SundayMorningReads

“’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.

5 thoughts on “SundayMorningReads

  1. hi Edi,

    Would you be interested in posting about the In the Margins committee? We need 2-4 new members. part of our charge is to find self published and ndependent books about, for and about kids of color. We have several on our list that are unique and not listed in other places in the library world. We have a narrow range of what we are looking at, but still.

    Here is our press release with all the info on it….

    and if you think it’s worthy of inclusion, my blog is listed below my sig line.

    let me know if there is any other info I could provide….

    Amy Cheney

    Follow My Blog! http://writetoreadbooks.wordpress.com

    Write to Read Juvenile Hall Library & Literacy 2500 Fairmont Drive San Leandro, CA 94578 510.667.4347 (office) 510.898.8249 (cell) http://juviewrite2read.aclibrary.org/

    “I dont feel like Write to Read just gave me a book and asked me to read; I feel like they gave me a book and told me to dream, to see a better life for me. Shannon, former detainee

  2. Hi Edi, here is another email with more information.

    The press release for In the Margins booklist is attached. We are excited about our first year and believe our list highlights important books by people of color that have not been listed anywhere else, especially in the library world.

    I was hoping you would be interested in posting this information on your website or list serve:

    In the Margins is a virtual committee under the umbrella of the Library Services for Youth in Custody group. Our mission is to seek out and highlight fiction and non-fiction titles (PreK through adult level) of high-interest appeal to boys and girls, ages 9-21 who may fit into one or all of the following categories: multicultural (primarily African American and Latino), from a street culture, in restrictive custody and reluctant readers. We focus on finding self published and independent titles. In the Margins strives to find the best books for teens living in poverty, on the streets, in custody – or a cycle of all three!

    We need 2-4 new committee members to serve.

    DEADLINE TO APPLY 3/21/14. Please fill out the application to be considered for the committee.

    For more information visit: http://www.youthlibraries.org/margins-committee-membership-information#overlay-context=margins-book-award-selection-committee

    or contact Amy Cheney at ajcheney at mac dot com

    Thank you for your assistance, and if you need other information, please let me know.

    Amy Cheney

    Follow My Blog! http://writetoreadbooks.wordpress.com

    Write to Read Juvenile Hall Library & Literacy 2500 Fairmont Drive San Leandro, CA 94578 510.667.4347 (office) 510.898.8249 (cell) http://juviewrite2read.aclibrary.org/

    “I dont feel like Write to Read just gave me a book and asked me to read; I feel like they gave me a book and told me to dream, to see a better life for me. Shannon, former detainee

  3. Thanks for posting this, and I have already shared it via Twitter and and Facebook. I am one of those authors of color and I have three state conventions I am speaking at this year, Illinois Reading Council (March), Connecticut Library Association (April) and Ohio Educational Library Media Association (October). I will be spreading the word at all of them

  4. Pingback: It’s All Good! How You Can Create Diversity in Publishing | Lyn Miller-Lachmann

  5. Pingback: Looking In, Looking On | Crazy QuiltEdi

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