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In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten

The State of the: Folktale & Fairytale Collection

On 04, Apr 2016 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten

One of my goals and major projects this year has been to examine the different sections of our collection, weed and update them, ensure they are being used, and introducing more diversity into them. I’m going to start sharing the numbers and my ideas on how I’m going to improve the collections. 

The Collection

This is all our 398.2s. There are a couple books that fall outside, but I didn’t worry about them too much. We have some books in our harder 4th-5th grade yellow section, but the vast majority of these books are in our easier/picture book red/blue section.

There are 412 books in the collection.

The Numbers

By and large I went with the culture the book identified with unless it was obvious that skin color and setting were just window dressing and the story remained very much the same. So for example Rachel Isadora did a version of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Sure the people are black and the setting is some where in Sub-Saharan Africa, but the story is exactly the same as in the Western European tradition and quite frankly that makes it a Western European book. I’m glad to see authors and illustrators making books that don’t default white and I think that’s important, but I also think we really need to get away from an almost exclusively Western European folktale tradition. African cultures have plenty of folklore of their own that would be wonderful to draw on.

Please note that you need to scroll through the legend on the chart. The list is long.

Thoughts & Concerns

This is another collection that directly supports many of our cultural/social studies units across grades which I thought would also give us another slice to look at and see how well we incorporate diversity. It’s also an easy place to get diversity into a collection because publishers like to put these kinds of books out.

I mean I guess I can say thank goodness it’s not 50% Western European, but it sure is close. The next closest number is the number of Native American tales (many of which I think need to be weeded), but it has 100 fewer titles. That’s a lot.

As with the biography collection, many of these titles need to be weeded . They are culturally insensitive and disapproved of by the groups they say they represent (Paul Goble, I’m looking at you). Again, I am not drilling down into this collection (yet! there are plans in place to work on this over the summer) looking at who actually wrote the stories or evaluating their accuracy. This just scratches the surface of what’s here and the issues present. I may return to this series after I weed the collections over the summer and look at where they numbers stand then.

And once more, as with the other collections I’ve looked at and the library as a whole, we just need to be really intentional in what we add from here on out. Unless it’s an outstanding Western European fairy tale then we probably don’t need it. Once we weed we should by anything we can find that is high quality folklore from any other culture or tradition.

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