SundayMorningReads

Posted on 2 March 2014 Sunday


“’They’re so hard to find’ is no longer a valid excuse when you teach.” ~Zetta Elliott.

All over the blogosphere this week, you’re going to find the following action list created by Sarah Hamburg that delivers charges throughout the kidlit industry on what we can do to promote books by and about people of color and to amplify our demand for more books. The list is the result of a month long conversation on CCBC-net. This listserv routinely discusses issues that face the children’s and young adult book community but this past February, decided to focus on the issue of diversity. Highlighting the month were online discussions of When I Became a Ghost by Tim Tingle and If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth. Debbie Reese did a wonderful job of framing the entire discussion.

From this discussion, I added material to my resource page.

I’m amending the list to add what has been provided by others that have posted this online. Continue to add to the list, continue to be part of the movement. DO SOMETHING!!

  • Many of the ideas focused on personal activism: actively buying books representing a diverse range of voices; committing to ongoing challenges (Crystal Brunelle mentioned The Birthday Party Pledge, Diversity on the Shelf Challenge, and Latino/as in Kids’ Lit. Challenge); recommending and promoting diverse books to others when and wherever possible; asking for them at bookstores, schools and libraries; using social media in those efforts and to draw attention to issues of representation; writing reviews on Amazon, B&N and Goodreads; and stepping out of personal comfort zones to make connections and advocate on these issues.
  • For writers and illustrators, people also suggested personal activism would include: stepping out of artistic comfort zones; consciously considering questions of representation, audience and perspective in one’s work (including whether the perspectives and voices of people of color tend to be explored/presented in a heavy context); soliciting and listening to feedback from members of the communities one is writing about when going outside one’s own culture; and also considering questions of cultural bias and representation while conducting research and evaluating sources.
  • The same considerations hold true for those publishing, buying and using books with children, promoting books to parents and teachers, creating library and bookstore displays… etc. including whether those books receive the same quality and quantity of promotion, and whether they are somehow held apart from other books.
  • Many came back to the importance of smaller presses in making space for new voices. This included Tim Tingle’s publishers Cinco Puntos Press and RoadRunner Press, and Lee & Low Books. (Would it be helpful to create a list to share here of independent publishers who are actively publishing “multicultural” books?) Lyn Miller-Lachmann talked about visiting smaller presses at conventions to order books and create buzz. Jason Low talked about “liking” Lee & Low on Facebook and using social media to promote them and their titles, and purchasing their books through independent bookstores. Are there other ways people can actively support small presses, or that smaller children’s publishers can perhaps share resources to further cross-promote with one another? (Some consortium, such as an umbrella website?)
  • People also mentioned the importance of writers’ events and conferences, such as the Native American Literature Symposium, VONA Voices, the Lambda Literary Foundation, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, the Muslim Voices Conference, the Comadres and Compadres Writers’ Conference, and the Carl Brandon Society. [I have additional annual events on my Resource Page]
  • Along with such conferences, people talked about the possibility for individual outreach to writers/ artists who are working in other areas, but who seem like they might be suited to the children’s book field (like Debbie Reese introducing Eric Gansworth to Cheryl Klein.)
  • It’s exciting to see new businesses forming, like Cake Literary and the Quill Shift Literary Agency (where you can sign up to be a reader.)
  • People have also started an amazing array of blogs, websites and tumblrs that focus on aspects of diversity in children’s books. These include Diversity in YA, Rich in Color, American Indians in Children’s Literature, The Dark Fantastic, CBC Diversity, Lee & Low’s blog, Cynsations, CrazyQuiltEdi, BookDragon, Latinas for Latino Literature, Latin@s in Kitlit, All Brown All Around, Into the Wardrobe, Shannar Reed Miles-A Blerd Girl Writes, Bad NDNs, Miss Domino, Miss Domino’s FireEscape, Disability in Kidlit, Visibility Fiction, I’m Here I’m Queer What the Hell Do I Read?, The Naughty Book Kitties, Kristi’s Book Blog.  This list in is not all inclusive, but it’s a start. It does not include the multitude of authors of color who blog or allies who don’t devote their entire blog to diversity, but are there for the cause.
  • In addition, people asked that “diversity” be an inclusive idea, and not limited to one group or set of groups.

Uma Krishnaswami has added several thoughtful additions to this list.

I’ll add just one other thing.

This is the season for state library associations to issue their calls for proposals. Getting to the big conferences is expensive. Librarians don’t have the funds nor do authors of color who often can’t get the backing from their publishers. Attending state library conferences is an important and often overlooked way authors can reach readers. Authors can proposal sessions, and librarians can reach out to authors to creative fun, interactive and informational sessions that get bring important resources (i.e., local authors) into local schools and libraries. Simply Bing your state’s library association (eg, Indiana Library Association) and find out what they’re looking for and when it’s due.

Advertisements
Posted in: Sunday Reads