That promise fell through. For the summer.
I did read some multicultural titles though. Note: I made up these labels (it's caled list-group-label and it's a great pre-reading activity). I could also be mistaken.
One thing I noticed was when choosing a book for this particular challenge, cover played a larger role than normal in my reading. I'll talk more about that under the categories
Books with Diverse Authors (other than African American)
Karma by Cathy Ostlere
The Grand Plan to Fix Everything by Uma Krishnaswami
Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez
These are the books where cover played a huge role. While Karma and Return to Sender each have generic covers, the other three have faces. And while Fury of the Phoenix and The Grand Plan to Fix Everything feature characters on the cover that look Asian, Odd Girl In is the odd book out. Picking up this book in the library would not give you any hints that there is diversity involved. I picked this one because it's a "Mix" imprint and the girls seem to like them. They are fast and fun.
These are also books with authors of color. I feel Pon uses Fury to share a portion of Asian culture and history with us as does Krishnaswami and Ostlere. These are stories that would be totally diffferent if the main characters were re-written as white. The characters cultural heritage as well as their countries as setting are significant. The stories are enhanced by the background knowledge the authors bring into play.
Return to Sender is one story that seems to suffer from the author's experience. The story was bogged down in the details of the migrant workers and you never connected with them nor their plight. Although told in alternating voices, the Hispanic migrant worker's daughter's voice was heavy-handed and "preachy" while the white co-protagonist's voice was childish and whiny. You could easily exchange these characters with other dichotomous factions without any significant loss or gain.
Odd Girl In has me confused. The author is Asian but the characters read as "everyone". It's just a simple story about a family, school and friendships. Nothing more or less. And I think that's ok. Isn't it?
Books with Diverse Characters (other than African American)Shine by Lauren Miracle
Addie On The Inside by James Howe
Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman
Sass & Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler
The Challenger by Greg Fishbone
Black Elk's Vision by SD Nelson
Shine and Addie on the Inside could use a separate category. I included these because they both feature gay characters. In the case of Shine, it's a major part of the story but we don't get into the relationship while in Addie it's not the top storyline. LGBT stories are ones that I need to read more. I did read The Misfits but I haven't read Totally Joe by James Howe. I do love that Joe is fashioned after Mr Howe which I think lends some authenticity to his story. I think Addie would work whether or not Joe was in her story since we only get a glimpse of him and his boyfriend. The think about Shine is it's more about prejudice than about being gay. You could substitute religion, socioeconomic status, or race and get a similar story which made it easy to relate to. Prejudice is prevalent and we will go to extremes not to be made fun of, even to the point of making fun of the very thing we secretly embrace so as not to be laughed it.
Books with African American characters (but not authors)
Sources of Light by Margaret McMullan
Tankborn by Karen Sandler
Books with African American Authors
A Game of Character by Craig Robinson (adult)
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones (adult)
Remember Me by Cheryl Robinson (adult)
Flygirl by Sherri L. SmithSilhouetted by the Blue by Traci L. Jones
If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson
Flygirl brings the issue of "passing" to children's books. It reminded me of Imitation of Life in parts. It was a good way to learn not only about passing but able women pilots and gender prejudices.
Overall, I'm still left with questions. Is it ok to have poc characters in books, just for the sake of having them? Does that really fill the need that people have to see themselves reflected in books? When we talk about "seeing ourselves" what are we looking for? What are students looking for? We are more than just the color of our skin or the kink in our hair. But isn't that something worth reading about too? I would love to read a book about an educated black librarian (Beautiful Creatures) that has kinky hair and a snarky sense of humor. I would also like her to be a snazzy dresser (unlike me) and a lot of fun. She should also read lots of books and have lots of friends. Not only would it fill my need to see "me" in a book but I it would show others the possibilities of the future. It's the one thing I loved about Silhoutted by the Blue. The father was an artist. The uncle was a financier. They were black and they weren't out selling drugs or even playing basketball. They were "normal" and that's worth something too.