I’ve been complaining for the past couple of years about the shrinking numbers of books written by authors of color. The CCBC’s number came out not too longer ago, only to validate this complaint. The number of books by African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos and American Indians has been steadily decreasing since 2008, while the numbers of children of color in this country steadily increases. Zetta Elliott said it better than I can.

Despite this downward trend, Malinda Lo’s numbers indicates that BFYA continues to grow in its ability to embrace all teen readers.

The Feral Librarian speaks to the number of some of the gatekeepers, specifically librarians. Has anyone seen numbers on diversity in the gatekeepers in publishing?

Cynthia Leitich Smith speaks her mind on “Writing, Tonto & The Wise Cracking Minority Sidekick Who is the First to Die”.

My inspiration for this post was a Jan. 17th article in Indian Country Today, reporting that the real “Lone Ranger” was an African American who lived with the Muscogee Creeks and Seminoles. It made me to think about the Hollywood version of the story, about my own stories for young readers, and, in turn, the body of youth literature more globally…

While writers can (and increasingly do) successfully write beyond our own identity markers, life experience does matter, and voices from underrepresented communities should be nurtured, sought out and held up as models.

Cynthia’s mention of the minority sidekick immediately led my mind in two different directions. First, to Knockout Games by G. Neri where in the pages I just read, the main character, Erica (a white girl, red-head) was schooled by Kalvin (a very tall black male) on the realities of characters of color in movies: they’re expendable and die first.

I also thought about one of the best Twitter convos I’ve ever witnessed: #imnotyourasiansidekick

Librarians try to be more inclusive.

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Society of American Archivists (SAA) are now accepting applications for the second cohort of the ARL/SAA Mosaic Program. This program promotes much-needed diversification of the archives and special collections professional workforce by providing financial support, practical work experience, mentoring, career placement assistance, and leadership development to emerging professionals from traditionally underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups. An important objective of the program is to attract and retain individuals who demonstrate excellent potential for scholastic and personal achievement and who manifest a commitment both to the archives and special collections profession and to advancing diversity concerns within it. More information at:

Please, don’t miss my review of Yacqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass! at Latin@s in Kidlit! Have you read this multiple award winner yet?

In a listserv reply, Crystal Brunelle reinforced that the forces that change what’s published in YA, that change anything, occur at the micro level. It’s like what I learned as a classroom teacher. Like many, I became a teacher to make a difference. What I soon realized was that to make a difference, I needed to define my corner of the world and make a difference there. The effects will ripple out. I’m glad you’re reading this blog, but please do some real work to make a real difference.

One of the most important events during BFYA occurs on the Saturdays of the ALA conferences when students who have read the books recommended for the list come to share their opinions. There were two striking comments in Philadelphia. While most of the students commented several times during the afternoon, there was one black girl (and there were very few black students at these events) who only commented on one book. It was one of only two books recommended this year with a  black female protagonist. (Neither made the final list.)

I also noted several students who commented on the authenticity in what they’d read. Students remarked how spot on books set in foreign countries, past decades and even in the future were.

Yes, we have a real responsibility in what we make available to young readers.

I’m going out with an article I’ve just begun reading. Leave your thoughts if you get a chance to read it. Maybe we do a little discussing right here!


Have you ever had a difficult time deciding if you needed a particular food supplement so you closed your eyes, held it in your hands and quietly waited to see if it there was a natural tendency to pull or push it away? You have to close your eyes and let you instincts kick it for it to work.


Doughnuts of choice in Terre Haute are Square Doughnuts

I was watching this new show on the Cooking Network where the contestants compete to see who could prepare the best doughnuts. Three contestants, this week two white males and one black female. She was cute, young and very articulate. You do have to say ‘articulate’ when referring to a person of color who is well spoken, right? I can’t just say she had a soft voice with a cute lilt, right?

When challenged to create Japanese themed doughnuts, I wondered if any of these contestants knew of the surprises found in doughnuts in Japan. It can be anything from shredded fish to egg salad, usually savory rather than sweet. One of the guys came close with his rice stuff concoction but the young lady seemed even closer with a green tea dough. I wondered if she and the other judges had closed their eyes to the contestants and relied solely upon what they saw in the doughnuts how different would the results have been? I noticed that every time the black woman’s doughnuts were presented, thewhite female judge seemed to put an edge in her voice (could I say she was inarticulate?) and felt mean in her criticism of the black woman’s work.

I’m not accusing these people of racism, but am saying race (and gender…) is an issue. After all, I found myself way more focused on the black woman than that of the white males. What if race had been taken out of this instance?

Seeing race not only causes the doughnut to be discounted, but it also keeps the cook out of the surrounding conversations. It keeps the book by Indian authors segregated on that shelf just for Indian authors and in relegates Asian authors to workshops for Asian authors rather than for mystery writers. It’s like this post on Code Switch that discussing how minorities hurt corporations. A portion:

Those social settings tend to be segregated, with whites tending to spend time with whites and blacks with blacks. (The next time you are in an office cafeteria, notice who sits next to whom at lunch.) In a world where ethnic groups cluster together, those in the minority are less likely to share and benefit from spillover effects in the ecosystem and are therefore less likely to learn early on about important company developments or technological innovations.

I can’t just buy the books by the new Malaysian author and stick it on a shelf. It needs to be included with all the other dystopian fictions and book talked with them as well!

Am I talking myself out of blogging for books of color? HA! No, because this is still American and our eyes are not closed. And I know that this blog brings together people of all backgrounds through shared interest.

This week I’m heading to my first Unconference and it will be held at DePauw University. Topic: Information Literacy. I’m working on a couple of great interviews that should post very, very soon!

Next week, it’s Cincinnati and the National African American Librarian Conference where I’ll be presenting with B. A. Binns and David Miller. Today, I’m expecting my sister to drive over so we can go harvest the garden.  I’m expecting okra, cucumbers, tomatoes and perhaps a head of cabbage! In the meantime and between time, I’m still reading BFYA.

Have a great week and try that thing of closing your eyes and trusting your instincts!


I knew earlier this week that I’d be blogging today so, when I work up, my mind was in composition mode. I was so busy thinking about what I would write that the empty plastic water bottle went into the sink rather than the trash and a fork went into the oatmeal. NPR did straighten out my attention for a while when they discussed new information that is being found regarding Emmett Till’s murder. In the grand scheme of things, his brutal murder didn’t occur that long ago. It was during our modern times when information could be easily recorded and distributed. Records from the trial disappeared ages ago and those who witnessed the courtroom scenes are still being sought after to find out what happened in that room. I remember my time down there in the Delta, visiting those historic sites and meeting people who were there then. I’d love to take students down there. One real difference in being an academic library rather than a school librarian is a diminished access to students.

I have to wonder that if things from that time could disappear so easily, now secure is our information today when we’re encouraged to place our images, music and writings in cloud space that it owned by someone else. We argue debate whether to plan new purchases for print books or ebooks as if personal comfort is the key factor. Who owns those ebooks and journal articles (even after we think we’ve purchased them) and how accessible ebooks will be as platforms change over time are things we really need to question. Granted, ebooks do provide greater accessibility to information for those with reading difficulties.

GoogleReader is gone. Other RSS aggregators disappeared as folk turned to GoogleReader and now, it’s disappearing. Soon, iGoogle, a Google homepage that also serves as an aggregator will be gone, too. iGoogle is very similar to MyYahoo, which still functions. I’ve decided to use Feedly to gather my RSS feeds and I’m finding it a bit clunky and it seems I’ve lost some of my favorite blogs. I need to spend some time finding them again, tweaking the site and creating a display that makes sense to me. At the same time, I’m still wondering about WordPress and blogging. Is there future limited? Well, in this day and age, it certainly is, but just how limited and, what next?

Maybe I’d feel better about the lifespan of WordPress if they sold out to Facebook or Amazon. By the way, today is the last day to get a free LibraryThing account if you’re disappointed in the GoodReads takeover. My LibraryThing account is so old that I don’t remember either the username or password! Something else to add to the ‘to do’ list!

The space between ebooks, Google and Amazon has me wondering about the data, both my personal data and that which becomes available to me,  these giants access. As Marc Aronson states  “There are obviously privacy concerns here, concerns about how we are seeing reading (though reading has been collective at other times in its history, indeed one debate among historians of reading is exactly when reading shifted from being primarily oral to primarily silent), and concerns about overvaluing the now.”

Yet and still, basic Internet access remains a critical issue. To the rescue is Connect2Create, a campaign to get major Internet companies to provide discount service, equipment and training to low income families in need. Mindshift writes “The program offers low-cost devices and Internet service, as well as access to digital literacy training programs around the country, hoping to give access to the estimated 100 million Americans who have no broadband connection at home and another 62 million who don’t use the Internet at all.”

Tarie recently share information on the Bangkok Book Awards: ” Each shortlist includes at least one book by a Thai author and one book by an international author, books set in different parts of Thailand, and at least one book in translation from Thai. You can check out the picture book shortlist here.

From Debbie Reese  “Minnesota Public Radio has a story up today that showcases how Heid Erdrich is using video format for her poetry. The video they have up is STUNNING!”

I visit Anali’s First Amendment for things like this single serving cheesecake (I gain weight just from her yummy photos!) but I end up finding this opportunity to teach writing in Ghana. I would so love to do that, even more than the cheesecake!

I’ll be posting April’s new releases by authors of color this week! One book I’ve previously missed is Justin Scott Parr’s Sage Carrington, 8th Grade Science Slueth. Such a cute book!

I hear we’re expecting a snow and rain mix tomorrow. I really hope this slow to warm spring means fewer and milder spring storms.

I hope you enjoy your week ahead!


I didn’t know until last night that the Harbaughs were born in Toledo, Ohio. No wonder they’re so good! (Yes, Toledo is my hometown.)

When the Colts lost early in the playoffs, all my attention turned to the 49ers. You could call me a fair weather fan of the Niners, thanks to my oldest son. I think he has been a fan of the Niners ever since he knew what football was and, when I think back to him as a boy I vision him in his cardinal red and metallic gold coat, hat, scarf, sweatshirt and/or one of many t-shirts that were part of his wardrobe. It may be just a game, and he may be just a fan but his loyalty to that team is mighty impressive. And, because of that I’m rooting for them, too.

Well, I’ll be rooting for them after I attend the Taiwanese New Year celebration on campus. I met a student who is from the town in Taiwan where I used to live and she was kind enough to gift me with a ticket. I’ll be surprising her with a red envelope. My fingers are crossed for beef noodles.

I really can’t believe there are only 6 books by authors of color released this month. I’m really looking forward to the emails and comments telling me of the titles I’ve missed.

14 February is International Book Giving Day

A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy usually posts a comprehensive list of African American non-fiction in February. She recently posted the winners of the American Indian Youth Literature Award.

The Brown Bookshelf’s 28 Days Later is underway. MG/YA authors will include

Feb. 1 – Malaika Rose Stanley (MG)

Feb. 3 – Alaya Dawn Johnson – (YA)

Feb. 5 – Glennette Tilley Turner – (MG)

Feb. 6 – Traci L. Jones – (YA)

Feb. 8 – Brian F. Walker – (YA)

Feb. 9 – Veronica Chambers – (MG)

Feb. 10 – B.A. Binns (YA)

Feb. 12 – Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams – (MG)

Feb. 13 – Octavia Butler – (YA )

Feb. 15 – Lyah Beth LeFlore – (YA)

Feb. 17 – Arna Bontemps – (MG)

Feb. 18 – Jasmine Richards – (MG)

Feb. 21 – Nalo Hopkinson – (YA)

Feb. 24 – Linda Tarrant-Reid – (MG)

Feb. 26 – Chudney Ross – (MG)

Feb. 28 – Jaime Reed – (YA)

Indeed, another impressive list of vanguard, established and new talents!

If you’re looking for a way to get one of these authors to visit your school or library, you might consider the Amber Brown Grant or a Targets Arts Grant.

Have you read Wasafiri? Wasafiri is Wasafiri is a literary magazine at the forefront in mapping new landscapes in contemporary international literature today. The current issue highlights global youth culture.

YALSA is about to make spring committee appointments. If you’re a YALSA member, do think about getting involved! All I did to get begin working with them was to complete an application.

My term with the YALSA’s Best Fiction in Young Adult selection committee officially began today and it begins with the question: How do you define ‘a good book’? I think it would be easier to agree on a definition of a good book than it will be to agree on a good book itself.

Here’s hoping you (and the Niners) have a good week!



Could you take a second to answer this question for me? If you need another option, just leave a comment. Thanks!

It IS Asian Pacific Heritage Month! The Hub is running a nice Asian themed series which began with Cindy Pon and most recently featured Asian themed books. How are you celebrating this month?

One of the main purposes of blogging is to speak what’s on your mind. I don’t expect bloggers to have my same perspective on anything, but if you’re going to put it out there, be willing listen to opinions that may challenge what you say. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, as my mom would say! Recently blogger Jen Doll was criticized for provided an all white listing of outstanding YA  girl characters of color. After much criticism, she paused, reflected and shared this.

I was just this morning reading an interesting post on a library blog that took thoughts from outside the library world and did a very interesting job of applying the principles to how libraries should evolve. Well, until I got to this.

 My take – Celebrate diversityHow interesting it is to read in Kawasaki’s article that “former teachers make the best salespeople because they ask a lot of questions”.  Often times our library patrons forget that those of us working in school libraries are teachers.   With the dual qualification of teacher and librarian, we hold a powerful range of skills to engage and assist.   Don’t lose sight of it!   With the essential support of librarians, library technicians, library assistants and a range of volunteers working hand in hand with teacher librarians, we present our patrons with a very diverse range of talent, knowledge and skill.

 While we all certainly all have diverse views on what diversity is, I found this one to be quite limited. So I posted a response which said something like “I was really enjoying this list until I got to the fourth item. If librarians are not able to see the world outside their own race, religion or sexual preference then they’re limiting their effectiveness. Librarians should open the world to those they serve.”

I say my response was something like that because my response was deleted! The only ones that remained were responses that praised the author for such a nice post. Talk about lacking diversity, about limited perspective! I cannot assume any ethnic or religious identity on this person, but I can clearly see someone who is controlling and limiting what could be a dynamic and engaging conversation. It really felt like the hand of someone who feels rather entitled and maintains a rather limited view of how immensely diverse the work really is.

Then, there’s the issue of deleting comments. I’ve done that quite sparingly. Most notably, when I kept going back and forth with someone who disagreed with me because I didn’t like a book. I’ve also deleted comments when I’ve posted a grant or scholarship and someone thought I was providing the funding. Other than that (and spam), I provide an open mic.

Many librarians, educators, moms… are getting into Pinterest and you probably know I have, too. I’ve seen so many tweets about dynamic ways educators are using Pinterest in the classroom, how libraries are promoting services… so I decided to give it a try. Mind you, I didn’t want to as there’s only so much social networking a girl can do! And we all know that next month there will be one more ‘must have’ site!

So, here’s my critique of Pinterest.

I haven’t read their backstory, so I’m not sure of the creators’ intentions. I don’t get why they require invitations for people to join. It does seem they want members to join based upon relationships on previous sites, specifically Twitter and Facebook. I don’t care for this. I know I’m building a traceable digital footprint, but if you want to know that much about me, then I want to make you work a bit to find things.

Once in the site, it is impossible to search current members unless I know exactly for whom I’m looking. I can only search for FB contacts to add friends.

Pinterest is very easy to figure out. You find something you like and pin/add it to your board/page. You can only add webpages with images on them to your boards and you must say something about what you pin. I can see what others have pinned and I can comment on their boards, but, there is no private messaging.

I found a really useful board that pins products that are sold to support causes.

Here’s the controversial part that I’ve just uncovered. According to the terms of service, individuals are solely responsible for what they pin. So, if I go to HIJKL’s blog and in pinning their current post I select an image that they created, I am liable for copyright infringement, not Pinterest. This bothers a lot of people who like to post artwork, poetry and probably those cute sayings that have become so popular that they annoy me to no end. At the same time, Pinterest doesn’t want people pinning their own work!! Now that, I really don’t understand.

Will I continue pinning? Yes! And I’ll be glad to tell you why!

  • My being there creates a presence for POC YA literature. Sometimes, we just have to show up, you know?
  • My birth children aren’t on there, but my DIL is. I have to admit I don’t know her as well as I wish I did.I’ts hard to get to know her because they live in a different city. Nonetheless, she linked to me and you know what? I now am getting to know her likes and because of that I’ll no longer have to ask my son what I should get her for her birthday.
  • I don’t post other people’s original work. I’m taking part in a great American commercial activity of promoting goods for sale.

This post is growing too long! The weather here is just beautiful! I hope it is where you are, too!


Yolo County Librarian Patty Wong is the 2012 recipient of the American Library Association Equality Award. The annual award, $1,000 and a framed citation of achievement are given to an individual or group for outstanding contributions toward promoting equality in the library profession.

In being selected for the award, Wong was noted for her outstanding efforts in teaching and mentoring students. “As an instructor at the School of Library and Information Science at San Jose State University since 2006, a participant on many Spectrum scholarship committees and a mentor for many students from diverse backgrounds, she reaffirms on a daily basis her commitment to making libraries more diverse and a core part of the communities they serve” said the ALA in a recent  news release .


The Joint Conference of Librarians of Color will begin registration for the 2012 conference,  Celebrating Stories, Embracing Communities on 1 March. The conference will be held 19-23 September in Kansas City, MO.

7 March is World Read Aloud Day. From their website:

 World Read Aloud Day is about taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another, and creates a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education and access to books and technology.

By raising our voices together on this day we show the world’s children that we support their future: that they have the right to read, to write, and to share their words to change the world.

Volunteer to read to a group of students, senior citizens or close friends! Find a community leader or local author to read to your students! Sign up for a Skype visit from an author who will volunteer to read to your students! I am working on plans for my school now and hope to post pics of a great, reading aloud/reading allowed kinda day!

A blanket of clouds lined the sky last Thursday

Speaking of author visits!!! This past Thursday, Ben Davis High School’s Media Specialist extraordinaire Kathy Hicks-Brooks invited me to hear author L. Divine! She even gave me the OK to bring teachers Ms. Preddie St. Claire and Ms. Butler, Language Arts teachers who have come to know Ms. Divine’s Drama High series through their students. Both spoke to me about how well their students relate to Ms. Divine’s books and how hard it is to keep copies of the books in their classroom libraries. While the Drama High books primarily appeals to girl readers, boys looking to read a little romance enjoy the books as well. I’ve even had young men checkout a copy from my library because they were attracted by the young woman on the cover!

Ms. Divine had spent the entire day with at Ben Davis, visiting classes and speaking to groups of students. We met her at a dinner in the evening where she spoke of how much she missed teaching, relaxing with teachers in the lounge and hosting after school activities for students.  She was a storyteller who took us through her time as a grad student, as a teacher who struggled with the concept of ‘attachment theory and as a young woman struggling to be an independent mother and provider and always, as an advocate for the students she served.

Her attachment to her students probably led her

L. Divine at Ben Davis H.S.

to write ‘The Fight’ after one student burst into her classroom to fight another over some boy. This story grew into the Drama High series which currently has readers anxiously waiting for volume 15, Street Soldier. Her passionate presentation energized both students and staff to work together for a productive future.

Unfortunately, Ms. Divine seems to have hit the wall that too many authors of color hit after publishing one or two successful books. With a new series ready to go and no publisher ready to take her on she,  like several other writers of color, is ready to self publish.  As she stated, “it’s the faith in what you’re doing, in what you have to give” that seems to motivate her not only  to work to provide young people with books they want to read but to continue being an advocate for young people who seem to have lost their own voice.

L. Divine was recently featured on the BrownBookshelf’s 28 Days Later.

I’m not one to follow the rich and famous and I’m slow to react when they  die. Stunned by the  sudden loss but then, overcome by the mass amount of grief for someone we really didn’t know, who probably couldn’t have cared less about anyone of us and who well, entertained us. Of course any loss is sad, I’m not heartless. I know there are people who really knew Ms. Houston and are grieving their loss. Their private loss.

24 hour news channels fill with every sensational aspect when stars die and anything else that involves national security, alien invasions or disease outbreaks becomes inconsequential. Rarely do we hear from personal friends, find out about foundations these people supported or even learn about their sense of humor. But, many feel like they’ve lost a friend.

I will probably get caught up in some of the retrospectives, I usually do. And, in doing so, I learn more about this person than I ever knew before, I become more amazed at their talent and I become more keenly aware of the loss of their artistry.

I expect on Monday, a few students will look for books about Whitney Houston in the Media Center. I’ve checked and found that the one book I had disappeared years ago. So, I’ll order a couple of newer books from Amazon so that they can arrive quickly while the students have the interest. I hope it has a lot of good photographs.

I considered watching the Grammys tonight to see Jennifer Hudson and Chaka Khan honor Ms. Houston. Typically, the only reason I watch award shows is because they make nice background sound while I read. Did you know that many artists have planned to boycott the Grammys this year because they’ve elimated award categories such as Latin jazz, contemporary jazz, native American, zydeco, Cajun, classical, Hawaiian, polka, regional Mexican, and world music? I’m sorry, but this just makes me think of Arizona all over again.

All this comes in the middle of February, the middle of Black History Month and American Heart Month. Few do Black History month like the BrownBookshelf. I’m pretty sure that if you read my blog, you already read that one but if you don’t, or if you’ve forgotten, then be sure to visit everyday this month to learn about new children’s and YA authors and illustrators. Today, the featured author is Earl Sewell who I’ve gotten to know through his KimaniTru books.

Tuesday is Valentine’s Day. I used to really detest that day until I realized it wasn’t just a day about romantic love, that it’s about celebrating love!! I send something special to my children and I send cards to all my female friends. I love those women dearly and know my life wouldn’t be nearly as rich without them. So, I take the day to tell them that I love them, something I haven’t always done with my friends.

Tuesday is also International Book Giving Day. What gift shows love more than a book? I mean, to give a book, you have to really know the person you’re giving the book to and take the time to find it. They’re quite personal! In the giving, remember the Birthday Party Pledge and give a book with characters of color to the children you love! Expand their minds! Give them

books about love

How to Salsa in a Sari Dona Sarkar

Huntress Malinda Lo

Graffiti Girl Kelly Parra

Jazz in Love by Neesha Meminger

Dreams of Significant Girls by Cristina Garcia

The Making of Dr. Truelove by Derrick Barnes

We’ll Always Have Summer Jenny Han

books to help them love themselves

Letters to Young Black Men: Advice and Encouragement for a Difficult Journey Daniel Whyte

The Thundering Years: Rituals and Sacred Wisdom for Teens Julie Tallard Johnson

Gringo: A Coming of Age in Latin America by Chesa Boudin

or books about things they love

Vera Wang Queen of Fashion; Amazing Chinese American (Biographies of Amazing Asian Americans) (Biographies of Amazing Asian Americans) Ai-Ling Louie

Beisbol: Latino Baseball Pioneers and LegendsJonah WInter

Yao Ming: The Road to the NBA Chunfei Xiao

Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets under 25 Naomi Shihab Nye

The Rose that Grew from Concrete

Do I like Whitney Houston’s music? O! Yes! I do!! I loved her movies and her incredible voice and am sad in many ways. I definitely intend to restock my Whitney cds which have disappeared over the years and I’ll hold onto that voice as long as I can. Maybe I’ll send my children a book about her for Valentine’s Day.