In all that I’m going to tell you about KidLitCon, know that the highlight of my weekend was seeing my DIL, SweetPea’s mom, in LA. And I didn’t even think to get a pic.
Those KidLitCon ladies were wiped out at the end of things on Saturday. I applaud not only their hard work, but the fact that they stepped out there and planned a conference on the theme ‘diversity’. As necessary as diversity is, as much as the call for more diverse books has become in the world of children’s lit, using that term will still have you preaching only to the choir. The attendance numbers were small, I’m sure much smaller than previous years. No doubt, those who needed to be there were.
This issue of not enough brown faces in children’s literature has been around since Langston Hughes published the Brownies’ Book magazine in the 1920s. Damn near 100 years ago. And, we still think we can get publishing companies to produce more books for, about and with children of color, and queer children; those with exceptionalities those of varying income levels. You think it makes perfect economic sense, but please realize how empowering books are. They plant ideas.
KidLitCon reminded me of the power of networking. I’ve been hanging out here pretty much on my own for quite a long time. I miss the days of Reading in Color, The HappyNappyBookseller and Color Online. Maybe that’s why it has been so hard for me to get back into this. Maybe I need to change things up.
“Diversity” dilutes the need for representation for people of color, for queer teens and those with exceptionalities. We then devolve into diversities based upon size and
location and handedness and on and on because it’s just too hard to focus on queer, brown, different people. Friends, we have to.
A mediocre cry for diversity will give us a mediocre response: a limited run of a few more books with no real changes inside publishing houses, with authors of certain backgrounds being boxed into writing certain kinds of books (such as Latinos being stuck writing reality fiction) and no books by authors of color
that continually will win the National Book Award or the Newbery.
This movement began over 100 years ago. I’ve been doing this blog since 2006, so I have to bow to those who came before me and are still at it and yea, I even have to bow to those who came in after me who are really getting some things done. There’s room for all because there’s no single story that’s going to get this done. There is, however no room for status quo or mediocrity. We’re at a point in history where so many resources exist to change how books are financed, created and distributed. We’re at a place in time where our children can no longer afford to be left behind. No, not today; not in the information age. Not when it is critical to have the literacy, the power, to maneuver one’s world.
I didn’t get a chance to talk to a lot of people to find out what they’d gotten out of the conference. Will we as bloggers find new ways to collaborate for books and literacy causes? Will some look that much harder for books with characters of color? And, will we be more critical of those writing outside their own experience?
I’m rambling. I thought things would come together for me as I wrote, but they’re not. I think I’m thirsty.
I’ll stop here and add some photos. I hate that I didn’t get any of my co-presenters, they are such amazing and adorable ladies. Next time!