Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Five - July 24

Hello, everyone. Thought I'd take a study break and type this up quickly. You'll notice I posted a couple of reviews since declaring my break. I'm going to do any blog tours or reviews I've already committed to in order to honor my commitments! I'll also try to do the Contest Mondays.

1. Winners -
Karen won The Veil by Diane Noble
Cecelia won Tomorrow's Treasure by Linda Chaikin
Tashi won Eyes Like Stars ARC by Lisa Mantchev with bracelet/postcard

2. Bibliography - We had to do a programming bibliography for class and I was reminded of some great books I have:
The Guy-Friendly YA Library by Rollie James Welch
Center Stage: Library Programs That Inspire Middle School Patrons by Wilson and Leslie
Teen-Centered Book Club: Readers Into Leaders by Kunzel and Hardesty
Serving Young Teens and 'Tweens edited by Sheila B. Anderson

I don't do much programming outside of book clubs but I might try some other things this year.

3. Fire by Kristin Cashore- This was much better than Graceling. Cashore was a little preachy about sex and abortion so that changes the audience for this one. Kinda like Meyer with Breaking Dawn.

4. Teen Bookstore - this my ultimate dream and I've been thinking about it lot more lately. I'd always looked at being a librarian as a stepping stone to owning a bookstore - now I can't actually see how I will get there. Why has my vision dimmed?

5. Diversity and Controversy - the twitterverse has been all abuzz with the controversy over the cover of Liar by Justine Larbalestier. Justine wrote a great article on Why My Protagonist's Arent White. Check out some of her other blog posts on this issue.

Even before this, Mitali Perkins had written an article for School Library Journal, Straight Talk on Race: Challenging the Stereotype in kid's books, that discussed what we see and what we read and how it affects us or how we think. She included 5 questions you should ask about any book.

Color Online also challenged us to actively make multicultural reading and reviewing a part of what we do, not a special activity. In her Color Me Brown post she says "I want teens of color to reject invisibility as a norm".

It's not just teens of color who do that. I do that. In my effort not to appear racist, I self-censor. I try NOT to promote books for and/or about people of color so that I don't offend anyone. What? What? I know, right. I narrow my reading which prolly makes me more narrow-minded. And if it makes me narrow-minded, what does it do to my students?

Jennifer Cervantes wrote Why Multicultural Literature Matters and really made me re-think the way I do things. I need to be more deliberate. Does this mean I'm only going to promote books by/about people of color. No. But I will more closely watch what I read.

I use the ALA Book Awards for some of my selection decisions. Take a look at the Newbery and Printz award winners, the Margaret Edwards award? There are very few multicultural titles and those we see are written by the same handful of authors. I also use SLJ, Booklist, and other review magazines - where are the starred reviews for multicultural literature?

I will say I'm excited about YALSA's 2010 Young Adult Literature Symposium - Beyond Good Intentions: Diversity, Literature and Teens. Although it's in NM so I won't be going. But maybe I could submit a paper. Or maybe you could.

One thing is clear - just because we don't talk about it, doesn't mean it's ok. It's as if people were waiting for someone like Larbalestier to step up so that our voices could finally be heard. I'm not sure of the first blogger who noticed the cover issue, but I'm glad she spoke up. Maybe we can all start working on this and hopefully have at least one positive thing to say at the symposium.

As I'm new to librarianship and reading for selection - this may sound rambling. It is - but it's how I think things through. I'm making a decision to not be silent to be deliberate and seek out good writing by and for people of color. Maybe we need a Multicultural Review magazine? Not just once a year from the other lists - every month, major focus...hmmmm....

I know the first step for me will be to participate in the Diversity Roll Call.

What are your thoughts on these issues?


  1. In my effort not to appear racist, I self-censor. I try NOT to promote books for and/or about people of color so that I don't offend anyone -

    KB, I am happy you are honest enough to post that but reading it makes me sad. In not reviewing books featuring people of color, you've imposed a kind of self racism

    Sometimes, Black readers are on a kind of reading tight rope. Do we read the hot new releases by Black authors or do we read the bestselling must haves. What we read is influenced by what our friends are and aren't reading. In the kidlit world books featuring people of color are not popular. You can help change this

    It says something to White bloggers that many Black bloggers aren't reviewing books featuring people of color on a regular basis. (I am still trying to figure out how this happened) Should you limit yourself to reading authors of color? HELL NO. If someone told me I could only review Black authors. I would be like MF What! I am not missing all those good stories.

    I understand the desire to keep up and read all the really good titles everyone is talking about. But sometimes KB, you have to say screw it, slip in a book or two featuring people of color and make everyone keep up with you.

    This is a very good start. As big as this issue is many of the teen blogs haven't touched it. So thank you KB for taking time away from your study break to write this post. Thank you for not letting this issue go by without making a change

  2. KB,

    I read all good literature. A lot of that good literature is by people of color. I made a conscious decision to focus on this group of writers because frankly there are so few bloggers doing it, and even fewer doing so with any regularity. That's what Rasko said at RIF in her current article.

    Being pro-brown is not anti-white. Why would anyone accuse someone of being racist for celebrating non-white writers? I don't think majority bloggers are racists. I do think not blogging about poc writers is limiting. You're leaving out scores of writers.

    I don't blog about the popular white writers because frankly, everyone else is. Nothing is lost by me not contributing. There is a huge gap however that the majority of bloggers give very little exposure and support to writers of color.

    No one would ever say a blogger who focuses on a particular genre was wrong and prejudicial. Why would we accuse someone of being a racist for celebrating diversity?

    I have often commented in other ways when it comes to mainstream books. I make it clear I know about these books and in fact, I read those that interest me. That is hugely different from not being aware, not acknowledging and not reading.

    I really appreciate your post. It reinforces my belief that we affecting change.

  3. Forgot the link.

    Rasco at RIF quotes me ((grinning like crazy)) and references Color Online.

  4. Hi KB! I just wanted to say that I'm really glad that you're going to watch what you read more carefully and try and make a better effort to read books about poc. I saw your Diversity challenge bookshelf and I read/loved almost all those books! (Flygirl, New Boy, When the Black Girl Sings, Hang a Thousand Trees With Ribbons). Return to Sender is actually the only Julia Alvarez book I didn't really like. All the other books on your shelf are on my tbr pile! I haven't read Locomotion yet so I look forward to your review!
    Good luck on opening a teen bookstore. Awesome idea, so needed! :)

  5. As a person of color, I spent much of my 20+ years as a writer writing mostly characters of color. But for me this just didn't feel honest. First off, I don't live in a mostly African American world. I did when I was very young, but I don't anymore. My world is diverse. When I write, as when I read, I am more interested in what's happening inside a character than the color of their skin. In fact I am not interested in the color of a character's skin at all--unless it has some profound bearing on the story. I try to write interesting fun, funny characters that audiences can love and hate. And I write about girls. I am not a girl. Add that to the mix.

    I don't want cultural lit to go away. It's important. But as a writer I want to be free to write all my experiences, and not just those of a black boy growing up in the South Bronx.

  6. E.Van Lowe,

    As a reader, what is happening inside of my head has a lot to do with the color of my skin because I live in a world that never lets me forget I'm black. My world is diverse. My circle of friends mirrors a mini-UN. I have been invited to countries around the globe. But my personal life doesn't negate how the dominant culture treats me as a black woman. It by no means diminishes the impact of institutional racism which is systematic and insidious. That said, I'm not 'an angry black woman.' I'm a black woman who can get angry.

    I believe all writers should be free to write what they are moved to write. However, if you think writing about poc is a matter of skin color or race alone then you fail to recognize the reason why poc characters and stories matter. It's about identification of culture and experiences. Skin color or race alone is not enough, and I am insulted that so many readers and publishers think that as a person of color that I only read POC fiction because I see a face like mine.

    You and I know Black people aren't monolithic and neither is the work written with POC characters.

    I see you worked on the Cosby show. That's television. I don't know how much YA literature you've read, but multicultural literature is diverse. Not every book with POC characters is about slavery, oppression or some other depressing theme. There's POC in comics, graphic novels, paranormal, romance and chick lit, too.

  7. Love this post. I want to be a book store owner too. I think I could blog between customers...LOL


Thanks for chatting! I love comments and look forward to reading yours! I may not reply right away, but I am listening! Keep reading and don't forget to be awesome!


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