NPR listeners’ list of great teen books is ‘the whitest ever’

NPR recently asked listeners to vote for their favorite Young Adult novels. The radio network looked at the more than 75,000 responses and came up with “Your Favorites: 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels.” Only two books on the list — “The House on Mango Street” and “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” — have main characters who are people of color.

“This just might be the whitest YA list ever,” author Laurie Halse Anderson writes on her blog. She says she’s honored that two of her books made the list, but “it also made me sad. And angry and frustrated.”

NPR ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos writes:

Much of the criticism was directed at the four white judges, but the censure is misplaced. After speaking with editors and studying the poll, I find that the problem was not the judges, but the nature of the poll and the make-up of the audience.

The ombud points out that NPR’s audience skews white and mature, and that “many of the voters merely selected the books they knew, loved and identified with when they were teens.” Thus, the poll result “was innocent, normal and natural. If still sad.”

* NPR listeners’ list of best-ever teen books is called “the whitest ever” (npr.org)
* Your favorites: 100 best-ever teen novels (npr.org) | Check out the NPR Books site

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