They shouldn’t have to ask us!

I recently received an email from an author stating “I hate to ask, but…”  She had read the review I wrote for her book and she knew I really enjoyed it, so she asked me if I’d nominate it for an award. Can you imagine how she felt? I assume it’s something like how I feel when I as an author to do an interview, but a little worse.

And, she should have to feel like that, shouldn’t have to ask! Reader, I’m on a mission here to promote literacy for teens of color and by default, to promote authors of color and books that feature teens of color. I feel like I’ve been failing that mission. How about you? Are you promoting authors better than I am, and if so what are some of the things you’re doing?

Here are my suggestions.

  • As soon as you finish reading this post, go to your local library’s online catalog and look up 2 -3 new books by authors of color or that do an excellent job of featuring main characters of color. If the library does not currently own the books, request that they purchase them.
  • Buy your next 2-3 books by authors of color at a local bookstore. Call ahead and if they don’t have the books you want, have them place an order. Wait a few days to pick up the books so that the store employees can have a little time to explore the books.

These next suggestions are really, really important.

Nominate your current favorite books written by authors of color for awards and booklists. We have to stop passively complaining about how few authors who write for teens of color are included in a booklist if we make no effort to have their books included.

You might have missed the opportunity to nominate books for NPRs list of best books ever, but you still have time to vote on the finalists.

Nominations are open for YALSAs Best Fiction for Young Adults. Anyone can nominate a book, but authors cannot nominate their own books. So, nominate for them.

Finally, each state has lists of books that are nominated for awards in that state. These lists are often what teachers look at when selecting books for class reads and many librarians rely upon them to select must have books for their libraries. These lists are critical in getting books by authors of color to become part of the curriculum and thus part of the cultural landscape. Know what list your state uses and know the process for getting books on these lists.

The Cybils will begin soon and what was once a small award among bloggers has grown into something quite prestigious. Be sure to get your favorite authors nominated.

Part of the reason that Latino, African-American, Native American and Asian American authors have a difficult time publishing new books is that they’re not getting on these lists; their works are not getting enough recognition.

Readers, we often hold the key to our favorite author’s success!

It’s really late here. I’ve tried to proofread this, hope I’ve caught my typos but I hope you’re feeling my passion here and I hope it motivates you to do something!



I don’t think I’ve ever changed jobs and cities at the same time. I had no idea what the concept of ‘settling in’ would come to mean and how long it would take to do. Blogging, TBR piles and even fitness have suffered in the transition. However, I’ve lost nothing major

I was on the beach in Savannah at the beginning of this month!

and only gained possibilities.

Once again, rather than learning to turn to others to get things done, my sense of independence is only fortified well, except when it comes to learning the world of academia. Fortunately, I’m surrounded by professionals who are fast on the road to becoming friends.

Terre Haute is… interesting… I’ll just say that I’m glad to know it’s so close to St. Louis, Chicago, Louisville and the airport in Indy.

I have been getting back into reading and plan to post a review this week. This weekend, I did spend time reading some of the blogs I’ve missed for too long. I’ve been reading about bloggers being sued for placing photos on their blogs and for using images on Pinterest. I know I’ve mentioned that problem before. Pinterest is all about sharing images, yet their policy clearly states that you do it at your own risk.

APALA recently posted information about the University of Maryland’s LIS Symposium on Diversity.

“Symposium on Diversity in LIS Education will bring together information professionals and faculties to focus on preparing all LIS students to be ready to design & deliver inclusive services to diverse populations in the Information Age.

Talks and panels include: Changing demographics of library patrons; Designing academic programs for cultural competency; Recruiting diverse student populations to MLS programs; Funding diversity-related academic programs”. more information

YALSA’s Popular in Paperback Program is creating new lists for 2013. The topics for this year are:

  • Boarding Schools to Summer Camps: leaving home to find yourself. Leaving home to find yourself (books where the characters go to boarding school, study or work abroad, or participate in some other activity that takes them away from home for an extended period of time)
  • Keeping It Clean: these reads are a dirt-free zone. (books that are generally free from teen sex, cussing, teen drug use, or heavy teen drinking.)
  • Gowns, Greasepaint and Guitars: Not the same old song and dance. (books featuring music, theater, or any of the performance arts.)
  • I’m New Here Myself: A generation, caught between nations. A generation, caught between nations (books featuring characters who are immigrants or the children of immigrants, and their struggle to balance two very different cultures and define who they  want to be.)

Please take the time to recommend titles.

Did you know that Ramadan began two weeks ago? I’ve been invited to participate in an interfaith iftar this week. I happened to mention it to a couple of new friends who I think are going to join me. One, who is not Muslim, said she usually observes Ramadan. When you think about it, fasting is a tradition in most faiths.

Looks like another hot, rainless week but, this too shall pass! My mom would say “Just keep livin’!”




Product Image

Librarians and Educators (Subscribers):        $29.95 Librarians and Educators: $39.95 Students: $9.95
SummerTeen: A Celebration of Young Adult Books

SummerTeen: A Celebration of Young Adult Books    Event date: August 9, 2012    10:30-5:30 PM EDT * Exhibits open  at 10:30 * Keynote presentation begins at 12:00    Join School Library Journal and SLJTeen for SummerTeen: A Celebration of Young Adult Books and take  your summer reading to the new heights!
Be the first to find out about the hottest upcoming titles and trends for your  young adult collection as some of the most popular YA authors talk about their  books, their readers and why they write.
SummerTeen will bring together a blockbuster keynote  with presentations on topics near and dear to the hearts of youth services and  school librarians including the hottest genres and latest formats. Experience  the excitement of the virtual exhibit floor with new offerings from publishers  and sponsors, new book trailers, prizes and give-aways and much more! FEATURED PANELS

  • Who Will  Mend This Broken Heart?
  • Classic  Twists
  • The  Science in Science Fiction
  • Alternate  Formats—New Approaches to Teen Fiction
  • Rockin’ Women of YA
  • Aftermath Lit

For  complete event information, include panel descriptions, speakers and a full  schedule, visit

Gathering it All In


I have a Voya article out this month! The online version can be found here; turn to page 28.

Have you registered yet for JCLC? The 2nd annual conference will be held in Kansas City, MO from 19-23 September.

JCLC brings together a diverse group of librarians, library staff, library supporters, and community participants to explore issues of diversity in libraries and how they affect the ethnic communities who use our services. JCLC is a unique and unparalleled opportunity for participants to share successes, opportunities, and challenges while networking and attending cutting-edge programs on pressing issues affecting both librarians and communities of color. The conference includes speakers, skills building workshops, research based panels, networking opportunities and exhibits. In addition, JCLC deepens connections across constituencies and beyond, and unifies and strengthens the voices of each association.

Why is it no longer possible to change font color on WordPress?

From Sociological Images, an eye-opening look at how the world is shown to us.

Gecko Press  is a New Zealand Press that translates international books from many different countries into English. A really interesting selection of books from a range of genres and cultures.  Their site says that some of their books are distributed by Lerner in the U.S.

Indian Converts Collection  First published in 1727, the remarkable book “Indian Converts, or Some account of the lives and dying speeches of a considerable number of the Christianized Indians of Martha’s Vineyard” is now available in full online. Written by Experience Mayhew, the book provides remarkable insights into the lives and culture of four generations of Native Americans in colonial America. This digitized version was created at Reed College, and visitors can look through all four sections of the work, which include “Indian Ministers” and “Pious Children.” Throughout the work, Mayhew details the books that different age groups were reading, provides insights into early New England pedagogy and childrearing practices, and also describes each individual in terms of their own genealogy and personal history. The truly fantastic thing about the site is that it also contains an archive with over 600 images and documents that further contextualize the work. Also, the site contains study guides designed for classroom use that cover artifact analysis, genealogy, and reading gravestones (from AIALA)

 Jamie Campbell Naidoo writes about using the many wonderful Pura Belpre Award winners in your library programming.

“Established in 1996 by the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking (REFORMA) and the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), the Pura Belpré Award recognizes Latino authors and illustrators “whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.” The award’s namesake, the first Puerto Rican librarian in the New York Public Library system, was dedicated to bringing rich stories imbued with Latino cultural elements to the children and youth that she served in barrios and ethnically diverse neighborhoods throughout the city from the 1920s and 1930s and later in the 1960s and 1970s. In 2011, the Pura Belpré Award celebrated its quinceanera, marking fifteen years of works that carry on the mission first started by that energetic and visionary librarian so long ago.”


Male Monday: Varian Johnson

 “In the midst of writing books and working full time, Varian also attended the Vermont College of Fine Arts, where he received a MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

When he’s not writing about foul-mouthed, angst-ridden teenagers, he designs bridges. If you live in Austin or Dallas, you’ve more than likely traveled over some of them.

For more earth-shaking information about Varian, check out the FAQ page. Or check out his blog. Or email him.” (from Varian’s website)


Red Polka Dot in a World Full of Plaid

My Life as a Rhombus (linked to my review) AWARDS: A 2009 Texas Library Association Tayshas High School Reading List Selection; – A 2009 New York Public Library “Stuff for the Teen Age” Book Selection


Saving Maddie (linked to my review) AWARDS: A Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of 2011

“From today’s PW Children’s Bookshelf: Cheryl Klein at Scholastic’s Arthur A. Levine Books imprint has bought world rights, in a pre-empt, to author Varian Johnson’s middle-grade debut, Jackson Greene Steals the Election. Pitched as Ocean’s Eleven for middle-schoolers, the book stars an eighth-grade reformed con artist who has to get his old crew back together to stop the school bully from winning the all-powerful SGA Presidential election, while trying to win back his ex-best friend and first crush. Sara Crowe at Harvey Klinger brokered the deal.” (Lifted from one of Varian’s recent FB posts)

I’m really looking forward to meeting Jackson Green and I hope he has a long life at Scholastic!