Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children's Awards backlash

Kiran Millwood-Hargrave is one BAME author who some believe has been ignored

Kiran Millwood-Hargrave is one BAME author who some believe has been ignored

CILIP (the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) has found itself facing some strong criticism about a lack of diversity, with neither the institute's Carnegie or Kate Greenaway Medal longlists featuring a single BAME author.

The Carnegie medal is awarded to an "outstanding" book written in English for children and young people, and the Kate Greenaway Medal recognises "distinguished illustration" in a book for children. The longlists for both awards are 20 nominees long, and despite a clear depth of talent neither features a title by an author of Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic identity.

We gave out a "wow" when we heard, and it's news which has been met with a strong response from some quarters of the book industry. That despite CILIP stating it: "acknowledges and respects the concerns expressed", and assuring all titles were "judged on merit and on an equal playing field".

It's a sentiment refuted by Jhalak Prize co-creator Sunny Singh, who took to Twitter to make her own feelings known: 

Those sentiments were echoed by Jhalak co-creator Nikesh Shukla, who revealed his sadness about CILIP's statement. He added: "An equal playing field happens when no one has any cause or suspicion to note the lack of diversity. An equal playing field happens when more than a handful of authors from marginalised backgrounds gets published."

It's hard to argue, and it's hard to argue further still with a series of tweets Ms Singh referred to - by Sarah Shaffi (online editor of The Bookseller). Ms Shaffi, we think, offers an excellent tear-down of the elements for concern, with the first tweet in the series highlighted below. Still, we recommend clicking through to read those that follow:

Finally we just want to pick up on the idea of 'ignorance', because one of the books that was ignored was The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood-Hargrave. Ms Millwood-Hargrave's book has already been selected for the shortlists of this year's Jhalak Prize and Waterstones Children's Book Prize. It's clear then that in general terms The Girl of Ink and Stars isn't being ignored outright. That title may have been ignored by CILIP, but we wouldn't dare suggest that one book by one author should be on every shortlist. It's not completely surprising it isn't.

What we are completely surprised by - astonished really - is that of two 20-strong lists (a combined 40 nominees) there is not any book by a BAME author. That represents...well, zero representation, and it feels, looks, and even sounds odd to us; just as we're sure it will to many authors (and aspiring authors) across the UK. 

(The full longlists can be found here).