So I’ve been writing and rewriting a post on genre bias and the Printz for — I’m not kidding you — the past two weeks. But it boils down to a very drama-less post about a lack of genre bias in Printzland and how things seem to me to be fine. Which: good news for Young Adult Literature, but bad news for an interesting post, eh?
If you take a look at winners, they’re all over the place (in a good way!). Science fiction, fantasy, contemporary, historical fiction, nonfiction (OK, not a genre, but work with me here) — all there. Emily Calkins at The Hub broke down winners for us. While contemporary certainly dominates, there’s a strong mix of everything. And if you include honor titles as well, things generally even out. (And I should note, as Emily did: assigning genre is hard. I made some judgement calls on a few. You may not agree with where I landed, but I think the general trends are accurate, even if we disagree on one or two titles.)
OK, contemporary represents more than half the titles — 53%, in fact — but that aligns with my sense of YA publishing; there are a lot of realistic, contemporary titles out there! I don’t have firm numbers on the Realm of Young Adult Literature as a whole (do any of you? You do always amaze me with the knowledge and data you pull together!). Taking Kelly Jensen’s post on “Best of” Lists by the Numbers (again from the Hub), things…mostly line up. (Yes, that represents only a single year. Yes, that represents only some of the books published that year. No, I don’t think you can make sweeping pronouncements from this. But we’ve gotta start somewhere!)
I do think that people can have genre bias, but I think by and large most librarians come to the Printz table aware of their baggage, ready to be professional, to read outside of their comfort zone, and to listen to other committee members when disagreements come up.
So maybe you can add some drama in the comments. Am I way off base? Do you see genre bias?