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.

Midwest Conferences

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of presenting with author Ashley Hope Perez at the McConnell Conference in Lexington, KY. I always enjoy this conference and this year was certainly no exception. OK, yes I was disappointed in the lack of diversity, both in terms of presenters and participants, but the librarians who attended did not hesitate in asking for titles for their students and patrons of color and in engaging in library and literary conversations. Yes, it was good to be part of the conversation about young adult lit.

No doubt, attending conferences is expensive! Living here in the Midwest, I don’t often have the opportunity to enter the varied discussions about young adult literature that take occur in places like New York and Los Angeles, but there are some more local opportunities that provide relevant opportunities.

If you’re an author, librarian or teacher in the Midwest who is looking for nearby conferences, I have the following.

(No, I don’t live anywhere Mexico City. IBBY is just the one I really want to attend.)

Northern Illinois University Children’s Literature Conference 15 March Tom Angleberger, Lisa Yee and David Lubar

Kent State University’s Virginia Hamilton Conference 4&5 April Angela Johnson, Gary Schmidt and Yuyi Morales

Children’s Literature Association Conference Biloxi MS 13-15 June

ALA Annual Chicago 27 June-2 July

Children and Young People’s Division of the Indiana Library Federation   Indianapolis  25-26 August

Indiana State Reading Association Fall Conference 29-30 September  Linda Hoyt, Cris Tovani, Barry Lane, David Greenberg

IBBY Regional Conference St. Louis, MO 18-20 October

Ohio Kentucky Indiana Children’s Literature Conference 2 Nov Candace Fleming and Steve Jenkins

IBBY Mexico 10-14 September 2014





ALAN 2012

I had high expectations for ALAN because I had such a fantastic time last year. I wasn’t so sure as things began. Things began to feel so different from last year! I wasn’t ever excited about the idea of Vegas for a YAlit conference and even more so after getting here. The overpowering smell in the lobby made me sick and the walk to the convention center was too long and unnecessary. Once over there, the only amenities available were the restrooms.

I didn’t like my box of books, too much gore and romance. Too much centered on death. I had to ask myself why it’s so much easier for white readers to embrace books about serial killers rather than those by or about people of color.

I was so disappointed to see fewer than a dozen people of color in the audience and it seemed that even fewer authors were there as well.

I didn’t see anyone I knew and wasn’t connecting with anyone on Twitter. But then, @YABookBridges , someone I’d tweeted with since the last ALAN, contacted me to meet up for lunch and it was nothing but uphill from there.

I had so many wonderful encounters with authors! Because of this blog, those I connect with most are authors of color, however please do not think that I was not impressed to be in the same room with Lois Lowry, Sonya Sones, Blue Balliett, Anita Silvey and Lauren Myracle. Yes, I continue to be impressed by the strong presence of the many voices created for young women in YA, this year particularly through Raina Telgemeier and Faith Erin Hicks. I want to be more like Patricia McCormick, Deborah Ellis and Eric Walters. Sure, it would be wonderful to be able to tell other’s stories with such eloquence, but I’d settle with having their drive to make a difference.

Mike Mullin and Isamu Fukui spoke about empowering students to become writers by letting them write whatever they want. And, that’s what someone did for Gaby Rodriguez. Through her senior project, she went from being a young girl who was afraid she’d never amount to being anything to being a young woman so in control of her own destiny that she became an inspiration for others.

Interestingly, the most diverse panel was “Dystopia” with Isamu Fukui, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Mike Mullin and Marie Lu. I had to smile when Johnson said her book was inspired by Bahia, Brasil because my blog banner is from a quilt shop there.  I did get a copy of her book and plan to review it and hopefully interview her soon.

Sharon Flake was there when the announcement was made that Pinned made it to Kirkus’ Best Children’s Books of 2012 list.

My first breakout session explored the literary aesthetic in Indian, Black and Latino literature was… interesting. My mind couldn’t get much past hearing someone say she was going to describe the aesthetics of Black literature having no had no personal with the culture, but having read one article.

I could have listened to Ann Angel, J.L. Powers and Varian Johnson for hours more. They come from places of authentic interactions with people who are culturally different from themselves but they see and dwell in the similarities. They write to overcome barriers. For Powers, its in stories of war, for Angel its biographic narratives and for Johnson, its sexuality. It was all about social justice.

I’m still in Vegas doing the tourist thing!

This past year, I’ve noted a rapid decline in the number of books published by YA authors of color while the number of YA books in general is increasing. Few people of color attended this conference and indeed the number of POC authors was down as well. What is happening? How do we keep our voice in the mix?

I did have a great time at ALAN and my mind is exploding with ideas of what I want to do next. I went to Vegas alone and came back with so many new friends, new books and new ideas! It’s all about who did show up.

Early Registration Deadline Extended

The deadline for the 2012 Joint Conference of Librarians of Color (JCLC) has been extended to 11 July.

with  Gathering at the Waters: Celebrating Stories Embracing Communities as its theme, the JCLC is designed for librarians, library staff, supporters, trustees and community participants to explore issues of diversity in libraries and how they affect the ethnic communities who use our services. The four-day conference will include dynamic pre-conferences, opening and closing sessions with well-known speakers, author luncheons, skill building workshops, research based panels, interactive and varied programs, exciting exhibits, special events, and networking opportunities.

JCLC provides an opportunity to:

▪ Develop leaders and staff ▪ Experience exciting author talks and dynamic keynote speakers ▪ Compare different strategies for creating institutional change ▪ Sharpen and expand understanding and analysis of diversity in the profession ▪ Strategize on how to serve diverse and changing communities ▪ Share stories and experiences ▪ Build relationships with other librarians and organizations ▪ Have fun!

Program Tracks

  • Advocacy, Outreach and Collaboration

  • Collections, Programs and Services

  • Deep Diversity and Cultural Exchange
  • Leadership, Management and Organizational Development
  • Technology and Innovation