book, at least.)

  • Too many problematical books: Touching Spirit Bear, Arrow to the Sun, The Indian in the Cupboard, Ten Little Rabbits, Meet Kaya: An American Girl, The Last of the Mohicans.

  • None of the many good Native children's books by a wide variety of Native authors.

  • For more on the subject, see Indians in Top 100 Children's Novels, Children's Books Are Mostly White, and Children's Book for Heritage Month. For more on the subject in general, see The Best Indian Books.

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