Tag Archives: diversity

Sunday Select, December 13, 2015

FCLSSQuote of the Week

But in our digital conversion of media (perhaps buttressed by application of the popular KonMari method of decluttering), physical objects have been expunged at a cost. Aside from the disappearance of record crates and CD towers, the loss of print books and periodicals can have significant repercussions on children’s intellectual development.

Perhaps the strongest case for a household full of print books came from a 2014 study published in the sociology journal Social Forces. Researchers measured the impact of the size of home libraries on the reading level of 15-year-old students across 42 nations, controlling for wealth, parents’ education and occupations, gender and the country’s gross national product.

After G.N.P., the quantity of books in one’s home was the most important predictor of reading performance. The greatest effect was seen in libraries of about 100 books, which resulted in approximately 1.5 extra years of grade-level reading performance. (Diminishing returns kick in at about 500 books, which is the equivalent of about 2.2 extra years of education.)


— by Teddy Wayne
from Our (Bare) Shelves, Our Selves
The New York Times

We Need Books

Our (Bare) Shelves, Our Selves by Teddy Wayne – from The New York Times

NATIVE VOICES ROUNDTABLE PART 1: SHARING STORIES & TALKING BACK (PART 1 OF 2)  — from We Need Diverse Books

NATIVE VOICES ROUNDTABLE: SHARING STORIES & TALKING BACK (PART 2 OF 2)  — from We Need Diverse Books

Children’s Authors Share Their Favorite Childhood Books Compiled by Diane Roback — from Publishers Weekly

Horn Book Fanfare 2015  — from The Horn Book Magazine

How Kwame Alexander Gets Teens Reading and Writing Poetry — from School Library Journal

WSJ’s Best Books of 2015  — from Wall Street Journal

In the Works: SLJ’s Battle of the Kids’ Books 2016 Edition by Monida Edinger — from Educating Alice

We Need Ideas and Opinions

An American Refrain by Libba Bray – from Libba Bray’s Blog

Novelists team up for teen book on race and police by James Sullivan — from The Boston Globe

THE N-WORD AND MY DAUGHTER by Martha Haakmat — from Raising Race Conscious Children

I gathered these entries from various sources such as Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and specific sites that I follow such as Educating Alice, Pub Peeps, Book Riot, School Library Journal, The Horn Book, We Need Diverse Books, etc.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Notes, Views, WIWWAK

In the Ring: White Mediocrity vs Non-White Mediocrity

It seems that, within the boxing ring of White Mediocrity vs Non-White Mediocrity, Non-White Mediocrity does not stand a chance. It has always been, and will continue to be, if we don’t keep challenging the status-quo, complete Knock-Outs, round after round.  Hey, sometimes, White Mediocrity even wins against Non-White Excellence. There are even White Lousiness knocking out Non-White Mediocrity at Round ZERO.  (Think of all the unpublished manuscripts by “mediocre” non-white authors vs all the published not-so-good ones by white authors.)

This Boxing Ring imagery popped into my head this morning when I started following the recent facebook/twitter/blogsphere face-offs between YA author, Meg Rosoff, and many others, and especially after reading the words from Camryn Garrett on her blog.  The relevant quoted words are at the end of this post, but I want to first go back and track my own journey from being a harsh harsh critic of “diversity books” to one who considers them very differently on this day in October, 2015.

Recently, in Beijing, I encountered so many outstanding Chinese children’s books and I couldn’t help but ponder: why don’t American children have the opportunities to see these books? Why aren’t these books (many of them short picture books) translated and are made readily available in the United States?

Manager Li, who invited me to review the children’s book output in China, said to me one day, “Our best children’s books are as good as the best American books.” And he is right!  But, there is simply not room for these books on the American market.

Why aren’t there more foreign books available in English to American Children?

To answer this bluntly: because much of the U.S. Children’s Book Market exists to support the livelihood of Proper American Authors. Which is completely reasonable and understandable. American Children’s publishers are American. They should take care of their/our own first.  They should definitely put priority on publishing American authors: outstanding, mediocre, or even not that good.

Scouring major children’s book review publications, one can easily see how many children’s books are considered “unworthy” by critics, but are nevertheless published and promoted by the American Children’s Publishers.  (As to what effects this “taking care of our own talents” has on the worldview of the young readers, that’s a totally different, full length blog post coming your way soon!)

But who are the Proper American Authors and Illustrators?

Whom do American Publishers believe deserving priority and support?  Whom do I believe deserving my priority and support — as a reader, as a reviewer, and as an educator?

I have been a harsh judge of books written by non-white authors, especially Asian American authors. Perhaps because I am Chinese and want to feel, oh, so proud of my Chinese & Asian heritage, that I see mediocrity (or pretty much anything below stellar) as a personal disappointment.  I often point out the issues of in-authenticity or pedestrian literary quality of an OK (or more than OK) book that is actually a much needed addition to the diversity pool.  I absolutely believed that diversity topics needed to be packaged within outstanding, excellent books, otherwise, hmm…they kind of reek of hidden or overt agenda and to me, that was a no-no.

This harsh critic mentality is akin to the wisdom passed down from black parents to their black sons and daughters to “behave 200% more politely, talk 200% more eloquently, and dress 200% better” just to have a chance to be treated equally as their white counterparts.  I wanted every single book by Asian American authors to have not only solid character development, not only well-crafted passages, and not only a great plotline: I NEEDED them to be stellar in every possible way and all aspects! Because, how else could we convince the world of our worth?

Recently, I began to wonder, to doubt my former convictions.

I have noticed that any flaw belonging to an underrepresented group is often enlarged ten folds and is seen as evidence of the shortcomings of the entire group; while the flaws found among the protective multiplicity of the dominant/majority group are often made less significant and almost never viewed as the weaknesses of the entire group.  Perhaps this was why I thought that it’s totally all right for the many pedestrian, mediocre, and sometimes even downright bad “majority books” to take up precious space of the marketplace?

But not any more.  And especially not after reading these words from Camryn Garrett on her blog: For All the Girls Who Are Half Monster:

White mediocrity: This is more of a concept, but I’m happy to explain. While there are white authors who are amazing and fantastic and produce great works, there are also white authors who…are just okay. Or even bad. But they’re celebrated and given awards and praise for being mediocre.

Meanwhile, people of color are held to actual standards (that sounds rude, but whatever.) They have to work to be good, and sometimes that isn’t enough. Basically, white authors can get on the NYT Bestseller List for being “okay.” A Hispanic author has to be “fantastic” to get the same thing. White authors have to be “fantastic” to win a National Book Award. Black authors have to be “outstanding” to be considered.

I didn’t want to start any fight – not in the Boxing Ring, literal or metaphorical.  But, at the same time, things must be said, and concepts must be challenged. Let the conversation continue!

13 Comments

Filed under Views, WIWWAK

Sunday Select, September 27, 2015

FCLSSQuote of the Week

Are you ready for a revolution?
As an African-American librarian, I am.
Think about it. It’s 2015, and we still need to campaign for “more diverse books.”
————-
The question we librarians need to ask ourselves is: Are you exposing your users to the full range of authors and literature out there? Are you going out of your comfort zone and reading and learning about authors and sharing that with the community you serve?


— by Shauntee Burns-Simpson,

from A Call to Action for Librarians @ BookRiot

We Need Diverse Books

A Call to Action for Librarians by Shauntee Burns-Simpson — from BookRiot

Ta-Nehisi Coates to Write Black Panther Comic for Marvel by George Gene Gustines — from The New York Times

Lying to Children About the California Missions and the Indians by Deborah A. Miranda — from Zinn Education Project: Teaching a People’s History

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan reviewed by Pooja Makhijani — from The Rumpus

The Diversity Baseline Survey — from Lee & Low Books

Authors & Books

Top 25 Books from the 2015 NBA (Neri Book Awards) by G. Neri — from g.neri.com

Some Kids’ Books Are Worth The Wait: ‘They Do Take Time,’ Says Kevin Henkes  — from NPR

Jane Goodall, UN Messenger of Peace  by Monica Edinger — from Educating Alice

Children’s Books Interview – Horn Book Editor, Roger Sutton  — from Miss Marple’s Musings

A Manifesto for Children’s Literature; or, Reading Harold as a Teenager by Philip Nel — from Iowa Review 

I Am Marie Lu: Ask Me Anything  — from reddit.com/r/books

Nielsen Summit Shows the Data Behind the Children’s Book Boom by Natasha Gilmore — from Publishers Weekly

Something Great to Share

 

Size Comparison Science Fiction Spaceships by Dirk Loechel — from Deviant Art

(Click on this small partial image to see the full size, high rez original.)

spaceshipslinkimage

I gathered these entries from various sources such as Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and specific sites that I follow such as Educating Alice, Pub Peeps, Book Riot, School Library Journal, The Horn Book, We Need Diverse Books, etc.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Notes, Views, WIWWAK

Notes from Beijing: Chinese Children’s Books and Other Thoughts, Part 1

FCLBeijingThese thoughts went through my mind as I visited Beijing and the International Book Fair with a focus on the local books published for the Chinese young readers.

First, simply about communication and information exchanges.

It was quite an education for me to truly understand that the “WORLD” wide web as I see and use it is definitely NOT so “world wide.”   YouTube, Google-platform, Facebook, and Twitter are all inaccessible in China, unless someone has installed IP masking devices (VPN, etc.)   So, when I tweet or share something on Facebook from New York City, I cannot guarantee to reach the millions of potential internet users in China.  According to the editor of one of the publishers, Fairrosa Cyber Library site often shows up without her being able to load the included images — and no YouTube videos can be displayed either. Furthermore, since my recent reports on Newbery & Caldecott winning publishers feature Google spreadsheet graphs (pie-charts), the information, without a plain text summary, was inaccessible to the Chinese readers of my blog.

Although I always knew about the differences in accessibilities of certain sites in China, experiencing it first hand definitely made me think twice about my comfortable assumptions.

Another striking realization came after I spoke with several representatives of major children’s book publishers: either with the editors, publishers, or rights managers: each told me that they have all sold their best titles internationally.  Upon further inquiry, “internationally” means Korea and other Asian countries such as the Philippines, and France, and other European countries such as Germany.  They almost NEVER meant North America, especially The United States.  They all told a similar tale: the U.S. publishers of children’s books only wish to sell Chinese language rights and have the books available in China for sale; very rarely would a U.S. publisher seriously consider buying and translating Chinese originals into English editions for American children.  I wonder if this situation will change any time soon?

I have always noticed that translated children’s books are scarce on the U.S. market and felt sad that the U.S. children do not have the same level of exposure to world literature and diverse viewpoints and sensibilities that I had the good fortune to have, growing up in a small island country.  I read books translated from all over. Some of my all time favorite books that were re-read many times were from Italy (Heart or Education of Love), France (Arsène Lupin: Gentleman Thief series), Cuba (Malfada – a satirical comic strip series), Japan (manga) and India (Buddhist allegories.)  And while there have always been publishers who work hard at bringing books from other cultures to the U.S., there seems to be some difficulty to sell these titles when the cultural landscape and sensibilities differ greatly from the everyday, presumed mindset of the U.S. children.

Case in point: One thing I noticed was how the strong Chinese tradition of not shying away from sad endings remains evident even in picture books for fairly young children.  Tragedy is quite common in traditional Chinese literature, theater, and now TV shows and movies, and children are often familiar with many somber tales.

Take these two books by Cao Wenxuan (曹文轩) for example:

lastpatherThe Last of the Panthers shows the devastating scenario of the “last” of many species and there is no uplifting or hopeful ending when our Panther gives up on itself and falls into the perpetual sleep.  It is heart wrenching but so effective.  A young person reading the simple text and looking at these gorgeous pictures would acutely feel the pang of loss of such majestic animal and might be inspired to be more responsible in caring for our natural world.
kingofthecapAnother title is the Hat King.  A story set during the Sino-Japanese war when the boy and his grandfather (a magician skilled in “hat tricks”) had to endure the deaths of the boy’s parents at the concentration camp and even when they successfully escaped from the camp, they had no house to go back to any more.  And that’s how the tale ends. This is a story almost never told to the children in the U.S. It’s powerful and bleak — but it’s also real and full of familiar affection.

Will either of these titles, which are top-selling picture books, or dozens of other quality peers, ever find their way to the general U.S. mass market? And if and when they do, will they be translated faithfully and stay intact?

7 Comments

Filed under Field Reports, WIWWAK

Sunday Select, September 20, 2015

FCLSSQuote of the Week

American audiences are capable of so much more than some in your industry imagine. And if we can break that down to what I really mean, I mean this: White Americans can care about more than just themselves. They really can. And the rest of us? We are DYING to see ourselves anywhere.

To be clear: I’m not asking for altruism here. I worked in corporate America for 20 years before I put my book out; I know the stakes, the economics. What I am saying makes solid, actual business sense: There is a vast, untapped audience out there. You need to get to us.

— by Mira Jacob,

from “I Gave A Speech About Race To The Publishing Industry And No One Heard Me” via BuzzFeed

Race & Cultural Literacy

Why a White Blog? by Allie Jane Bruce — from Reading While White (This is the inaugural post of the new blog.)

Author Cornelia Funke Launches Own Publishing Company by Wendy Werris — from Publishers Weekly (Her decision was made due to stylistic and also cultural conflicts with Litte, Brown.)

I Gave A Speech About Race To The Publishing Industry And No One Heard Me by Mira Jacob — from BuzzFeed

Awards, Authors & Writing

The National Book Award announcement of the ten titles that made the long list for the Young Readers category — from The New Yorker

Omission: Choosing what to leave out by John McPhee — from The New Yorker

The Walking and Talking series by Steve Sheinkin — from A Fuse8 Production/SLJ

This web comic series features interviews with children’s authors conducted and drawn by Steve Sheinkin, hosted on Fuse8, since September 2014. Here are the six installments so far:

I gathered these entries from various sources such as Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and specific sites that I follow such as Educating Alice, Pub Peeps, Book Riot, School Library Journal, The Horn Book, We Need Diverse Books, etc.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Notes, Views, WIWWAK

Sunday Select, September 13, 2015

FCLSSQuote of the Week

It is long past time for the industry to move past concerns over what–if anything–dominant voices lose when publishers actually choose to publish and promote minority voices over dominant ones. It is long past time to move past that old debate of who-can-write. Moving past that debate means I want to see publishers actually doing what Lasky feared so that more books by minority writers are actually published.

— by Debbie Reese,

from American Indians in Children’s Literature

Cultures – Insiders, Outsiders, Tangled Knots

Deborah Wiles, Debbie Reese, and Choosing a Revolution by Debbie Reese — from American Indians in Children’s Literature

A Tumblr Post about Writing the Other by Maggie Stiefvater — from Content of Maggie Stiefvater’s Brain

A Tumbler Post Response about Maggie Stiefvater’s Tumblr Post  — from La Lune Rousse

A Response to Colten Hibbs and Maggie Stiefvater on Writing the Other by B R Sanders — from Clatter and Clank

The White Poet Who Used an Asian Pseudonym to Get Published Is a Cheater, Not a Crusader by Katy Waldman — from Slate

Sherman Alexie Speaks Out on The Best American Poetry 2015 by Sherman Alexie from The Best American Poetry Blog

News, Awards, Authors

Marvel’s First Native American Hero Is Getting A Standalone Comic Series by James Whitbrook — from io9

Lee & Low Books: New Visions Award (Deadline 10/31/2015) — from Lee & Low Books

First WNDB Short Story Winners  — from We Need Diverse Books

2016 Spring and Summer Favorites? by Nina Lindsay — from Heavy Medal/SLJ

Alex Gino on Debut Novel, “George”, and the Importance of Transgender Voices in the Kid Lit World by Kiera Parrott — from School Library Journal

Goodreads YA Interview – Andrew Smith on Alex Crow

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Notes, Views, WIWWAK

Sunday Select, September 6, 2015

FCLSSQuote of the Week

Don’t even think about publishing until you’ve actually started writing, and don’t even think about writing until you’ve done a whole lot of reading. And not of websites or how-to guides; that’s just dilly-dallying. Read children’s books. Lots of children’s books. Although my grumpiness is resurfacing to tell you that if you haven’t already read lots of children’s books, for love, I’m probably not going to be interested in what you think you have to contribute. Harshing your buzz? Deal with it and dig out your library card.

— by Roger Sutton,
Editorial of the September/October 2015 Issue of The Horn Book

Books & Book Lists

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead, reviewed by Elizabeth Bird– from School Library Journal

The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith, reviewed by Jason Reynolds — from The New York Times

George by Alex Gino, author interview by Kiera Parrott — from School Library Journal

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Recent and New Releases by Alyson Beecher — from Kid Lit Frenzy

3 Filipino Folk Tales That Would Make Great YA Novels by Angel Cruz — from Book Riot

Happenings and Musings

Read Before You Write by Roger Sutton — from The Horn Book

Diversity Survey Deadline Nears by By Jim Milliot — from Publishers Weekly

The Opposite of Colorblind: Why It’s Essential to Talk to Children About Race by Hannah Ehrlich — from Lee & Low Books

Ratcheting Up the Rhetoric by Charles Blow — from The New York Times

Literary and Entertaining

The Bay of the Dead, a Facebook Photo Story by M.T. Anderson — from Facebook

17 Things We Wish Had Happened in Harry Potter by Gwen Glazer — from The New York Times

Where the Magic Happens: Children’s Illustrators Open Up Their Studios – in pictures by Jake Green — from The Guardian

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Notes, Views, WIWWAK

Sunday Select, August 23, 2015

FCLSSQuote of the Week

Learning the alphabet gave you night terrors, and even now you have a deep seated fear of being mauled by a bear.

— by Bridey Heing,

from “How to Tell If You’re in and Edward Gorey Book”  (referring to The Gashlycrumb Tinies)

Children’s Literature Happenings & Book Lists

How To Tell If You’re In an Edward Gorey Book by Bridey Heing — from The Toast

Kwame Alexander BeatBoxing The Crossover at Singapore American School

ABC Books Beyond Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Karina Glaser — from Book Riot

Getting Graphic by Julie Danielson — from Kirkus

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #445: Featuring Matt Phelan by Julie Danielson from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Good Questions and Great Answers

Where Are All The People of Color in Sci-Fi/Fantasy? by Anthony Vicino — from SF Signal

Bedtime Stories for Young Brains by Perri Klass, MD. — from The New York Times

10 REASONS TO READ DIVERSELY — from Lee & Low Books

I’m Latino. I’m Hispanic. And They Are Different, so I drew a comic to explain. by Terry Blas — from Vox

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Notes, Views, WIWWAK

Sunday Select, August 16, 2015

FCLSSQuotes of the Week

What few people understand and some people don’t want to understand is that the chattel slavery inflicted on blacks in America was distinctly different from slavery in Africa, Russia, Ireland, Rome, Greece, or Egypt. The notion that a person and their descendants would be held in generational perpetuity without any hope of liberation was only featured in America… for hundreds of years, affecting millions of people. Slavery is America’s original sin. Many of our fellow citizens continue to suffer horrific injustice and inequality because we haven’t learned our history and we lack the moral courage to deal with what happened then and what is happening now.

— Laurie Halse Anderson (public facebook comment)

Authors must be allowed to focus on the topics and ideas that contain personal meanings, that they feel passionate about examining in their work, and that they can feel proud of creating.  Solely focusing on what an author hasn’t given readers can mean we risk missing an awful lot of what they have.

— Shelly McNerney
from In which I think about gender of authors and characters…

Authors and Reading Lists

andrewsmithweird
A sampling of YA author Andrew Smith’s Facebook Profile Photos: with two new books out in 2015 (Alex Crow and Stand Off) Smith is not only hard at work keeping his YA novels weird (and they ARE weird, in the best way) but also making sure that Facebook remains equally weird.

How Brian Selznick Created a Delightful Book Trailer for ‘The Marvels’ by Jennifer Maloney — from Speakeasy, Wall Street Journal

How to (Re)Tell a Story in Pictures by Gareth Hinds — from TeachingBooks.net

M.T. Anderson: ‘Seeking Out the Truth’ for Teens — from Shelf Awareness

Italy: Diary of a Wimpy Kid translated into Latin — from BBC News from Elsewhere

Meet Marvel’s newest female superhero in Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur by Andrea Towers — from Entertainment Weekly

SUMMER READING compiled by Crystal — from Rich In Color

The Best Feminist Books For Younger Readers by Brandi Bailey — From Book Riot

Looking for a Back-to-School Chapter Book Read Aloud? Don’t Miss These! by Daryl Grabarek — from School Library Journal

Important Perspectives

In which I think about gender of authors and characters… by Shelly McNerney — from macstackbooks.com

Kids’ Thoughts on Censorship (Loudness in the Library Year Three, Part 1) by Allie Jane Bruce — from Bank Street College Center for Children’s Literature

Rewriting History: American Indians, Europeans, and an Oak Tree (Loudness in the Library Year Three, Part 3) by Allie Jane Bruce — from Bank Street College Center for Children’s Literature

Allie’s Reflections (Loudness in the Library Year Three, Part 4) by Allie Jane Bruce — from Bank Street College Center for Children’s Literature

Representations (and the Lack Thereof) of Race and Hair (Loudness in the Library Year Three, Part 2) by Allie Jane Bruce — from Bank Street College Center for Children’s Literature

Monticello’s whitewashed version of history by Desiree H. Melton — from The Washington Post

Follow-up discussion on author Laurie Halse Anderson’s public facebook post regarding the above article.

3 Comments

Filed under Book Notes, Views, WIWWAK

Sunday Select, August 09, 2015

FCLSS

Quote of the Week:

“There is, however, a somber point in the social outlook of Americans. Their sense of equality and human dignity is mainly limited to men of white skins. Even among these there are prejudices of which I as a Jew am clearly conscious; but they are unimportant in comparison with the attitude of the ‘Whites’ toward their fellow-citizens of darker complexion, particularly toward Negroes. The more I feel an American, the more this situation pains me. I can escape the feeling of complicity in it only by speaking out.”

Albert Einstein, “The Negro Question (1946)”

Children’s Lit Happenings!

Announcing the 2015 Golden Kite Winners — from Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

2015 Teens Top Ten Nominees Announced — from Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)

Ashley Bryan Talks with Roger by Roger Sutton — from The Horn Book Magazine

A Notable Summer by Andrew Medler — from Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC)

Author Name Pronunciation Guide — from TeachingBooks.net

Interview with Phoebe Yeh by Jenn Baker — from Minorities in Publishing (MiP)

Roundtable: The New Archie by Brigid Alverson– from School Library Journal

Important Points to Consider:

Einstein: The Negro Question (1946) by Albert Einstein — reposted on On Being

Teen Girls and the Persistence of Gender Stereotypes by Randye Hoder from The Atlantic

Diversity: What Can We Do About It? — from The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

INDIAN 101 FOR WRITERS – A Five Part Series, Part I — from A Fresh Pot of Tea (link provided for Part II and so on)

Leave a comment

Filed under Field Reports, Views, WIWWAK

Avatar: The Last Airbender (TV show) Survey Report

avatar posterAvatar: The Last Airbender, the Nichelodeon channel animated show from 2005, has been and continues to be really popular with my middle and high school students.  (The show was created for even younger viewers.) I got curious and asked random internet users (via facebook, twitter, reddit, FCL, etc.) to fill out a form and tell me whether: “Avatar? OMG — AVATAR is MY LIFE!” or “This is the first time I have ever heard of this show,” and anything in between.  Although the respondents can choose from 12 different answers, I decided to consolidate them into four categories: Extreme Love, Positive, Neutral/Negative, and Never heard of/watched the show. Those who filled out the form also shared their demographic information and self-identified as one of the following: Asian or Asian American, White (Hispanic), White (Non-Hispanic), Black (Hispanic), Black (Non-Hispanic), Racially Mixed – part Asian, Racially Mixed – no Asian, Native American, or Other* * I had to take out a few responses (for example, a self-identified “penguin” – Oh, internet, you never fails to amuse me!) As you can see, the responses are really positive, just like those from my students and myself.  We are excited about the show, its spin-off Legend of Korra, and are happily reading the Graphic Novels series extending the storyline, and anxiously awaiting the new installments for both Aang, Katara, Zuko, Toph, Sokka storylines and the Korra storyline.  My notes on The Search by Gene Luen Yang will be posted tomorrow. If your browser can’t load this embedded chart, click on THIS LINK. I also asked for age ranges but decided to not include that information in the chart.

Leave a comment

Filed under Field Reports

Sunday Select: August 2nd, 2015

FCLSS

Quote of the Week:

“When you hear, ‘black lives matter,’ don’t instinctively respond that all lives matter, as if one statement negates the other. Instead, try to understand why people of color might be compelled to remind the world that their lives have value.”  — Roxane Gay

Mostly About Children’s Books:

What Children’s Publishers Read at Home with Kids” Compiled by Diane Roback — from Publishers Weekly.

Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder Banquet Speech Videos” — from Association for Library Service to Children

2015 LIS 7210 Library Materials for Children List” by Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen — from sarahpark.com: musings on korean diaspora, children’s literature, and adoption

#WeNeedDiverseBlogs: Reviewing & Reading Diversely” hosted by Nicole Brinkley — from Twitter Discussion thread

Important Points to Consider:

Of Lions and Men: Mourning Samuel DuBose and Cecil the Lion” by Roxane Gay — from The New York Times.

American Racism in the ‘White Frame’” interview of Joe Feagan by George Yancy — from The New York Times

The Hololcaust and White Privilege” by Monica Edinger — from Educating Alice

Leave a comment

Filed under Field Reports, Views

Sunday Selection, July 26th, 2015

FCLSS

Jimmy Carter and Jacqueline Woodson on Race, Religion and Rights – from The New York Times

It’s Time to Get Real About Racial Diversity in Comics – from Wired

A Historic Week for the Fight to #EndMassIncarceration! But Will President Obama Play It Safe or Courageously? – from Huffington Post

Actor Jesse Williams Breaks Down Sandra Bland and Racist Hypocrisy in 24 Tweets – from ColorLines

Leave a comment

Filed under Field Reports

Chew (Series) by John Layman & Rob Guillory

Taster's Choice (Chew, Vol. 1)

Chew by John Layman, artwork by Rob Guillory

Not for the faint of heart or queasy of tummy. There are laugh-out-loud scenes and almost-puke-my-guts-out scenes. Definitely cannot read this and have a meal at the same time.

Since 2009, the series creative duo, Layman & Guillory, have brought us 50 installments and 10 collective volumes (August 2015) of this bizarre tale of a Chinese American FDA detective Tony Chu with a superhuman ability: Tony can bite into any once living organism and have vivid “recollection” of the scenes in that living organism’s life, including the circumstances surrounding its death.  So, when he arrived on a murder scene, he is required to take a bite out of the corpse…   But, wait, others also have strange abilities like, a food critic able to write reviews that make the readers actually “taste” the meal (including the terrible ones), a chocolate sculptor who can recreate any landmark in 100% accurate details, etc.

And then you have the U.S. Government’s top secret weapon, Poyo, a rooster with nuclear weapon power, other political conspiracies involving NASA and the aliens they deal with, and enough family and love drama to satisfy any soap opera aficionado. Yup.  A crazy smorgasbord of gross but hilarious scenarios.  I absolutely adore this series and can’t wait to read the rest of the collected volumes (planned 12, by mid-2016.)

One of the main reasons that I love Chew is my fondness of Guillory’s artistic style.  And now I think of it, the series definitely fits #weneeddiversebooks movement very well — for older teens.

Meet the artist, Rob Guillory:

robguilloryphoto

And Meet Tony Chu:

meettonyAnd see some of the unusual scenes for yourself:

chewspecial chewcovers chewweirdwedding

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Notes

The INjustice in the U.S. Criminal Justice System

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 8.04.06 AMI posted this to Facebook just now, thinking that it has little to do with Children’s or YA literature so the paragraphs do not belong on this blog. However, when I consider the reason for We Need Diverse Books movement and the imagery of young black males portrayed in some “gritty” modern teen novels, I found myself compelled to post my facebook update here as well:

Facebook asks, “What’s on your mind?” for status update. What’s been on my mind so much lately (because I’m listening to Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow) is the INjustice in our Criminal Justice system. Looking to verify some of the scenarios she cites in her book, I looked up the current prison fact sheet and found this (and other facts) on the NAACP site:

Drug Sentencing Disparities

  • About 14 million Whites and 2.6 million African Americans report using an illicit drug
  • 5 times as many Whites are using drugs as African Americans, yet African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of Whites
  • African Americans represent 12% of the total population of drug users, but 38% of those arrested for drug offenses, and 59% of those in state prison for a drug offense.
  • African Americans serve virtually as much time in prison for a drug offense (58.7 months) as whites do for a violent offense (61.7 months). (Sentencing Project)

What I now realize is that — these African American prison inmates do not just serve time and endure unfair punishment, they also lose many of their civil rights: including the basic right to vote to change the societal bondage of such unfair conditions.

We need to be aware and demand and SEE change in our Criminal Justice system and not allow the local and federal governments to keep funnel precious resources and huge amount of money into maintaining a penal system that does nothing to improve our society for all (building more prisons instead of training teachers and supporting education, for example!)

Link to the CRIMINAL JUSTICE FACT SHEET

Link to the PDF of “Reducing Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System: A Manual for Practitioners and Policymakers” by The Sentencing Project

1 Comment

Filed under Views, WIWWAK

Coretta Scott King Book Awards Breakfast: A Most Memorable Morning from ALA 2015, San Francisco

We always grumble about it being too early (7:00 a.m. on a Sunday during a long weekend of festivities and after a couple of really late night parties); we always know that once we get there, something magical will happen so all our sleepiness will be swept away: when the entire room sang Lift Every Voice and Sing together, when the morning invocation calls to attention of the importance of this award in our still trying time for African Americans, and when the award winners give their heart-felt, thought-provoking speeches.

This year felt like it was the BEST yet!  From Jason Reynold’s tribute to his mother and the power of community, to Kwame Alexander’s rousing spoken words; from Kekla Magoon’s insistence of telling the world the multi-faceted truths behind the single-angled reporting of the media, to Frank Morrison’s belief of encouraging all children to be who they truly are; from Marilyn Nelson’s quiet reminder of the power of words to Christian Robinson’s (and Patricia Hruby Powell) dancing like Josephine Baker!  And of course, to the dreaming and frustration and dreaming again by Jacqueline Woodson and Christopher Myers.

Jackie’s and Chris’ speeches in their printed form can be found on the Hornbook site.

Dream Keepers by Jackie and This untitled speech by Chris are must reads!  Don’t miss this moving tribute to Chris by John Steptoe (new talent winner): Giant (for Christopher Myers)

That entire breakfast was at once extremely somber and electrifying.  These talented African American authors and artists have joined a long line of creative souls who continue to inspire and inform young readers.  Bravo!

(Christian Robinson & Patricia Hruby Powell – illustrator/author duo for Josephine even danced for us.)

Another noteworthy honoree of the day is Deb Taylor (my fellow 2002 Newbery member,) of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore for her Distinguished Services over the years!  Here’s a picture of her giving her passionate speech —

IMG_20150628_093432

 

and her talking to Marilyn Nelson, author of Carver: A Life in Poems, (2002 Newbery Honor book winner):

IMG_20150628_100728

More pictures and reports of this past weekend at ALA can be found on the SLJ site.  And my own photo documentary of the weekend is forthcoming!

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Field Reports

Invisible Man

invisibleman by Ralph Ellison, Audiobook read by Peter Francis James.

This is a book that I wish I had read it in a class, with a passionate teacher and a group of classmates that would share their reactions and opinions with me. So many ideas bounced in my head as I listened to an excellent rendition of the book by Peter Francis James and I immediately wanted to re-read it and to jut down the numerous memorable quotes since, alas, many still applicable when it comes to race relations in the United States. Shouldn’t this be required reading in ALL high school English classes across America?

1 Comment

Filed under Book Notes

My One and Only BEA

My first BookExpo America happened this past Friday, May 29, and they are moving it to Chicago next year!  So, this might be my one and only BEA.

My first impression upon approaching the Javits Center was, “This is no where near overwhelming as so many people had told me.”  (My experience with Javits is mostly ComicCon with 151,000 unique attendees in 2014; BEA had about 11,000 last year.)

Around 9:15 a.m, I entered the building:

IMG_20150529_091546

The exhibits floor was actually not that empty and by 9:30, there were definitely a lot of people excited about meeting authors and getting their books signed.  Long lines for John Grisham and other authors.  I learned that there’s the thing called “the Galley Drop:” You stand in line for a specific ARC give-away at a certain hour.  Brian Selznick’s Marvels had more than one galley drop times!

Of course, the Expo is not really for “common book fans.”  It’s where a lot of business meetings were taking place amongst industry professionals and deals got made.  I acted as a fan briefly but devoted most of my day scouting possibilities and finding ways to bridge the Chinese and American children’s publishing worlds.

It was definitely thrilling to meet Marie Lu and to tell her how much my students and I have enjoyed all her work: The Legend trilogy and the new Young Elites.  So looking forward to The Rose Society this fall!

IMG_20150529_093302IMG_20150529_103019

Most of my day was spent on going through the China Pavilion where this year’s Honored Guests, dozens of Chinese Publishing companies, displayed their wares and where special events featuring editors, authors, and publishers took place.  The space was set up beautifully, if a bit sterile, but I imagine that most display must have felt quite impenetrable to American buyers, with little or no English explanation of what they are seeing.

IMG_20150529_115428

By sheer good luck, I discovered some middle grade titles that capture contemporary Chinese life that could be introduced to American young readers.  This promising series: Colourful Ravens: Original Stories in Chinese, features fiction around 120 to 145 pages long, with colorful illustrations and high production value, is from the 21st Century Publishing House.  I talked to the editor of the series and the company’s Rights manager and can’t wait to read through their entire output this summer!

IMG_20150529_113259 IMG_20150529_112913

Another memorable event was the dialog between two young writers, Xu Ze Chen, author of Running Through Beijing and Dale Peck, author of Sprout, moderated by Eric Abrahamsen, a translator from Seattle currently living in Beijing and the publisher of Paper-Republic.org (website and print magazine for translators of Chinese literature.)  The audience who were not fluent in both languages were given headsets, tuned to the correct language channel, and two interpreters simultaneously provided accurate translation for the audience AND for the two authors.  This allowed for the two of them to have a completely seamless and meaningful conversation mostly about contemporary Beijing, generational gap, writing for a perceived audience, and the time-sink that is self-promotion, etc. even with the language barrier.  It’s a beautiful thing to behold!

I ordered Running Through Beijing right then and there.  It will arrive soon.  Book report forthcoming!IMG_20150529_141944

I also attended an off-site meeting with a newly established Children’s Publisher in China and will report when there are concrete things to cover.

Overall, a superbly productive day!

Leave a comment

Filed under Field Reports

What is Akimi's mother?

Finally got around to reading a book favored by many of my students.  So far, the writing is crisp and fluid, the storyline is intriguing, and the main character is easy to like. Then, I ran into a sentence that caught me by surprise: “Akimi’s mother is Asian, her dad Irish.”  I tried to imagine why the narrator decided to name the COUNTRY of origin of this character’s father — IRELAND, and to name the CONTINENT of origin of this character’s mother?  The symmetry would have been, “Akimi’s mother is Asian, her dad European,” or “Akimi’s mother is Japanese, her dad Irish.”  (Akimi is a unisex Japanese name.)

By naming the father’s specific country, we acknowledge that different European countries have different cultures and traditions and also different background/immigrant stories.  By naming the mother’s origin as from one generic and vast continent, we erase the differences of the diverse cultures and heritages, and fail to acknowledge the different background/immigrant stories.

Of course, one cannot know what went into writing and editing such sentences: I don’t know whether the author originally put in the ethnicity of the mother and was advised to change it; I don’t know whether there are reasons I am unaware of that naming the mother’s heritage might be offensive; I don’t know that it is not just so common a narrative convention that no one on the editorial team would be able to catch the inconsistency and correct it.  

Few people would even notice this unessential sentence unless they are like me who reads statements like this and see the bright neon sign of frustration: when will American, non-Asian writers start realizing that Asians and Asian Americans belong to many different sub-groups, all carrying with them drastically diverse beliefs, traditions, and histories? And if they’d like to put in some ASIAN characters to “diversify” their stories, perhaps some more understanding of where those characters came from, what kind of back stories they and their forefathers might have would have helped to raise the authenticity meter? And also perhaps consider: whether they behave more like those from their countries of origin or more like your “common” Americans… (by the way, what IS a “common” American?)

Leave a comment

Filed under Views, WIWWAK

Intersectionality

Thinking about how this has been a recent buzz word when it comes to discussing diversity topics.  It is truly the reality of our identities: one cannot just be Asian, but Asian and female, Asian and female and middle class, and Asian and female and middle class and not 100% straight, so on and so forth.  And I always want to honor others’ views and feelings when in a heated discussion.  However, it seems that sometimes when intersectionality is mentioned, it is someone’s way Out of the more uncomfortable strain of the topics.  If talking about Race is the most uncomfortable, then let’s introduce the intersectionality of Race and Class.  Then let’s shift the focal point to Class.

So can I ask this question in future discussions when intersected identities are introduced: which topic makes one the most uncomfortable?  Then I will insist on not wavering from That one because it is obviously the topic most needed addressing and worked on.

Leave a comment

Filed under Views, WIWWAK