Sunday Morning Reads

Perhaps today’s post is going to be an uncomfortable one, but in opening up conversations about money and finances with my friends and family, I’ve found a mutually beneficial exchange of ideas. Discomfort is a sign of growth.

We usually think of money and finances when we think of economics, but this science is actually the study of decision making. Money and finances often influences our decisions, don’t they? It has for me!

At the end of last year I was fortunate enough to be invited to make several presentations. While may of the organizations that invited me to present were able to provide me with a small stipend, I never had all my expenses covered and as a result, I’ll be paying off credit cards for the next couple of months. Sure, I could have said ‘no’ but, what would have been the cost of doing that? As a pre-tenure faculty member, these opportunities to grow the perception of me as an expert in my field are critical.

I wish I could wholeheartedly say my message was critical, too. I think I refrain from saying that not because I think I’m a completely ineffective speaker but, because I think I’ve strayed from my message. This blog has been the core of my platform and it is where I work to promote Native Americans, authors of color and their works. It’s also where I promote literacy for marginalized teens. White authors are not my focus. Sure, I’ll occasionally do a critical review of something written by other authors, but there has consistently been so little attention given to marginalized authors that I want to keep that focus.

I can’t say I have an audience in mind when I write. I can remember after a couple of years of blogging, I was surprised to get responses from teens when I reviewed books they were reading. And, I’m even more surprised when faculty members tell me they use this blog in their classes. I realize I have a variety of readers and the best thing I can do for them all is to stay focused and to stay true.

I’ve declined several opportunities already this year because I don’t want to talk to white authors about what they can and should write. From my perspective, white authors who embrace decolonization will work to insure opportunities for WOC/NA but those lost in the marketing concept of diversity will be stuck trying to understand how to write The Other.

I have to admit that finances did play a role in leading me realize that I too was caught up on the marketing of diversity. I hae to admit that finances played a huge role in bringing me to this awareness.

Which leads me to the presentations and conferences.

I recently posted on FB about the high cost associated with a conference at which I’ll be presenting later this year ($299 registration fee). This is an ALA affiliate conference. Friends, librarians like to conference! The American Library Association (ALA) has two conferences each year. Each of their divisions has a conference every year or two as do the ethnic caucuses.  These caucuses come together to hold a joint conference every 5 years. There are also state and regional library conferences. Librarians also find ourselves at literacy and reading conferences at the national, state and local levels, children’s literacy conferences and even education related conferences. I attended ALA MidWinter in January and spent over $1000 for travel, registration and lodging )for that one event. Librarians are not particularly well paid professionals.

But I digress! I posted about the high cost of an upcoming conference and generated a rather robust conversation on FB among librarians, academics and authors who are caught in this money pit. We need the conferences because they allow for exchange of information, networking (which is not the same as online networking), committee meetings, validation and rejuvenation. And conferences allow those of us in the hinterland to connect with a NYC focused industry. But at what cost? There are numerous externalities to conference attendance, but money remains a major opportunity cost.

Some authors are sponsored by their publishers and some librarians are sponsoring by their libraries. Public and academic librarians often have a pool of money that is shared among all librarians. School librarians! School librarians have to worry about release time, finding substitutes and getting financial support.

Self-published authors, who really need to be in the conference where it happens, are among those who can least afford these opportunities. Publishers use conferences as a marketing tool and rather than purchasing ad space in major media outlets, they rely heavily on the use the panels and exhibition halls to advertise their goods.

They also rely upon book reviews which have systematically excluded self-published authors. Thanks goodness Zara Rix ( ) at Booklist is trying to open doors for inde presses and authors by reviewing their books for Booklist.

As a result of these costs people who are much better at it than me find themselves strategically selecting where to make their investment. When does attending one more conference make a difference? How do we measure the return on our investment?  Are the organizations who sponsor these events working to promote our profession? I have to say too many kidlit related conferences seem more concerned about promoting books and authors than addressing issues relating to librarianship, the art and science of literature or to literacy. It’s incumbent upon us to see beyond the conference and examine the mission and actions of the association behind the event. Find out how well organized the events are and determine how well they align with our purpose. Not all kidlit conferences are the same; some are just too White [exclusive in nature] for me. Yesterday, I read Tweets from a participant at an annual writer’s conference who painfully and critically examined the ways participation by people with disabilities was marginalized by poorly planned accommodations. We will not continue to show up if we are not made to feel welcome.

I love that I’m in a profession that pushes me to learning and evolving. I just have to work to keep finding ways that allow me optimal opportunities to do so.

ALA Youth Media Awards

While there were numerous books, authors and illustrators recognized this past week for their outstanding contribution to children and young adult literature, I’d like to give special recognition to the following authors of color for their contribution to young adult literature. The pressure is on to get the typing correct and not to miss anyone. Please call me out as soon as you spot an error. This is one post I’d like to do with no errors or omissions.

If you missed it before, here’s how the awards work.

While the awards seem more diverse than ever before, don’t let this one year let you think our work is done. Do you see any books by Native American writers here? Watch as I post each month and see how few books continue to be released by authors of color. And, watch for other diversities as well.

In addition to the ALA awards, I have to call your attention to the 2015 Titles for Youth in Custody. These are titles you’re not going to see on many other lists, but many African American and Latin@ readers will devour them. The list contains fiction and nonfiction title while the blog post relates some of the discussion that got the books on the list. Indeed, Ebony Canion’s Left for Dead sounds like a compelling read, but I don’t think I can wait to get my hands on a copy of The Griots of Oakland: Voices from the African American Oral History Project by Angela Beth Zusman. 

What about you? Which of these have you read and enjoyed? Which are you most looking forward to reading?

Alex Awards
“Everything I Never Told You,” by Celeste Ng, published by The Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group LLC, a Penguin Random House Company.

“The Terrorist’s Son: A Story of Choice,” by Zak Ebrahim with Jeff Giles, published by TED Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

“Confessions,” by Kanae Minato, translated by Stephen Snyder, published by Mulholland Books, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Coretta Scott King
“Brown Girl Dreaming,” written by Jacqueline Woodson, published by Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.
Kwame Alexander for “The Crossover,” published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing.
Marilyn Nelson for “How I Discovered Poetry,” illustrated by Hadley Hooper and published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Books (USA) LLC.
Kekla Magoon for “How It Went Down,” published by Henry Holt and Company, LLC

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award
“When I Was the Greatest,” written by Jason Reynolds, is the Steptoe winner. The book is published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.

Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement
Deborah D. Taylor is the winner of the Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. The award pays tribute to the quality and magnitude of beloved children’s author Virginia Hamilton.
Taylor’s career in public service began more than 40 years ago with the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, where she is currently coordinator of School and Student Services. Her career has been spent as mentor, educator and literacy advocate for young adults. As an inspiring young adult librarian, leader in national associations and university instructor, she has been distinctly effective in introducing young people and her professional colleagues to the outstanding work of African American authors.

John Newbery Medal
“The Crossover,” written by Kwame Alexander, is the 2015 Newbery Medal winner. The book is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
“Brown Girl Dreaming,” written by Jacqueline Woodson and published by Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Award
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children. The award is administered by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, and presented every two years.
The 2015 winner is Donald Crews, whose award-winning works include “Freight Train,” which was a Caldecott Honor Book in 1979, and “Truck,” a Caldecott Honor Book in 1981. He has been consistently excellent with a wide range of titles, such as “Harbor,” “Parade,” “Shortcut” and “Bigmama’s,” all published by Greenwillow Books.

Margaret A. Edwards Award
The Margaret A. Edwards Award, established in 1988, honors an author, as well as a specific body of his or her work, for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature. The annual award is administered by the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association. and sponsored by School Library Journal magazine.

The 2015 winner is Sharon M. Draper, author of more than 20 books, including: “Tears of a Tiger” (1994), “Forged by Fire” (1997), “Darkness Before Dawn” (2001), “Battle of Jericho” (2004), “Copper Sun” (2006), and “November Blues” (2007), all published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

Arbuthnot Lecturer
The lecturer may be an author, critic, librarian, historian, or teacher of children’s literature, of any country, who shall prepare a paper considered to be a significant contribution to the field of children’s literature. The paper is delivered as a lecture each April, and is subsequently published in Children & Libraries, the journal of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association. The award is administered byALSC.

The 2016 Arbuthnot Lecture will be delivered by Pat Mora. Pioneering author and literacy advocate Pat Mora has written more than three dozen books for young people that represent the Mexican American experience.

Michael L. Printz Award
honor book
“This One Summer,” by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, and published by First Second.

Pura Belpé Author Award
“I Lived on Butterfly Hill” by Marjorie Agosín, illustrated by Lee White and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.
“Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes,” written by Juan Felipe Herrera, illustrated by Raúl Colón and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

Randoph Caldecott Award
“Viva Frida,” illustrated by Yuyi Morales, written by Yuyi Morales and published by Roaring Brook Press, a Neal Porter Book.

“This One Summer,” illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, written by Mariko Tamaki and published by First Second.

Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal
“Brown Girl Dreaming,” written by Jacqueline Woodson, and published by Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

William C. Morris Award
“Gabi, a Girl in Pieces,” written by Isabel Quintero, is the 2015 Morris Award winner. The book is published by Cinco Puntos Press.

Best Fiction in Young Adults
Top Ten
The Young Elites by Marie Lu. Putnam
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
also on the list
When I was the Greatest by Jason Reynolgs
A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman
How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon, Holt
Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quitero
Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn

Still to come are announcements from the American Indian Library Association and the Asian Pacific American Library Association.

Rap It Up

My original plan was simply to get a pass for the exhibit hall, spend a couple of days at ALA Midwinter in Chicago, and head home. But these were not the best laid plans, as they grew exponentially. I was invited to the ALSC Day of Diversity on Friday, I embraced the opportunity to room with Debbie Reese and also to present at the Ignite Session. (20slides/15 seconds per slide. Topic: “The Kids are Not All White”)

I still wonder what I was doing in the Friday event filled with movers and shakers in kitlit diversity. Selfishly, I’ll claim the day was a personal victory as I was able to make real life connections with people I’ve connected with virtually for years. I met such inspiring people, such ordinary people doing such great things. I’m not going to name drop because I will miss names and I do not want to do that, but if you followed events on Twitter or FB, you’ve seen the photos. I’ll post some that I have to the blog later, too difficult to work that right now.

On a bigger scale? The flaw in any diversity event is that you end up preaching to the choir. Those lacking a social consciousness see it and think it’s not about them. Event organizers assume everyone attending is on the same page, has similar motivations and expectations and we end up beginning the conversation in the middle. My needs often lack profundity; I can be extremely plebian in my approach and I did find satisfaction in the connections I made and quite humbly I have to say the recognition I received. I do often feel like giving up my blog. I don’t feel like I’m making a difference, that I’m just fighting the same old fight again and again. But I met Satia Orange. My word for the year is ‘diligence’ and Satia certainly embodies the spirit of diligence. Satia challenged us not with what we could do to continue the struggle, but what would we do tomorrow? Those of us in that room were called together for a purpose and if all we got out of it was a reminder of why we do what we do, who else is doing it and new ways we can do it, I want to say that’s a good thing. But, lets remember as Violet Harris reminded us, this fight has been going on since the 1847 with the publication of the Anti Slavery Alphabet.

Pat Mora reminded us that this struggle is based on power. We may think we simply want more diverse books for our children to read, but this is a power issue, one of racial power that expresses itself in economics and the control of the stories we tell. Pat Mora, Maya Gonzales and Jasmin Cardenas spoke the words Saturday evening at Reforma’s annual Noche de Cuentos: we all have stories to tell. When those stories are censored, we lose our identity.

Every turn I made in McCormick Center, I ran into someone I had been trying to connect with, trying to make appointments with and there they were. I’ve seized opportunities and am finding new ways to grow. That, I think is what conferencing with others is all about. We can have the best laid plans, but there’s magic in the air. I was able to connect with Readers to Eaters and several academic librarians who work in reference and instruction as I do as well.

So, right now I’m on the train home. There’s a poem I used to know about getting up this morning feeling good and Black. Putting on my black shoes, coming my black hair, opening my door and Lord! White snow.[1,968 Winters by Jackie Early] Let’s keep fighting the good fight. The train whistle is blowing loud and clear. Beware! We’re coming through!

I just finished listening to the ALA Youth Media Awards. Listening?? I was on Twitter! HA!! An amazing array of diverse books (that’s another post!) But don’t be fooled. Don’t let anyone make you think those books were chosen because of their diversity. It doesn’t work that way, not on ALA committees. Those majority white selectors are all about the integrity of the writing. Yes, they may have made a greater effort to find diverse books this year, but the books and authors won because they are outstanding literary achievements.

Monday! Another week filled with possibilities!

Time To Check In


OK, are you going to ALA Midwinter? What do you plan/hope to do while there?

I’ll be there!

I’m at the Day of Diversity on Friday, Presenting an Ignite Session on Saturday, searching the Exhibit Hall for books by authors of color and looking to meet those same authors every chance I get. I’m connecting with old friends, meeting with new friends and hoping to have a fantabulous time. It’s also Restaurant Week in Chicago!

Will you be there?

Ending Out the Year

I know, I know! It’s been a while. Please know that I have no intentions of walking away from this blog. I think promoting literacy for teens of color as well as promoting authors of color and their works is too important. Life sometimes just gets in the way. This is going to be a quick post and it will be my last until well into January. I will post new releases for that month and hope to mention debut authors of color. It would be great if you help me out by taking the time to mention some of them in the comments. I’ve got several authors to interview and even more book reviews to put to paper. I’d like to follow up on some of 2014 debut authors and look at some of the ways YAs are creating and connecting with books. And, I’d like to commit more to self published authors.

January will have me judging the final rounds of young adult non-fiction for the CYBILS. The finalists will be announced soon. I need to update another list on the Birthday Party Pledge. Have you taken the pledge? The pledge is a simple way to act on your commitment to diversity in children’s literature: you simple deciding to give books written by an author of color for children’s birthday presents.

I’ve acted upon my commitment to diversity and social justice by adopting a local classroom. I’m simply donate books to the 3rd grade’s classroom library. In Indiana this is a critical year because 3rd graders are given a crucial literacy test that year. Getting books close to those children will be very important!

Late January will find me in Chicago for ALA Midwinter. In addition to attending sessions and picking up ARCs in the exhibit hall, I’ll be attending and ALSC diversity event and Unknownpresenting during the Ignite Session. My session is “The Kids Are Not All White” and will be presented that Sunday of the conference.

Hmm January is sounding kind of busy! I don’t have any other conferences planned for 2015, so it will all be a surprise to me at this point. 2015 will be the year I buy my domain (no!! I’m not going anywhere!) and get serious with my production of instructional videos. Maybe I’ll even go back to doing book review videos of which there was that one.

The Twinjas are holding it down this month with their second annual Diversity Month celebration. The month is almost over and gives a great opportunity to read back over posts from Maya Gonzales, Hannah Gomez, Zetta Elliott, Justina Ireland, Joseph Bruchac and many, many more.

A special shout out to librarian Amy Cheney who took the time to chase down Fame of Thrones by Amir Abrams (K-Teen). It’s actually the same book as Lights, Love and Lip Gloss and means there was only one book released by an author of color this month. One book.

2014 was a year for me to ‘shine’. As with other Words of the Year that I’ve chose, ‘shine’ gave me new ways to grow and to perceive the world around me. 2015 will challenge me with diligence. While ‘diligence’ can be seen simply as remaining productively faithful to something or someone, it is a seen as a virtue in three of the world’s major religions. In 2015 I will be diligent and I will travel! Whatever 2015 brings your way, I hope it fills you with, peace, love and good books!

REFORMA National Conference

I received the following in an email from REFORMA, The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking.

Are you doing research on the Latino community and its library needs? If so, please consider submitting a proposal to the Fifth REFORMA National Conference. The Call for Proposals is here:!proposals/c4dl

Program Track A: Collections & Resources would be a great place for studies of YA literature for Latinos.

Program Track F: Technology & Innovation would be great for discussing Latino teens and their use of ICTs and media.

If, on the other hand, you want to learn more about serving the Latino community (53 million strong and counting!), consider attending the conference. You can find general information on attending — including information about our FREE preconference — here:

call for proposals: REFORMA

The Call for Proposals to present at the Fifth REFORMA National Conference (RNC5) taking place in San Diego, CA, April 1-4, 2015, is now open! REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking

Please visit the website below to get the information and send your proposals for leading presentations, facilitating breakout sessions, or exhibiting posters. The conference’s theme is “Libraries Without Borders: Creating Our Future”. The 2014 REFORMA National Conference Program Committee will evaluate proposals for relevance to the conference theme, as well as clarity, originality, and timeliness.


Deadline is September 1, 2014.