The shortlists for the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals will be announced on Thursday 16 March. Normally this is one of the most eagerly anticipated moments in children’s literature in the UK; the Medals are the oldest children’s book awards and widely acknowledged to be the most prestigious. Will they remain, as so often described, ‘the ones that authors want to win’ after the controversy surrounding this year’s longlists, which included not one black, Asian or ethnic minority (BAME) author?
Over the years Books for Keeps has often been critical of the books selected for the CKG Medals, but we have never doubted or criticised the passion or commitment of the judging panels; children’s librarians are knowledgeable, hard-working and devoted to encouraging children and young people to read for pleasure. In the face of ongoing cuts they continue to do great work promoting children’s books and children’s reading.
Yet this is precisely why the current longlists and soon to be announced shortlists are so disappointing. The Carnegie Medal shortlist this year is poorer for not including one or more of the BAME authors nominated and for not bringing their books to the attention of children in the many thousands of CKG shadowing groups. It is shocking that thirty years since the ending of the Other Award (founded in 1975 by BfK editor Rosemary Stones and Andrew Mann of the Children’s Rights Workshop) there are still so few books for children being written by BAME authors; giving proper recognition to the fine books by BAME authors is a way to change that.
CILIP has now announced an independently chaired review of Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals as part of its wider Equality and Diversity Plan to be published in the summer of 2017. The Plan is as a result of on-going work, following previously published research commissioned in 2015 by CILIP and the Archives and Records Association, which outlined diversity issues in the library, archives, records, information management and knowledge management sector, including a gender split in the workforce of 78.1% female to 21.9% male (UK workforce 50.1% female and 49.9% male) and 96.7% of the workforce identify as ‘white’ (UK workforce 87.5% identify as ‘white’).
Nick Poole, CILIP Chief Executive, said, ‘We are committed to championing diversity, equality and inclusion through all of CILIP’s activities, from the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals to the wider library and information sector, while also confronting and challenging structures of inequality. We know there are long-standing and embedded challenges and we see this as a tremendous opportunity to promote positive change for ourselves and the sector. For this reason, we are announcing the publication of our Equality and Diversity Action Plan and an independently chaired review into the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals.’
The review will begin following the announcement of the 2017 winners in June and follow the 2018 prize cycle. Books for Keeps looks forward to revealing the books that make it onto the 2018 longlist.