In Journals and Blogs

A couple of journals that focus on children’s and young adult literature have recently had special editions focused on ‘diversity’. It is good to see such significant coverage given to this topic however, people of color, Native Americans, LGBTQIA people and those with disabilities need to be included in journals, conferences, panels and workshops on all topics, not just diversity.

Diversity Issue: Children and Libraries (Fall, 2015) vol 13 issue 3

Diversity Issue: The ALAN Review (Winter, 2015). vol 42 issue 2
CALL FOR SUBMISSION:Rethinking “Normal” and Embracing Differences

Volume 44: Issue 1 (Fall 2016)
 Submissions due March 1, 2016
“To be careful with people and with words was a rare and beautiful thing” (Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, p. 324). With these words, Sáenz points to the sacredness of language, particularly as we use that language to build up or tear down those we know—and those we don’t. We use language to discriminate differences and to make sense of and give meaning to our perceptions, but being discriminate can result in unfair judgment—both subtle and overt—when we fail to consider the unique stories of those to whom we assign our assumptions.

In this issue, we invite you to consider how language, woven through story, can invite exploration of difference centered on (dis)ability, sexual identity or orientation, gender, race, nationality, culture, age, and/or physical appearance. How might young adult literature help readers consider their own and others’ uniqueness? How might it challenge deficit perspectives of the other that are too often forwarded by the dominant narrative? What difficulties result from such attempts at engagement in educational settings? How can we help adolescent readers understand that “[A] person is so much more than the name of a diagnosis on a chart” (Sharon M. Draper, Out of My Mind, p. 23) and ask themselves, as they grow up in a labels-oriented world: “You’re going to spend more time with yourself than with anyone else in your life. You want to spend that whole time fighting who you are?” (Alex Sanchez, The God Box, p. 139)?

As always, we also welcome submissions focused on any aspect of young adult literature not directly connected to this theme. All submissions may be sent to alan-review@uconn.edu. Please see the LAN website (http://www.alan-ya.org/page/alan-review-author-guidelines) for submission guidelines.

Although, focusing on voting, he fall edition of Teaching Tolerance contains a couple of important articles on diversity ranging from a teaching talking candidly about racial equality to about a wheelchair bound Kenyan who works to beautify the world to an article that rewrites Native Americans into American history. It feels odd to write that sentence, to talk about rewriting the First Americans into American history. How odd. The issue also explores colorism and looks at the growth in anti-bias curriculum across the nation. I just received this journal yesterday and was so excited to see the beautiful illustration of a Native American woman reading to a group of children. That illustration is actually based upon a photograph of Debbie Reese.

Reading the articles in these journals will provide educators, writers and even readers ways to talk  more openly across racial lines with readers. Given that the audience of these journals is White, it’s safe to say they were written for white readers. And that’s a good thing because such conversations are long overdue. Sam Bloom, KT Horning, Nina Lindsay, Angie Manfredi, and Megan Schliesman are smart people who know the conversations are overdue. They’ve just begun a new blog, Reading While White: Allies for Racial Diversity and Inclusion in Books For Children and Teens.

Reading While White is intentionally by, about, and for White people who are interested in anti-racist work in the field of children’s literature.  There is no quick fix to racism, which exists on personal, institutional, and societal levels; but by organizing ourselves and working together, I hope that we can start to answer some of these questions.

Definitely worth checking out!

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