SundayMorningReads

Posted on 1 June 2014 Sunday


Another small press to put on your radar: Brown Girl Publishing.

From their site:

Our Company: Brown Girls Publishing is a boutique publishing company, focusing primarily on digital content, while still providing printed books through Amazon. Our goal is to provide a voice for literary fan favorites, while introducing the next generation of authors.

Our Founders: Between them, National Bestselling authors, ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Victoria Christopher Murray have more than two million books in print. The dynamic duo decided to combine their respective talents in a highly popular series, in addition to their successful solo careers. So naturally, their next endeavor would be something near and dear to their hearts – helping build the next generation of authors, while at the same time, spotlighting some fan favorites. Victoria, a former successful entrepreneur, also holds an MBA from New York University. ReShonda is a former TV journalist and marketing professional with over 20 years of experience.

Beautiful summer weather this Sunday afternoon! I began my day in the garden and had my first harvest. I had so little on my ‘to do’ list yesterday, no more than to go to the market and to  read. The market here hasn’t even begun. And, the #weNeedDiverseBooks session at BEA was yesterday. I got myself to a diner to follow the tweets where I learned about plans for #WeNeedDiverseBooks to work with the National Education Association and First Book to plan a KitLit Diversity Expo in Washington DC in 2016. The jam-packed room resounded with support for the need for more diverse books and the momentum is just beginning.

No doubt it will take every day from now until then to plan the expo, but it will take everyone one of us being involved in kidlit to make it successful. Now more than ever is time to be present and any and every forum that relates to young adult literature, not just diversity. We have to continue showing up to stay part of the conversation. Join them on Twitter or Facebook if you can’t join in person.

As I reflect on the yesterday’s events, I considered two groups: librarians and young adults themselves.

I think it will be very hard for many young adults to express their desire for more books with characters like them. Those who do have a high level of awareness and will make extremely articulate cases for why we need more diverse books.

My own story is not unlike many of my generation, of not knowing I wanted books with black people until I’d found them. I grew up in Catholic all white schools and as an avid reader, I read whatever I could find. I remember going to the public library in the black neighborhood as a child. Black librarians (or were they clerks?) worked there but I do not remember books with black children then. I remember the good sisters giving me anthologies that contained stories and poems written by black authors and while I was initially embarrassed, I cherished those books and read them again and again. Probably in high school I found the Soul Brothers and Sister Lou. Definitely in high school I found Sammy Davis’ Junior’s Yes I Can and Margaret Walker’s Jubilee. I don’t remember any others, but I know the desire was there. Junior year I know I read Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen and Gwendolyn Brooks with some discomfort in my all white classes yet the topic I selected for my research project that year was LeRoi Jones.

Of course teachers need better training on cultural awareness, but the issue I’m looking at is the lack of books available to me in the library. What if I could have found them freely on my own? What if my classmates could have read books about black kids? Or Latina? Or Asian? How much more would we all have grown and developed? I can’t help but think that if I’d read more books with characters like me, I’d have found my voice sooner.

What experiences are young people of color today having with their reading selections? How many are able to find what they want? How many want more books with young people of differing color, nationality, sexual orientation or abilities? I remember how powerful Ari’s voice was and would like to hear from more young people.

I have to shake a finger of blame for the lack of diversity at my fellow librarians who continue to complain ‘the books are too hard to find’. I’m right here sharing book news as is Diversity in YA,  Rich in Color, and American Indians in Children’s Literature as is your library’s booksellers as is Amazon!! (hint: search young adult African American) Library shelves should reflect the diversity of America!

In April, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) released “The Importance of Diversity in Library Programs and Material Collections for Children”.

“The white paper explores the critical role libraries play in helping children make cross-cultural connections and develop skills necessary to function in a culturally pluralistic society.  The paper calls for libraries to include diversity in programming and materials for children as an important piece in meeting the informational and recreational needs of their community.”

“The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action” was just released by the Young Adult Library Services whitepaper coverAssociation. The report affirmed that teens find libraries to be a safe haven, but it also reported on how many libraries are at risk of losing teen spaces. Who are these teens you ask?

“According to an analysis of the 2010 census data completed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, there are currently 74.2 million children under the age of eighteen in the United States; 46% of them are children of color.14 All of the growth in the child population since 2000 has been among groups other than non-Hispanic whites.”

The report goes on to enumerate the many social issues confronting these teens and dynamic programs libraries across the country have developed not necessarily to address these issues but to address literacies this empowering teens through measures that are equitable and just.

And it starts with the books on the shelves that reflect the world in which we live.

Literacy. I haven’t talked tech in a while. Google scares me not because of their admitted lack of diversity but because Google continues to develop more and more Artificial Intelligence capabilities. Oh, it began with how they studied search patterns (knowledge seeking behaviors) it blossomed with Google Glass and thrives when we hear about Google devices in surgeries and now Google Nose?? Let’s keep our kids literate. Follow these stories and know how information and technology is being used in our world.  Let’s keep them reading! Let’s get them Binging it!

That beautiful sunshine has morphed into a dark gray sky, thunder and pouring rain. Diversity is beautiful.

 

 

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