Friday, May 31, 2013

Diversity in the News

May 23rd —May 30th, 2013



Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Searching For Our Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Lin is a Taiwanese-American, Los Angeles born, Harvard educated, undrafted NBA point guard who rose to unexpected stardom on the New York Knicks (he’s now a member of the Houston Rockets). A little over a year ago, in February 2012, Lin had a moment in history that transcended sports and race and became a worldwide phenomenon affectionately referred to as “Linsanity.” This meteoric rise is best encapsulated in the CBS “60 Minutes” special that recently aired. In a nutshell: Lin went from bench-warming obscurity to international sensation as he led the New York Knicks on a winning streak that defied all odds. In his 12 starts before the All-Star break, Lin averaged 22.5 points and 8.7 assists, and New York had a 9–3 record. Jeremy Lin is one of the few Asian Americans in NBA history, and the first American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Diversity in the News

May 9th—May 16th, 2013


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Book Spotlight: Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel

© 2014
Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Happiness, anger, love, jealousy, peace, and worry. Everyone has experienced these feelings, especially as a thirteen-year-old, and these are all the emotions Erica “Chia” Montenegro is feeling the summer before eighth grade.

In Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel (coming out this June) Diana Lopez, author of Confetti Girl and Choke, introduces us to Chia, whose life is turned upside down when she learns her mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer and must undergo a mastectomy and radiation treatments. She finds herself juggling the responsibilities of family, school, and friendship, all while keeping up the façade that she can handle it all without help. This story captivated me in its honesty, heart, and humor; the protagonist is funny without forcing it, and the emotions, which as indicated by the title, swing from excitement and anticipation to dread and sadness, are authentic. Chia is a character any reader can connect with. And it doesn’t matter that she also happens to be Latina. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

An Ongoing Question, An Ongoing Discussion

Guest post by associate editor at Charlesbridge, Julie Ham.

When Charlesbridge decided to host a diversity panel during this week’s Children’s Book Week, the onset of planning felt a lot like editing: asking the right questions was key. Who will speak well and honestly to this sensitive subject? Will the CBC partner with us? (Yes!) How will the panel contribute to this valuable, ongoing dialogue? Who will be in charge of buying the cheese? The crackers?!

I soon became preoccupied with one question that we think will come up during the panel discussion.

Can authors or illustrators write about or illustrate cultures and races different from their own? 

This question brought me back to a children’s literature graduate course I took about five years ago. We were examining Sold, a contemporary middle-grade novel about child prostitution in Nepal. We contemplated whether the author, Patricia McCormick (a white American woman), had the right to tell this story—one that falls outside her own experience and culture. As far as I could tell, no one else had written such a narrative for the middle-grade readership; I felt it needed to be told. Patricia had visited India and interviewed women and girls who had been sold to brothels, preparing herself to authentically tell this story as best she could. I felt confident that she had done her due diligence. I valued her choice to write about this subject matter and hoped her book would affect a diverse readership—a testament to the idea that the human condition—both good and bad—similarly touches all cultures, in all parts of the world. Maybe some of those diverse readers would be even closer to the book’s reality than Patricia was able to get through her research. Maybe they’d be inspired to tell their own stories.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Diversity 101: Who's That Fat Kid?

Fat Politics and Children's Literature

Contributed to CBC Diversity by Rebecca Rabinowitz

My Personal Connection
I’m a fat person living in a virulently fatphobic culture. We’re soaking in it. The ubiquitous fear and hate of fatness is both glaring and invisible. It’s job discrimination; it’s insults from strangers on the street; it’s doctors who refuse to treat fat patients until we lose weight. I’m dedicated to fat politics, which is a social justice movement, and Fat Studies, which is a critical/academic lens.

In children’s books, fatness often symbolizes negativity. One common trope is the fat bully. Think of Dudley Dursley. Think of Dana, the fat bully in Carl Hiaasen’s Hoot. Think of Nazir Mohammad, the fat bully in Suzanne Fisher Staples’ Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind. Also common are fat victims. Think of Miranda in Cynthia Voigt’s When She Hollers – a fat girl who was terribly abused for years and has just committed suicide as the book opens. Miranda exists specifically to show Tish, the similarly-abused protagonist, what path not to take. Think of Dell in K.M. Walton’s Empty – a fat protagonist who’s raped, bullied, abandoned, and (like Voigt’s Miranda) driven to suicide. And think of Jake in Rebecca Fjelland Davis’s Jake Riley: Irreparably Damaged – Jake’s a fat bully and a fat victim. The tropes of fat bully and fat victim occur far too often to be random. Lest we think that any particular example might be random, textual evidence often specifically links the actual fatness with the negative trait, cementing the conflation. About Hoot’s fat bully: “This time Dana hit him with the other hand, equally fat and damp” [96]. About When She Hollers’ fat victim: "Tish had watched the fat girl lumbering out the doors and down the sidewalk to where the car waited. Waddle, waddle – her buns rolling up against one another – like a girl going down the hallway to the electric chair every day" [42]. Fatness is mapped onto negative characteristics as if it were some sort of profound literary symbol, and as if such mapping were harmless to people in the real world.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Diversity in the News

May 2nd—May 9th, 2013


2013 Diversity and Outreach Fair

Removing Barriers to Service for All: Creating Meaningful and Integrated Library Experiences for People with Disabilities

Held at ALA's Annual Conference every year, the Diversity and Outreach Fair is coordinated by the ALA Office for Literacy and Outreach Services as a way to provide, "an opportunity for libraries and member groups to share their successful diversity and outreach initiatives with ALA Annual Conference attendees, celebrate diversity in America’s libraries and exhibit “diversity in action” ideas."

With every new year the fair has a new theme. In general the fair "highlights library services to underserved or underrepresented communities [and past fairs have focused on]...poor and homeless populations; people of color; English-language learners; gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people; new Americans, new and non-readers; older adults; people living in rural areas; incarcerated people and ex-offenders; and mobile library services and bookmobiles." This year's theme is all about how libraries can and have created a better experience for people with disabilities.

The selected presenters at the fair will hold a poster session in the exhibits hall. If you are a library professional and have a successful diversity initiative to share concerning people with disabilities, ALA encourages you to submit your proposal by May 17th, 2013.

If you have any questions, contact the ALA Office for Literacy & Outreach Services at 800-545-2433, x2140 or email with any inquiries.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Children's Book Week CBC Diversity Event

As a part of the amazing line-up of events occurring during Children's Book Week (May 13-19, 2013), the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country, Charlesbridge Publishing has teamed up with the CBC Diversity Committee to host a special panel featuring  editors from Charlesbridge Publishing, Candlewick Press, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; as well as the inspiring author, Mitali Perkins; and the extremely talented illustrator, London Ladd

This intimate panel will be held in Watertown, Massachusetts and, unlike CBC Diversity events we've held in the past, this event is open to the public. See below for all of the important details and keep in mind that space is limited so registration is required.

Judging Covers

I’d like to use this blog post to do three things:
  1. State the obvious
  2. Preach to the choir while dancing on my soapbox
  3. Host a love fest
The issue is book covers. Some will argue that I am “beating a dead horse.” But this horse is still very much alive – and pulling a lot of weight. So here goes...


It’s a cliché, but true – people do judge books by their covers. This is especially true of young people who, in the age of Instagram and Facebook, are very image-focused. We all know book covers are our greatest sales tool. I believe book jackets are the single greatest determining factor of whether a kid will, or won’t, pick up a book. And when it comes to books featuring diversity characters and content, I believe a jacket’s power is doubly important in a book’s impact on readers – and in a book’s sales success.