Hot diggity -- dogs!
Jul 3, 2013
I’ve always thought that children liked books about dogs. This was true for me growing up; many hours were spent reading (and re-reading) books that featured dogs, including The Call of the Wild and White Fang by Jack London and Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.
The 2013 William Allen White Children’s Book Award (WAWCBA) winners are books that include the word “dog” in their titles: Guinea Dog by Patrick Jennings and Ghost Dog Secrets by Peg Kehret. These books are currently on display at ESU’s Special Collections and Archives, as well as two posters which highlight the WAWCBA winning books from 1952-2008. This annual award is bestowed by schoolchildren across Kansas, who vote for their favorite book from a master list culled by the William Allen White Children’s Book Award selection committee. As I perused the displayed posters, it seemed that books about dogs had often been chosen by Kansas schoolchildren for this honor, and so I thought it would be interesting to see if my impression was correct. Here is what I discovered:
Since 1952, children in grades 3-8 have chosen 74 winners from 1,238 books. 26 of the master list books have been about dogs, which means that only 2% of the books chosen annually by the WAWCBA selection committee feature dogs.
Of the 74 books which have received the William Allen White Children’s Book Award, 8 have been primarily about dogs. This short list includes Old Yeller by Frank Gipson, Kavik the Wolf Dog by Walt Morey, Dominic by William Steig, Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, A Dog’s Life: The Autobiography of a Stray by Ann M. Martin, How to Steal a Dog : A Novel by Barbara O’Conner, and Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohata. (The “primarily about dogs” designation was determined by the term “dogs” being used as a subject heading in the book’s catalog record.) 12 books include “dog” or “dogs” or “dog’s” in their titles, including one of this year’s winners, Guinea Dog, which is really about a guinea pig. 23 books include “dog” or “dogs” or “dog’s” in descriptive notes.
Let’s look at the numbers:
- Books primarily about dogs have won 10.8% of the awards.
- Books with titles that refer to dogs have won 16.2% of the awards.
- Books in which dogs play an important role have won 31% of the
So, what do you think? Is it true that children, or at least Kansas schoolchildren, enjoy reading books about dogs? And, since only 2% of the books chosen for the WAWCBA master lists are about dogs, yet that small group has won over 10% of the awards, does writing a book about dogs increase an author’s chance of winning a William Allen White Children’s Book Award?
To access these 1,238 books, please ask for the William Allen White Children’s Book Award Master Lists record group (ESU003.006.001.001.001) when you visit Special Collections and Archives in Room 119 of the William Allen White Library. Additional records about the William Allen White Children’s Book Award, including the award ceremonies and information about the winning authors, are located in record group ESU003.006.001.001.