THE NEWBERY AWARD: A CORRECTION AND APOLOGY

Children's book writer Ellen Jackson has kindly called to my attention a huge error in my statistics in the piece "Award and Gender" in my collection The Wave in the Mind, (Shambhala, 2004).

Referring to the number of Newbery Medals awarded by gender, on p. 151 I say, "From 1941 to 1998, men 34, women 12. Although only 1 out of 3 authors of books for children and young adults is a man, since 1941 the prize has been given to a man 3 times out of 4."

The figures and the conclusion are wildly incorrect. The passage should read: "From 1941 to 1998, men 16, women 40. As about 1 out of 3 authors of books for children and young adults is a man, the prize is a quite fair reflection of author gender."

And the entire last paragraph on p. 151 should be deleted and replaced with this: "I apologise for incorrect statistics and hence unfair conclusions concerning the gender balance of the Newbery Award in the previous edition of this work."

As there is nothing Shambhala can do about my mistake until a reprinting or new edition of the book, I can only ask readers who have the book to enter the corrections — and to forgive me for (apparently) reversing genders in my count. I should never meddle with statistics.

There are still things that trouble me about the Newbery Awards, but I am ashamed of ascribing gender injustice to them when they are in fact a rare example of gender equity. I apologise with all my heart.

Ursula K. Le Guin
Sept 3, 2005
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Updated Sunday July 13 2008