This n That

If you are a YALSA member I’m on the ballot to be on the Printz Committee and I’d appreciate your vote.

IF you are an ALSC member, please consider voting for Angie Manfredi, Sujei Lugo and Thaddeus Andrecki (both of whom have ended up at the bottom of the list). These individuals are as committed to diversity as they are to literature and children. I’m voting for them!


This new release from J. K. Rowlings…

Excited about J. K. Rowling’s newest release, are you? Loved that Harry Potter and want to read whatever she writes next? Well, not so fast there! Rowling’s latest, History of Magic in North America is replete with Native American cultural misappropriations. In her latest writing, Rowlings has taken elements of “Native American” culture (I have to put that in quotes because that’s pretty much the same as saying “African” culture. Like each African nation has it’s own culture, so does each Native American nation) whether based in fact or fiction and represented them as truth. N.K. Jemison describes her offensiveness.

It’s even more crucial for religions that are alive, and whose adherents still suffer for misconceptions and misappropriations. But these are easier to research, and it’s often much easier to figure out when you’re about to put a foot right into a morass of discrimination and objectification. All the evidence is there, sometimes still wet with blood. You just need to read. You just need to ask people. You just need to think. – See more at:

Debbie Reese has been curating Native responses to Rowlings offenses. Take the time to read one, two or all of them. The offense runs deep.

By repurposing Indigenous legends to which she has no claim, Rowling silences the voices of those from whom she steals, and gaslights yet another generation. Not intentionally, but simply by drowning them out in her wake as she sails into her enchanting New World. Read more from Aaron Paquette at

I’ve never flat our rejected a book without reading it. Never. But, this one I reject on It’s premise.

That new list from In the Margins…

In the Margins Book Award and Selection Committee (ITM), a committee under the umbrella of Library Services for Youth in Custody (LYSC) is committed to promoting and highlighting diverse books and voices that have been in the margins. ITM strives to find the best books for teens living in poverty, on the streets, in custody – or a cycle of all three. ITM just announced their 2016 Award winners and they’re listed below.

In the Margins Top Fiction Award, 2016: Tattooed Teardrops by P.D. Workman.

In the Margins Top Non-Fiction Award, 2016:  America’s Massacre: The Audacity of Despair and a Message of Hope by Tewhan Butler.

Social Justice/Advocacy Award Winner: Girls in Justice by Richard Ross.

In the Margins Official 2016 Top Ten List

Butler, Tewhan. America’s Massacre: The Audacity of Despair and a Message of Hope. Raise UP Media. October 2014. PB $19.99. ISBN 9780692281826.

Carter, Alton. The Boy Who Carried Bricks: A True Story of Survival. Roadrunner Press. March 2014. 196p. HC $18.95. ISBN 9781937054342.

Deutch, Kevin. The Triangle: A Year on the Ground with New York’s Blood and Crips. Lyons Press. December 2014. 214p. PB $16.95. ISBN 9781493007608.

Frank, E.R. Dime. Simon Teen. May 2015. 336p. HC $17.99. ISBN 9781481431606.

Kern, Peggy. Little Peach. Balzer + Bray. March 2015. 208p. HC $17.99. ISBN 9780062266958.

Laboucane-Benson, Patti. The Outside Circle. House of Anansi Press. June 2015. 264p. PB $19.95. ISBN 9781770899377.

Lewis, Tony Jr. Slugg: A Boy’s Life in the Age of Mass Incarceration. Hanover Place Press. July 2015. 166p. PB $9.99.

Ross, Richard. Girls in Justice. The Image of Justice. 2015. 192p. HC $29.95. ISBN 9780985510619.

Voloj, Julian. Ghetto Brother: Warrior to Peacemaker. NBM Publishing. May 2015. 128p. PB $12.99. ISBN 9781561639489.

Workman, P.D. Tattooed Teardrops. PD Workman. August 2014. 292p. PB $15.95. ISBN 9780993768750.

Annotations, the full list and further information on the committee and selections can be found at:
The 2016 Committee members are:

  • Sabrina Carnesi, School Librarian, Crittenden Middle School, VA
  • Amy Cheney, District Library Manager, Oakland Unified School District, CA
  • Dale Clark, Teacher-Librarian, Fraser Park Secondary, Burnaby Youth Custody Services, Burnaby, BC, Canada
  • Joe Coyle, Project Coordinator, Mix IT Up!, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL
  • Marvin DeBose Sr., Library Supervisor, Free Library of Philadelphia, PA
  • Lisa Goldstein, Division Manager, Central Youth Wing, Brooklyn Public Library, NY
  • Sian Marshall, Head of Teen Services, Oxford Public Library, Oxford Michigan
  • Maggie Novario, Teen Librarian, Fort Vancouver Regional Library District, WA
  • Kerry Sutherland, Youth Services Librarian, Akron-Summit County Public Library, OH

Thanks to you all for creating such an important list.


We’re firmly in the month of March. Keep coming back here because I will post the March releases by authors of color before the month ends. I promise. February was filled with Writers on Writing and reviews of sources on enslavement. March may be quieter because of offline responsibilities but, I do hope to review some older, classic YA books by Native and women of color as my tribute to Women’s History Month. And, we’ll be releasing the We’re the People Summer Reading List.

February found folks around the web using #StepUpScholastic to  following up on StepUpScholasticV4-300x278Scholastic’s access to our children.  The campaign was announced here on the Ferguson Response blog and it went even more public on 29 Feb when Leslie Mac held the #StepUpScholastic Twitter chat. She’s archived it here.The goals of the campaign are simple, encourage children & adults to critique current offerings from Scholastic and ensure that Scholastic hears their voices in this call for substantive change.” We are asked to engage in the program in the following ways.

Debbie Reese sets an example of being proactive in the #StepUpScholastic campaign.

I’m sure you’ve heard that ‘she who controls the pen controls the history’? Be vigilant. Keep learning about the massive reach of Scholastic and of textbooks companies. Read the books, know who writes the text and sits on the boards that create the books. Understand the huge role Texas plays in what appears in textbooks and be fearful of people like Mary Loy Bruner who is running for a seat on the Texas board of Education.

On the Civil War, she wrote in 2014: “Slavery is not the Reason for the Civil War. by [sic] Mary Lou Bruner…. Historians waited until all of the people who were alive during the Civil War and the Restoration were dead of old age. THEN HISTORIANS WROTE THE HISTORY BOOKS TO TELL THE STORY THE WAY THEY WANTED IT TOLD.”

source: The Washington Post

This rewriting of history isn’t just in America and it’s not only in children’s books. Japan for years has been re-writing its interactions with Korea during World War Two.

But, it’s the power of independent voices that are getting the true story out there.

Independent voices like Leslie Mac and Deborah Menkart whose only vested interest is in our children.

Independent voices that used crowdsource funding to create and release a movie about the comfort women that has climbed to lead the box office in Korea.

Independent voices like those featured in Amy Martin’s new column in School Library Journal that features indie children’s authors.

School Library Journal also recently featured an article on how few sight impaired people are learning braille.

Because teachers and students often depend on audio tech, including text-to-speech programs, vision-impaired children aren’t learning the conventions of written language. “He or she might be getting information, but the child isn’t reading,” says Chris Danielsen, director of public relations at the NFB, which provides many resources for braille literacy (learning braille). In the 1970s, more than 50 percent of vision impaired people in the Unites States knew braille. More recently, among the nearly 60,000 U.S. children who are legally blind, only nine percent were registered braille users, according to a 2010 report. Other estimates put the figure at 10 to 12 percent.
source: School Library Journal

Is there another side to this discussion?

Living here in Indiana, I realize the way the publishing world marginalizes those of us who don’t live in NYC. Not only are the major publishing houses, agents and publishers there, but the discussions take place there as well. Sure, there’s a small pocket centered around Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles, but it pales in comparison. I like how Padma Venkatraman used the power of the Internet to overcome geographic barriers and create this important roundtable of voices from South Asia.

Rachna Gilmore: Yes, inasmuch as all authors’ life experiences inform who they are, and influence the values they form, which inevitably shapes their writing. More specifically though, as a brown person of Indian heritage in a white world, I have, of course, experienced racism; both the active, vicious kind, although rarely that, as well as the more patronizing and labeling kind, born of stereotyping. I know much of it is simple misunderstanding and ignorance. It has fueled my desire to write in a way that builds bridges. I strongly feel that it is through fiction that we can cut through boundaries. When we read of characters of cultures that we have perceived of as “strange” or “other”, and when we identify with them through the magic of fiction, and recognize that at the core they are not really that different from us, that is when we start to relate to others simply as people. We drop our stereotyping assumptions and see that our common experiences as human beings are far more profound and real than any superficial differences of skin colour or cultural preferences.

Gilmore’s words make me want to send a shout out to Ellen Oh, #DiversityJedi extraordinaire.

Another important roundtable this past week came from the PEN Equity Project. If you don’t click any other link here, this. This is the one to read. It begins in that place where we stay stuck too long, of recounting the battles and missed opportunities, but it takes the chance to say ‘what if …’ to imagine a way forward.

There is a role for all of us who understand that even if the industry was meant to not be diverse in all of its representations, it cannot stay that way.

Cheryl Klein Imagined setting up classroom libraries. I do that for a classroom here in Terre Haute. Every month I send a collection of books to first grades and I do imagine making this a thing, a foundation that matches more classrooms to donors. You might think the school library is doing or can or should be doing this. Research shows the closer the books are to young readers, the more they will read. Sometimes, libraries just can’t provide books because they have either no librarian to select the books or no funding with which to purchase them. I recently had the pleasure of serving on YALSA’s Great Books Giveaway Committee and was almost in tears while reading librarians describe their profound need for books. Comments from those who received the grant can be found here. The link will also take you to an application for the next grant round.

Isn’t it interesting how much of the heavy lifting for our children’s literacy is done by women? Just look how many women I’ve listed here today. And, in the recent Lee & Low Diversity Baseline Survey, it was documented how many straight white abled-bodied women work in publishing. Lee & Low has been watching the report ripple through the industry and has capture insights here.

I have to leave you with this breathtaking phone of my youngest son from his recent trip cross country to visit his brother. He walked out there and sat on the edge of the world, something I could never, ever do. I catch my breath just thinking about it. Funny, the only place on my Bucket List is the Grand Canyon, but I cannot go to the edge.

Here’s to the generation that will not be limited by our fears.








Guest Post: Enslavement of Native Peoples

The following post is contributed to my series on enslavement from Debbie Reese. Debbie is  tribally enrolled at Nambe Pueblo in northern New Mexico. She is an advocate for diversity in children’s literate and has been blogging for almost ten years at American Indians in Children’s Literature. Here, she discusses the earliest enslavement in the United States.

reeseI’m pleased to contribute this blog post to Edi Campbell. For the month of February, she focused her blog posts on books about slavery. My contribution is a look at the enslavement of Native peoples.

My guess is that a good many of you read “enslavement of Native peoples” and did a double take. You did that with good reason. The enslavement of Native peoples is a part of history that is not taught in school. Some of you might be squinting your eyes and thinking back to something you read… You might then say “Oh, yeah, Squanto! Wasn’t there something about him being kidnapped and sold into slavery?”

The answer to that question is yes. That is why he knew English and could talk to the pilgrims in 1620 when the Mayflower landed. Four years earlier, he was one of over 20 men who were kidnapped by Thomas Hunt (he was captain of one of the ships in John Smith’s expedition) and taken to Malaga, Spain where they were sold.  He managed to get back, but the reason he knew English is usually not included in children’s books about him or about the First Thanksgiving. He was one of thousands of Native peoples who were enslaved.

In recent years, there’s been an increase in attention to Indigenous enslavement. Here’s a few examples.

Allan Gallay, in his 2003 book, The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in the American South 1620-1717, wrote that from 1670 to 1720, more Indigenous people were shipped out of Charleston South Carolina, than Africans who were imported to be enslaved.

In 2014, Jace Weaver’s The Red Atlantic: American Indigenes and the Making of the Modern World, 1000-1927, was published. In it, he writes that 600,000 Native people were taken aboard ships to Europe, to be sold into slavery.

In her 2015 book, Brethren by Nature: New England Indians, Colonists, and Slavery, Margaret Ellen Newell writes about the absence of this history, saying that we know more about the relatively few Euro-American captives among the Indians than we do about the thousands of Native Americans who served European masters in New England. She’s talking about white women like Miriam Willard in Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare, and Mary Jemison in Lois Lenski’s Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison.

Let’s hope that people who write for children and young adults are reading about the enslavement of Native peoples, and that we’ll see books for children that bring this dark history out of the shadows. Let’s also hope that people who write stories about that “First Thanksgiving” give us more information about Squanto, too.

Follow Debbie on Twitter @debreese


I kept waking up to thunder last night and was so happy to see that it had actually rained here! In this drought, we’ve too often gotten thunder and lightning that signified nothing. Icing on the cake will be the 70 degree temps tomorrow! Maybe we shouldn’t have 70 days in August, but we shouldn’t be hotter than New Mexico, either!

So, I’m between having finished and getting started and in a pause that I filled with doing a little reading and needing to do a little posting!

Congratulations to Debbie Reese on receiving the 2012 Blog Award for her blog American Indians in Children’s Literature from WordCraft! Wordcraft Circle is a Native organization founded in 1992 to help aspiring Native writers. Congratulations also to Tim Tingle for winning WorldCraft’s Children Literature award for SaltyPie: A Choctaw journey from darkness to light.

States are beginning to post their nominees for state awards. Indiana’s will be announced in November. It’s important to nominate books to these lists because teachers and librarians use them when purchasing books. From the list of nominees, students across the state will read the books and vote for the best books on the list. Typically, children’s books are separate from YA. What Can’t Wait has just been named one of 20 Georgia Peach Book Award nominees for 2012-2013 .

A book that certainly  needs to be on state reading lists today is Neesha Meminger’s Shine Coconut Moon. From my review

Sam‘s Uncle suddenly comes to visit. He is her mom’s only brother, the brother she walked away from when she left her family to marry the love of her life. Sam‘s mom resented the Indian culture that she felt was stifling her, so she left it behind and never looked back. She raised her daughter to be an all American girl. Sam dressed, talked and acted just like her white friends.

And then her Uncle Sandeep appears. Her turban wearing Sikh uncle in post 9/11 America.

“Bryan Thao Worra, Lao-American writer, poet, and a member of the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), was selected to represent Lao poets in Poetry Parnassus, a weeklong poetry festival held in conjunction with the 2012 Olympics”. source: ALA Direct Congratulations, Bryan!

“Have you registered for JCLC yet? The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) will convene an “All Things Digital” panel at the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color, Sept. 19-23, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo”. source

Whatever weather comes your way, I hope your day is a good one!