Just as I was planning posts to highlight the American Library Association’s Ethnic Caucuses, I received the following via email.

The five ethnic affiliates of the American Library Association have collaborated to officially form the Joint Council of Librarians of Color, Inc.(JCLC Inc.), a nonprofit organization that advocates for and addresses the common needs of the ethnic affiliates.

Coming together through JCLC Inc. are the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA), the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA), the American Indian Library Association (AILA), the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) and REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking. These five organizations each have a decades-long tradition of promoting the library and information needs of their constituent communities through various endeavors, including providing scholarships for students, awarding grants to libraries for cultural programing, acquiring and donating relevant library materials and advising ALA and other professional organizations of constituent concerns.

The newly formed nonprofit follows and takes its name from two successful joint conferences co-sponsored by these organizations; the first held in 2006 in Dallas and the second in 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri. Serving as the first officers for the Joint Council are Dr. Jerome Offord, Jr. as president, Dr. Kenneth Yamashita as vice president, Dora Ho as treasurer, Heather Devine-Hardy as secretary and Isabel Espinal as director at large.

“The JCLC concept was just too powerful not to establish an organization that could keep it going strongly forward,” Offord said. “When our organizations come together as a united front and put our energies and numbers together, we are better able to confront and address certain critical issues. We believe there is great power in this unity.”

JCLC Inc.’s official purpose statement is: “To promote librarianship within communities of color, support literacy and the preservation of history and cultural heritage, collaborate on common issues, and to host the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color every four to five years.”

JCLC Inc. has not yet established its Web presence, but each member organization has a web site where the public can find more information: BCALA (www.bcala.org), CALA (http://cala-web.org/), APALA (http://www.apalaweb.org/), AILA (http://ailanet.org/) and REFORMA (http://www.reforma.org/).

Passing It Forward

The following is news I’ve received via emails that’s meant to be shared. Please forgive me for simply cutting and pasting. Not only is it quicker, but it allows for fewer typos.

First, a little self promoting: A link to a printable brochure of the We’re the People Summer Reading List.

From the Fabulous Deborah Menkart at TEACHING FOR CHANGE:

Now more than ever, it is important for young people to understand the crucial role that youth, women, ImageProxyand other community members played in organizing for voting rights. Teaching for Change helps students make the connections between past struggles for liberation, current attacks on voting rights, and today’s #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Please give today.

A new project has launched by Sarah Hannah Gomez​, Angie Manfredi, Faythe Arredondo, and Kelly Jensen called Size Acceptance in YA. They’ll be exploring fatness, fatphobia, body image, body objectification, and more in YA lit.

Young Adult LIbrary Services Association (YALSA) needs your help! We’re compiling resources on our wiki to help our members improve their services to diverse teens. If you know of any articles, reports, tools, e-learning, etc. that can help library staff build cultural competence skills and better serve diverse patrons, please share your items on our totally edit-able wiki! The pages are here:

Serving Diverse Teens: http://wikis.ala.org/…/index.php/Serving_Diverse_Teens_@_Yo…
Cultural Competence:http://wikis.ala.org/yalsa/index.php/Cultural_Competence

Along the same lines from YALSA: The U.S. teen population is becoming increasingly diverse, and with it, the communities we serve in our libraries. Join Amita Lonial as she discusses cultural competence in the library: its definition, its impact on behaviors, attitudes, and policies; and how essential it is for library staff to develop these skills in order to serve teens more effectively and work more collaboratively with fellow library staff. 100 seats available to YALSA members only. Register here.

And finally, an interview you won’t want to miss: Sharon Draper at School LIbrary Journal.

June Releases

June release for Middle Grade and Young Adult readers by authors of color.

2013: 7
2014: 5
2015: 9

Trollhunters by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus; Disney-Hyperion
This new 320-page horror novel written by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus is about monsters that move in unseen places and the resurgence of a 45-year-old mystery that threatens the seemingly sleepy city of San Bernardino, CA.

Ink and Ashes by Valynne Maerani; Tu Books
Claire Takata has never known much about her father, who passed away ten years ago. But on the anniversary of his death, she finds a letter from her deceased father to her stepfather. Before now, Claire never had a reason to believe they even knew each other. Struggling to understand why her parents kept this surprising history hidden, Claire combs through anything that might give her information about her father . . . until she discovers that he was a member of the yakuza, a Japanese organized crime syndicate. The discovery opens a door that should have been left closed. The race to outrun her father’s legacy reveals secrets of his past that cast ominous shadows, threatening Claire, her friends and family, her newfound love, and ultimately her life. Winner of Tu Books’ New Visions Award, Ink and Ashes is a fascinating debut novel packed with romance, intrigue, and heart-stopping action. (ages 12 and up)

The Dragon King by A. Yuan; Mithras
Safire has lived within a community of dragons for five years, ever since a band of raiders wiped out her village. When the King of Argrisia declares war on all remaining dragons, her community is forced to flee and she finds herself traveling with a small band of warriors to seek an oracle. Each of the five companions has their own secrets, which are revealed one by one as they travel. Safire finds that she is a changeling and has already developed the ability to transform into a dragon at will. When they reach the oracle, Safire is told that she may play a role in bringing the burgeoning conflict between dragons and humans to a peaceful conclusion. But her first step will be convincing her companions she can still be trusted in spite of her frightening abilities. Over the course of their journey to the dragon king’s mountain home on the orders of the oracle, all five travelers become united in their desire to see peace restored in the Midlands. But even peace will require sacrifice. 9ages 14 and up)

Make it Messy by Marcus Samuelsson and Veronica Chambers; Delacorte
Marcus Samuelsson’s life and his journey to the top of the food world have been anything but typical. Orphaned in Ethiopia, he was adopted by a loving couple in Sweden, where his new grandmother taught him to cook and inspired in him a lifelong passion for food. In time, that passion would lead him to train and cook in some of the finest, most demanding kitchens in Europe. Samuelsson’s talent and ambition eventually led him to fulfill his dream of opening his own restaurant in New York City: Red Rooster Harlem, a highly acclaimed, multicultural dining room, where presidents rub elbows with jazz musicians, aspiring artists, and bus drivers. A place where anyone can feel at home. (ages 12 and up)

Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older; Arthur A. Levine
Sierra Santiago planned an easy summer of making art and hanging out with her friends. But then a corpse crashes the first party of the season. Her stroke-ridden grandfather starts apologizing over and over. And when the murals in her neighborhood begin to weep real tears… Well, something more sinister than the usual Brooklyn ruckus is going on. With the help of a fellow artist named Robbie, Sierra discovers shadowshaping, a thrilling magic that infuses ancestral spirits into paintings, music, and stories. But someone is killing the shadowshapers one by one — and the killer believes Sierra is hiding their greatest secret. Now she must unravel her family’s past, take down the killer in the present, and save the future of shadowshaping for generations to come.
Full of a joyful, defiant spirit and writing as luscious as a Brooklyn summer night, Shadowshaper introduces a heroine and magic unlike anything else in fantasy fiction, and marks the YA debut of a bold new voice.

Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn; St. Martin’s Griffin
When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.
Emerson Tate’s a poor boy living in a rich town, with his widowed mother and strange, haunted little brother. All he wants his senior year is to play basketball and make something happen with the girl of his dreams. That’s why Emerson’s not happy Sadie’s back. An old childhood friend, she knows his worst secrets. The things he longs to forget. The things she won’t ever let him.
Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That’s what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past. (ages 14-18)

Rid wit’ Me Part 2 by Joy Deja King; A King Production Presents A Young Diamond Book
The Romeo and Juliet of the streets are back in Ride Wit’ Me part 2. Mercedes and Dalvin are fighting to keep their love intact and make it down the isle. Will the two lovebirds be able to overcome their obstacles and finally become husband and wife? Find out in this next installment.

Dork Diaries 9: Tales From A Not So Dorky Drama Queen by Rachel Renée Russell; Aladdin
Nikki’s diary is up to the month of April, and springtime is sure to bring more wacky adventures with Nikki and her friends Chloe, Zoey, and Brandon! (ages 9-13)

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera; Soho Teen
The Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-relief procedure seems too good to be true to Aaron Soto — miracle cure-alls don’t tend to pop up in the Bronx projects. But Aaron can’t forget how he’s grown up poor or how his friends aren’t always there for him. Like after his father committed suicide in their one bedroom apartment. Aaron has the support of his patient girlfriend, if not necessarily his distant brother and overworked mother, but it’s not enough.
Then Thomas shows up. He has a sweet movie-watching setup on his roof, and he doesn’t mind Aaron’s obsession with a popular fantasy series. There are nicknames, inside jokes. Most importantly, Thomas doesn’t mind talking about Aaron’s past. But Aaron’s newfound happiness isn’t welcome on his block. Since he’s can’t stay away from Thomas or suddenly stop being gay, Aaron must turn to Leteo to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he is. (ages 12-18)


Pulling Up to the Table

Another Book Expo America and Book Con ended this past weekend. Last year’s brouhaha that resulted in the formation of WeNeedDiverseBooks resulted this year in BEA providing WNDB the opportunity to create their own panel for the event. It was energizing to see the tweets and facebook books from the authors, illustrators and publishers excited to be in the mix and I once again kicked myself for a very poorly time visit the previous weekend to NYC. Being allowed to create a panel is being provided a token from the 1%. Where is the opportunity to truly make a difference in what is being published for our children?

BEA has no mission statement that I found that recognizes a responsibility for diversity, literacy or any other social justice issue. it is simply an event to promote the sale of books. At the same tome, they do see the benefit of incorporating global markets in the annual exhibition.

BEA is the largest annual book fair in the US. It is always held at the same time of the year in a major US city and over the past few years, has gone back and forth between Chicago and New York City. In 2016, the event moves back to Chicago. Major US book publishers use the fair to showcase upcoming titles, sell current books, socialize with colleagues from other publishing houses, with librians and authors and to sell and buy subsidiary rights and international rights.

(source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BookExpo_America)

BEA has an all White Advisory Board. While they pull from executive levels of publishing which are majority white, it would not be difficult to find people of color or with disabilities without creating an affirmative action seat at the table by simply recruiting members from other libraries, journals or publishing houses. Even looking at the Blogger Directory gives me pause. I’m very glad to see Girls in Capes on the list, but I’m really not familiar with any of the other blogs and question how diverse their reading selections are. I say that knowing that bloggers can often do read broad and wide and can be great places to introduce readers to books outside their norm, I just don’t know how many of these do that. We’re still in a place where diversity is spoken about from members of the choir. Rarely to all White congregations recognize the lack of Brown. It has to be pointed out, noticed and made into an issue of concern and in America, it’s an issue when it affects the corparte bottom line.

And what about those executives in publishing? Jason Low is ambitiously working to document the numbers of people of color.

Last week our company launched a petition pushing for more staff transparency in publishing. Forgive me if some of you are already aware of this, but this endeavor has grown into quite a challenge to personally reach out to everyone to get them involved. As it stands, we have 5 major reviewers and 15 publishers onboard, and over 500 signed supporters. It takes literally less than 2 minutes to sign the petition and another minute to pass this along to fellow diversity advocates you know. We appreciate any and all help you can offer to this important project. 

Here’s the link: https://www.change.org/p/book-publishers-and-review-journals-help-increase-diversity-in-books-by-asking-publishers-to-be-transparent-about-staff-diversity

Here are the journals and publishers that have so far agreed to participate:

Review Journals
Horn Book
Kirkus Reviews
Library Journal
School Library Journal

Albert Whitman
Annick Press
Arte Publico Press
Cinco Puntos Press
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
Holiday House
Just Us Books
Lee & Low Books
Peachtree Publishers
Pomelo Books
Sasquatch Books
Second Story Press
Tradewind Books

source: https://www.leeandlow.com/about-us/the-diversity-baseline-survey

It’s interesting that the some of the larger publishers do see a need for diversity, inclusion and social responsibility but are not participating in the project.

Scholastic’s Credo:

Scholastic produces educational materials to assist and inspire students
to cultivate their minds to utmost capacity
to become familiar with our cultural heritage
to strive for excellence in creative expression in all fields of learning, literature and art
to seek effective ways to live a satisfying life
to enlarge students concern for and understanding of today’s world
to help build a society of free of prejudice and hate and dedication to the highest quality of life in community and nation

Source: http://www.scholastic.com/aboutscholastic/credo.htm

Simon and Schuster

Mission Statement

“Seeking diversity in all facets of our business – by valuing our employees and authors for their unique perspectives, and promoting tolerance and understanding in the workplace – are the best ways for Simon & Schuster to fulfill its publishing mission for today’s increasingly diverse readership.”

— Carolyn Reidy, President & CEO

Diversity Councils at Simon & Schuster
The focus of the Diversity Councils is to foster a positive and inclusive work environment. It is our goal that Simon & Schuster becomes an
Employer of Choice, so that both prospective employees and authors of varied backgrounds will be attracted to Simon & Schuster and view the company as a superior publisher of quality books.

The Councils are comprised f employees from all divisions and levels of the organization, which supports the efforts of the company to develop an inclusive, respectful, and effective cross-cultural workplace. Each council member serves on a core committee and meet regularly to focus on the following initiatives:

Staffing, Retention and Career Development
Community Involvement
Diversity Events
Workplace Diversity Awareness
See more at: http://www.simonandschuster.biz/careers/diversity#sthash.tC0RciWF.dpuf
Source: http://www.simonandschuster.biz/careers/diversity
Penguin Random House

As the world’s first truly global consumer publishing company, Penguin Random House is committed to editorial excellence and long-term investment in creative and diverse content. With our broad range of more than 250 editorially independent publishing imprints, we provide readers with unparalleled literary choices. Penguin Random House works tirelessly to protect our authors’ intellectual freedom and properties, while giving them access to support and resources that help their works reach readers around the world. Additionally, we support legislation, initiatives, and organizations such as Poets & Writers and PEN that champion writing, freedom of expression, and cultural diversity.

Source: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/about-us/corporate-responsibility/

If you can’t get a seat at the table, you do like Cheryl and Wade Hudson who have been fighting this good fight for YEARS. They’ve taken control of their own message by creating Just Us Books, a company that for 30 years has published books that reflect African American history and heritage. But, they don’t stop there. They show up at events to remain a presence for people of color in the larger publisher sphere. This past weekend, they presented and/or hosted several panels which placed diversity on forefront. Cheryl Hudson post links to videos of several of the sessions on her FB page.

For too many, diversity has become the cause de jour. Too many of us do not want to whisper. We want our lives, our stories and our dreams to be as American as we already believe our lives to be. We want to breathe.

Board Books for Big Kids?

You bet, board books can be for big kids! Especially if the book is A IS FOR ACTIVIST. This book introduces numerous concepts important in building critical literacy skills in our students. As this video indicates, it’s never too soon to introduce the power of active citizens, but it’s also never too late. Challenge older readers to incorporate these terms as they discuss historical or current events. Have them create visual essays for the words or simply discuss how a particular concept affects their family.

book review: Black Sheep by Na’ima Robert

+-+923471173_70Title: Black Sheep
Author: Na’ima Bint Robert
Date: Francis Lincoln Ltd.; 2013
Main Character: Dwayne Kingston

In trying to classify Black Sheep, I think I’d have to label it both ‘urban fiction’ and ‘religious fiction’. Dwayne Kingston is having trouble at school because it just isn’t relevant to him. He has more fun, gains more power and makes more money out in the streets with his crew. They’ve always terrorized the neighborhood and sold drugs, but when Dwayne meets Misha, a posh girl from uptown, he begins to see the world through new lenses. At the same time, one of his crew, Tony, becomes Muslim and changes his entire behavior. We see both Tony and Misha having an affect on Dwayne, but we also sense that his stubbornness is going to lead to a disastrous outcome. Dwayne’s not a kid anymore and he has to make some important decisions about his life. Black Sheep was originally published in Great Britain and retains more British English that most books I’ve read that originate from there. I’d really like to know why the editor didn’t change some of the British dialect because it does make reading the story choppy.

I believe religious novels are difficult to write. By their nature, they have to be upbeat, true to the faith their reflecting and they have to provide a lot of faith based information without being didactic. Honestly, on those accounts I believe Robert more than succeeded. Rather than giving young readers a hokey story where everything is good, she packs Dwayne’s life full of road blocks and dead ends. His options seem limited until he finds something greater than himself. We know that Islam will save Dwayne, that’s the point of the story but, it needs to be believable to be good.

Robert has a lot going on in this story, almost too much. Misha has the second narrative voice but her character is more of a prop for Dwayne. Dwayne has a younger brother who idolizes him, but the relationship is not developed. There are parental issues, school issues, a misunderstanding of the radicalism of Islam, Dwayne’s DJing gigs, class issues and power struggles between gangs. Young readers looking for a romance with a male lead, or searching for life’s larger meanings may enjoy this as it is a change from most urban dramas. Unfortunately, it’s not a solid read.

Na,ima B. Robert’s other young adult novels include From Somalia With Love, Boy vs. Girl and Far From Home. She was a finalist for Published Writer of the Year at the Brit Writers Awards 2012.