Do you subscribe to listservs? I do and I often exchange information with members of the group and lately, I’ve made it a point to sent two or three POC titles to librarians who can’t seem to find any good books about  bullying or cooking for teens. I remember when I submitted books by Reshonda Tate Billingsly, Stephanie Perry Moore and Varian Johnson to a request for Christian fiction someone quickly pointed out that they were written by Black authors. A rather Christian thing for her to do, I’m sure.

Then there are those who request books written for Latino or for Black teens. I think they’re saying that Sarah Dessen, Scott Westerfeld and Jerry Spinelli do not write for teens of color but that Walter Dean Meyers, Alex Sanchez and Randa Abdel-Fattah only write for teens of color and probably only for those in their own ethnic group.

That bothers me because, well, it’s stupid. Books are written for whoever wants to read them, not just for members of a certain ethnicity. You do not have to be White to understand the pain in Cheryl Rainfield’s Scars or the humor of David Lubar’s Let Sleeping Freshmen Lie no more than you have to be Black to feel the emotions in Christopher Paul Curtis’ Watsons Go to Birmingham. So, why act like these books are meant only for ‘certain people’?

George Lucas gets that people think like this and he used it to his advantage in marketing “Red Tails”. He knew that White people would see Red Tails as a Black movie and not go see it. So he called them on it when he revealed all the money he put into the production and what an important story it is.

Recently, Debbie Reese shared this writing by Chris Crutcher as it appeared in Matt de la Pena’s blog comments.

 “Hey Matt, the responders here have said it as well as it can be said. I’ll what I can to bring as much light to this as possible. Let me know if you have ideas. I’ve been able to laugh off book bannings based on irrational right wing Christian fears (and politically correct left-wing fears as well) for years. There were even times I (foolishly) believed those folks wanted the same things for young people that I wanted; just had a different belief about how to get there. But this is racism pure and simple. I’m sick of living in a country in which it’s become more heinous to CALL someone a racist than it is to BE a racist. There will come a time, I hope in my lifetime, when the ethnic scales will tilt and these assholes will be voted out of office. Until then, let’s do what we can to make their lives interesting.”

 We sit and look at the issue in Arizona and wonder how can this happen? How can books be removed from university and public school classrooms as well as be removed from school libraries?  No doubt, reviewing the historic time line of events will provide supporting evidence, but no doubt we’re looking at groups of people who see racial issues as the other guys issues, who see learning Mexican American history, reading books by African Americans or listening to lectures by Native Americans as the other guys issues. It’s funny when you know that the state of Arizona rests on land that was purchase from Mexico in the Gadsden Purchase/Venta de La Mesilla in 1854. Learning their own history is subversive, I guess.

Next month, don’t just see it as Black History Month. The Civil Rights Movement changed the lives of Whites as well as Blacks. I mean, if you’re going to hold me down, you have to stay in place with your foot on my neck advancing little yourself. Learn what great Americans did for this country and make The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters as much a part of your cultural history as the AFL-CIO. It’s not a Black thing, It’s an American thing and it improves the lives of ALL our children, not just the Black ones.

Quite thinking books with characters of color are only for readers of color. Realize that not reading a book because of the color of the author or its characters is indeed racist. Not liking a book by an author of color based on merit is our US given right, but anything less is wrong. Pushing books aside because they’re written by “those people” (gays, differently abled or differently colored) is just how Arizona got where it is today. The racism in Arizona is NOT JUST A LATINO ISSUE. IT’S AN AMERICAN ISSUE.

I can’t say it much clearer than that. So I challenge you to do something.

  •  Join the Birthday Party Pledge and give POC books to ALL the children in your life.
  • Join the Paper Tigers Reading the World Challenge.
  • Join the Africa Reading Challenge at Kinna Reads.
  • Join me, Doret and Vasilly for the African American Read In. The book will be announced Monday morning.
  • Find out what your state mandates with regard to race and culture in schools. My state says this
  • Follow Carleen Brice’s White Readers Meet Black Authors.
  • Follow Debbie Reese on Twitter  debreese or follow her blog to know what’s happening in AZ. The following suggestions are from her blog.
  • Learn about a planned walkout by going to the Facebook page of DA Morales, or following his blog posts at Three Sonorans, or, by following his Twitter feed: ThreeSonorans.
  • View excerpts–specially selected for the Teach In–from Precious Knowledge, the documentary about the MAS program that will be aired on PBS in May.
  • In elementary classrooms or library read-alouds to elementary-aged children, tead aloud from one of the picture books used in the MAS program. Two suggestions are Pam Mora’s The Desert is My Mother, Gary Soto’s Snapshots from the Wedding. 
  • With older students, introduce them to Matt de la Pena’s Mexican WhiteBoy or Sandra Cisnero’s House on Mango Street. 
  • Share what you know with your family, friends, and colleagues.
  • Purchase a copy of Rethinking Columbus or one of the other books that was boxed up and removed from classrooms, or, one of the books that was used in the program.
  • Purchase a copy of Precious Knowledge. To order, write to (Individual copy is $28. Public library copy is $40. Rights for university or public performance are $200.) Request your local school and public library to buy a copy as well.
  • Sign the petition set up by Norma Gonzales. She taught in the MAS program.
  • Donate to the fund to support the work to fight the ban.

ARS 15-112






Have a vibrantly, colorful week!

2012 National African American Read-In

This year, I’m joining Doret@HappyNappyBookseller and Vasilly@1330V to host a book event for the National African American Read-In sponsored by the Black Caucus of the NCTE and the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English). We’ll be reading a book for the month of February and discussing it online. To decide the book, the three of us selected six books for participants from which the book we read will be selected.

Good Fortune by Noni Carter
Fences by August Wilson
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines
Topdog/Underdog by Suzi Lori Parks
Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Pull by B.A. Binns

The poll is on Vasilly’s blog. The title selected will be announced on Monday 30 January. The Read-In will begin on 22 February and discussions will be held throughout the week on each of our three blogs.

I hope you’re able to choose just one!


I noticed a lot of conferences tweeting this week but the most prominent on my radar has been #ALA12 meeting in Dallas. Seven short years ago when I entered the library profession, midwinter was a very small conference mainly for committee meetings. My, how it has grown! The conference also hosts the ALA media award winner announcements. This year, they can be following via webstream live on Monday 23 Jan at 8:45 ET. 18 awards announce. . Or follow via #alayma

The NAACP Image Award  nominees were announced today. Justin Torres is mentioned for Outstanding Literary Work by a Debut Author. Lyah LeFlore crossed over from YA to co-write a  book in this category. Tayari Jones is nominated for Outstanding Literary Work Fiction for Silver Sparrow, which is often noted for its YA crossover appeal. Reshonda Tate Billingsley, former YA Christian fiction author also was nomimated in this category.

And then there are the Youth Teen Winners. It’s a rather disappointing list that the list throws so many middle grade fiction and nonfiction books into one category of winners. While in other categories, the NAACP is able to embrace the concept of being an organization for people of color by incorporating Latino authors, they don’t in this category. Nominees here are

Camo Girl by Kekla Magoon (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing – Aladdin)

Eliza’s Freedom Road: An Underground Railroad Diary by Jerdine Nolan /Author, Shadra Strickland/Illustrator (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing – Paula Wiseman Books);

Jesse Owens: I Always Loved Running by Jeff Burlingame (Enslow Publishers, Inc.)

Kick by Walter Dean Myers AND ROSS WORKMAN(HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books)

Planet Middle School by Nikki Grimes (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

One final thought on these awards. Just a thought, mind you. In my opinion, if the NAACP wants to be seen as a player in the literary world, they have to do more than just give awards. They really ought to address the lack of diversity in the publishing industry, the need for a greater availability for books for all people of color to read and the importance of diversifying hiring throughout the industry. They, more than authors, bloggers or readers, have the clout to really make a difference.

Librarians in Arizona have stepped up to make a difference. Debbie Reese (@debreese) recently tweeted the Porgressive Libarian’s Guild’s Statement on Censorship and the Tucson Unified School District.

 Regarding the political aspects of this situation, A.R.S. §15-112 was signed into law in the spring of 2010 on the heels of the state’s anti-immigration law, considered by many to be racist and neocolonial.  The law is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.  PLG considers A.R.S. §15-112 to have arisen from a climate of racist sentiment among lawmakers in the State of Arizona.  This sentiment has been promoted by Judge Kowal in his siding with Department of Education expert witnesses against TUSD and MAS, which placed TUSD “between a rock and a hard place” – either suspend MAS or lose state funding for the entire school district.  Given the budgetary problems facing school districts across the nation, TUSD’s decision to sacrifice MAS over funding is understandable, but unacceptable.

 TUSD is aware its MAS program did not teach “racial resentment” but historical literacy. It is also is aware there is absolutely nothing in the MAS curriculum that affronts civic values or clashes with classes that teach “ethnic solidarity.”  In the face of absurd, draconian laws, the only ethical position to take is one of complete opposition.  Today’s capitulation to A.R.S. §15-112 will be tomorrow’s capitulation to the next absurd, racist law enacted by the Arizona legislature.  The law should be abolished.

 The Progressive Librarians Guild opposes the actions of all officials in the State of Arizona responsible for the passage, enforcement, and/or compliance with A.R.S. §15-112.


Are you on Twitter? I really enjoy losing hours on Twitter. I get so much information there, way more than my blogroll these days which I avoid like crazy to limit my time online. A few of the people I love to follow:

@kishizuka Technology Editor, School Library Journal, mother, second best cook in the house

@librarycourtney academic librarian (info lit, advising, technology, diversity), ALA, military brat, social butterfly, NFL fan, shopping, the total package

 @pammoran as an educator I’m for 21st c community learning spaces for all kinds of learners, both adults and young people; comments reflect my personal point of view.

@freduagyeman Poet. Writer. Reader. Promotes African Literature. Agricultural Economist.Accra

@tonnet  Education, Translation, Math, Physics, Technology, Social Media, Blogging.

I’m not a real fan of blog posts that list favorite tweets. Retweet it on Twitter, I think! Nonetheless I have one, just one tweet to share this week.

RT @srharris19 ALA problem with diversity… Everybody on the dais for the Executive Board/Council meeting is white. #alamw12

That says it all, my friends. Shall we keep an eye on the ALA?

For 20 years Kiva has been serving the poor in the Phillippines.

For 20 years Candlewick has been publishing books.

20 years ago I was just finishing work on my Teacher Certification. My children were 9,8, and 6 years old.  I was doing word processing on an Atari computer and knew absolutely nothing about the Internet. A lot has changed in those 20 years!

Embrace your week with tenderness.

review: Riot

"Another innovative work by an author constantly stretching the boundaries of what fiction can be, and a natural for readers’ theater in the classroom." ~Kirkus Review

title: Riot

author: Walter Dean Myers

date: Egmont; 2009

main character: Claire Johnson

In developing the history of this book, Myers states that the first Africans came to America as slaves in 1619. I have to correct this statement and please know that in doing so, I’m not discrediting Myers further historic details. I have not studied the New York Draft Riots and from reading the book, I believe the author did extensive research on this event.

To say the first Africans came as slaves in 1619 is a rather common misstatement. The first Africans came to the New World with the Spanish and Portuguese as explorers. They traveled with Columbus, Balboa and other explorers of the day. Free Blacks helped establish St. Augustine, FL in 1565 and were present in cities established by the Spanish throughout the Southwest. Africans were sold as indentured servants in Jamestown in 1619, just as poor Europeans were, with all expecting to buy their own freedom. It’s the racist mutation to enslaving the Africans as human chattel that changed everything and led to the events Myers describes in Riot.

In this book, written in screenplay form, Myers focuses on a mixed raced family to encapsulate the horrors of the Draft Riots. Irish were upset that they were being forced/drafted to fight in what they saw as a war that would free southern Blacks to compete with them for jobs. Wealthy Northerners could buy their way out of the war and most of the Irish were not wealthy. At the same time, conditions existed in large Northern cities that brought Irish and Blacks into close proximity, creating strong friendships and even marriages. ­­­­­­

John, a Black man, is married to Ellen, a White woman and their daughter, Claire who is light enough to be identified as White. The riots bring racism to Claire’s attention (who embodies the sentiment of society) to the forefront as never before. Why can’t she just be herself and not be Black Clair, she wonders. Myers takes us into the streets where we dwell in the fear, compassion, hatred and desperation of the characters.

I didn’t want to like the story because of it’s formatting. The book is written in screenplay form, as Monster was. These form can be quite limiting when developing a book but Myers is such a good writer! His dialogs did a wonderful job of taking me back to that era. I particularly liked when Walt Whitman appeared in the story.

I would pair this book with

A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott


Tuskegee Airmen Go To the Movies

I received the following in an email last week. Since then, “Red Tails” has opened and has received glowing reviews. If, after reading this you know who want to see the movie, be sure to see it this weekend. The opening week of any movie is what is used to judge its success. Use your dollar vote!

It’s George Lucas’ version of the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, 20 years in the making, and has a predominantly Black cast, all the main actors are Black.  
When the movie was finally ready for production, no production company would take it; as a result, George Lucas had to write a check.  After production was completed, no distribution company would take it. So, George Lucas wrote another check. The advanced viewing was sponsored by Wells Fargo and the Museum of the African Diaspora.  

similar article in Washington Post

R.I.P. Mexican American Studies in AZ

When I heard about the legislature in Arizona remove Mexican American Studies from the curriculum and all related books from all schools, my initial thought was that the people of AZ need to fix this. But, do you remember when AZ legislatures first began publicly declaring their racism by enacting laws that made illegal immigration a crime and required local law enforcement to try to determine the residency status of anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant provided they don’t stop them for that reason alone? Have you noticed how many other states have quietly passed similar legislation since then? Mine has. Has yours? Pay attention, people!!

Debbie Reese has an excellent post on the issue, which supplies this list of books being removed from the curriculum. Literally. Someone is boxing them as you read this.
High School Course Texts and Reading Lists Table 20: American Government/Social Justice Education Project 1, 2 – Texts and Reading Lists

  • Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years (1998), by B. Bigelow and B. Peterson
  • The Latino Condition: A Critical Reader (1998), by R. Delgado and J. Stefancic
  • Critical Race Theory: An Introduction (2001), by R. Delgado and J. Stefancic
  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed (2000), by P. Freire
  • United States Government: Democracy in Action (2007), by R. C. Remy
  • Dictionary of Latino Civil Rights History (2006), by F. A. Rosales
  • Declarations of Independence: Cross-Examining American Ideology (1990), by H. Zinn

Table 21: American History/Mexican American Perspectives, 1, 2 – Texts and Reading Lists

  • Occupied America: A History of Chicanos (2004), by R. Acuna
  • The Anaya Reader (1995), by R. Anaya
  • The American Vision (2008), by J. Appleby et el.
  • Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years (1998), by B. Bigelow and B. Peterson
  • Drink Cultura: Chicanismo (1992), by J. A. Burciaga
  • Message to Aztlan: Selected Writings (1997), by C. Jiminez
  • De Colores Means All of Us: Latina Views Multi-Colored Century (1998), by E. S. Martinez
  • 500 Anos Del Pueblo Chicano/500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures (1990), by E. S. Martinez
  • Codex Tamuanchan: On Becoming Human (1998), by R. Rodriguez
  • The X in La Raza II (1996), by R. Rodriguez
  • Dictionary of Latino Civil Rights History (2006), by F. A. Rosales
  • A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present (2003), by H. Zinn

Course: English/Latino Literature 7, 8

  • Ten Little Indians (2004), by S. Alexie
  • The Fire Next Time (1990), by J. Baldwin
  • Loverboys (2008), by A. Castillo
  • Women Hollering Creek (1992), by S. Cisneros
  • Mexican WhiteBoy (2008), by M. de la Pena
  • Drown (1997), by J. Diaz
  • Woodcuts of Women (2000), by D. Gilb
  • At the Afro-Asian Conference in Algeria (1965), by E. Guevara
  • Color Lines: “Does Anti-War Have to Be Anti-Racist Too?” (2003), by E. Martinez
  • Culture Clash: Life, Death and Revolutionary Comedy (1998), by R. Montoya et al.
  • Let Their Spirits Dance (2003) by S. Pope Duarte
  • Two Badges: The Lives of Mona Ruiz (1997), by M. Ruiz
  • The Tempest (1994), by W. Shakespeare
  • A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America (1993), by R. Takaki
  • The Devil’s Highway (2004), by L. A. Urrea
  • Puro Teatro: A Latino Anthology (1999), by A. Sandoval-Sanchez & N. Saporta Sternbach
  • Twelve Impossible Things before Breakfast: Stories (1997), by J. Yolen
  • Voices of a People’s History of the United States (2004), by H. Zinn

Course: English/Latino Literature 5, 6

  • Live from Death Row (1996), by J. Abu-Jamal
  • The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven (1994), by S. Alexie
  • Zorro (2005), by I. Allende
  • Borderlands La Frontera: The New Mestiza (1999), by G. Anzaldua
  • A Place to Stand (2002), by J. S. Baca
  • C-Train and Thirteen Mexicans (2002), by J. S. Baca
  • Healing Earthquakes: Poems (2001), by J. S. Baca
  • Immigrants in Our Own Land and Selected Early Poems (1990), by J. S. Baca
  • Black Mesa Poems (1989), by J. S. Baca
  • Martin & Mediations on the South Valley (1987), by J. S. Baca
  • The Manufactured Crisis: Myths, Fraud, and the Attack on America’s Public Schools (19950, by D. C. Berliner and B. J. Biddle
  • Drink Cultura: Chicanismo (1992), by J. A Burciaga
  • Red Hot Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Being Young and Latino in the United States (2005), by L. Carlson & O. Hijuielos
  • Cool Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Growing up Latino in the United States (1995), by L. Carlson & O. Hijuielos
  • So Far From God (1993), by A. Castillo
  • Address to the Commonwealth Club of California (1985), by C. E. Chavez
  • Women Hollering Creek (1992), by S. Cisneros
  • House on Mango Street (1991), by S. Cisneros
  • Drown (1997), by J. Diaz
  • Suffer Smoke (2001), by E. Diaz Bjorkquist
  • Zapata’s Discipline: Essays (1998), by M. Espada
  • Like Water for Chocolate (1995), by L. Esquievel
  • When Living was a Labor Camp (2000), by D. Garcia
  • La Llorona: Our Lady of Deformities (2000), by R. Garcia
  • Cantos Al Sexto Sol: An Anthology of Aztlanahuac Writing (2003), by C. Garcia-Camarilo, et al.
  • The Magic of Blood (1994), by D. Gilb
  • Message to Aztlan: Selected Writings (2001), by Rudolfo “Corky” Gonzales
  • Saving Our Schools: The Case for Public Education, Saying No to “No Child Left Behind” (2004) by Goodman, et al.
  • Feminism is for Everybody (2000), by b hooks
  • The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child (1999), by F. Jimenez
  • Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools (1991), by J. Kozol
  • Zigzagger (2003), by M. Munoz
  • Infinite Divisions: An Anthology of Chicana Literature (1993), by T. D. Rebolledo & E. S. Rivero
  • …y no se lo trago la tierra/And the Earth Did Not Devour Him (1995), by T. Rivera
  • Always Running – La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. (2005), by L. Rodriguez
  • Justice: A Question of Race (1997), by R. Rodriguez
  • The X in La Raza II (1996), by R. Rodriguez
  • Crisis in American Institutions (2006), by S. H. Skolnick & E. Currie
  • Los Tucsonenses: The Mexican Community in Tucson, 1854-1941 (1986), by T. Sheridan
  • Curandera (1993), by Carmen Tafolla
  • Mexican American Literature (1990), by C. M. Tatum
  • New Chicana/Chicano Writing (1993), by C. M. Tatum
  • Civil Disobedience (1993), by H. D. Thoreau
  • By the Lake of Sleeping Children (1996), by L. A. Urrea
  • Nobody’s Son: Notes from an American Life (2002), by L. A. Urrea
  • Zoot Suit and Other Plays (1992), by L. Valdez
  • Ocean Power: Poems from the Desert (1995), by O. Zepeda
  • Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
  • Yo Soy Joaquin/I Am Joaquin, by Rodolfo Gonzales
  • Into the Beautiful North, by Luis Alberto Urrea
  • The Devil’s Highway, by Luis Alberto Urrea