Friday, August 30, 2013

CBC Diversity Newsletter

For your viewing pleasure, the Diversity in the News you've come to know and love has updated its style! All the same content will now be found in this beautiful magazine-style offering. Don't forget to sign up to get the digest in you e-mail inbox every week with a link to the formatted version at the bottom of the e-mail.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Microaggressions: Those Small Acts that Pack a Big, Negative Punch

Guest post by children's librarian at Bank Street College of Education, Allie Jane Bruce.

More and more, the word “microaggression” is cropping up in the world of children’s literature.  A “microaggression” —a term coined by Harvard professor Chester M. Pierce in 1970 — is a tiny act of bigotry. Examples include crossing the street when a dark-skinned stranger appears, giving a groan when the word “Feminism” comes up, or using “homo” as a synonym for “uncool” (Pierce used it to describe only race-related acts, but the word has evolved to encompass bigotry in general). Viewed individually, these acts are almost negligible; taken as a whole, they constitute an evolution of the very nature of bigotry, from overt, conscious and public bigotry to a more nebulous form that is hard to identify and even harder to acknowledge (Sue et al, 2007).

We who work in the field of children’s literature—librarians, teachers, booksellers, authors, illustrators, bloggers, publishers—must be aware of microaggressions. We constantly read aloud, recommend books, and do everything in our power to turn kids into bookworms. As fervently as we extoll the benefits of reading, we must also consider whether the books we love confirm kids’ dignity and worth as human beings, in ways small and large.

What one person perceives as a microaggression may be a non-entity to another. At what point does an incident become a microaggression? What responsibility do I, as a librarian and teacher, have to filter out potentially harmful books?  Is it better not to read something hurtful—or to read it, and then discuss it? These were questions with which I wrestled after a read-aloud incident a few months ago.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Industry Q&A with editor Phoebe Yeh

Please tell us about the most recent diverse book you published. 
The School for Good and Evil
by Soman Chainani

For the purposes of this response, I propose that we define “diversity” in a more expansive way.

I suggest that “diversity” should mean more than issue based books by authors of color about protagonists of color. (While I believe that these books are still needed, the definition of diversity in the 21st century needs to be broader. I encourage all of you to read Christopher Myers’ excellent Horn Book piece for more on this subject.

Please consider the work of the debut novelists Korean American Ellen Oh and Asian Indian Soman Chainani. They are part of a growing number of authors of color who are breaking boundaries with regard to the diversity of book content and genre.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Finding Diversity and My Voice with a Flashlight and a Pen

Guest post by author Angela Cervantes

I am an original flashlight girl. You know the type. Hours after parents called for bedtime; I was still up under my bedcovers with a flashlight reading a favorite book. Many times, those books under the covers with me were the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby books. The fact that the heroines of these books were white and I was Mexican American didn't stop me from enjoying these books and rereading them several times. However, the more I fell in love with reading the more I questioned why there weren’t books like these with Latino characters. At the time, I remember thinking of all the girls in my neighborhood who were just as funny, spunky and adventurous as Ramona, Lucy and Laura. Surely there were books about them out there, right?

Not so much.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Diversity in the News

August 2nd – August 9th, 2013




Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Industry Q&A with Robin Smith, children's book reviewer

When you were a child or young adult, what book first opened your eyes to the diversity of the world?

I think the first book I remember really opening my eyes was The Soul Brothers and Sister Lou. I have no idea how well it holds up over time.

What is your favorite diverse book that you recently read?

Since I am currently serving on a committee which looks at books from all over the globe, I have many books with diverse characters from all countries. I couldn't possible pick a "favorite," but a new book I think everyone should read is I Have the Right to Be a Child which is an illustrated book about UN Convention on the rights of the child. It is stunning.

If you could participate in a story time with any children’s book author or illustrator (alive or dead) who would it be?

I would love to have met and heard John Steptoe--I would love to hear him tell and talk about Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters, one of my favorite books of all time.

How do you introduce books featuring characters of color to parents and kids?

I really don't do anything different when I share books with characters of color to children, to tell you the truth.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Talking to Teens

Over the past few weeks, I got to spend time with a diverse group of teenagers from the Leave Out Violence organization and Writopia Lab, and in doing so I realized how little I interact with teenagers on a regular basis. Yet, my job and career revolve around making books for them. How can I possibly be making the best books for today’s teenagers when I don’t even know them?

Well, this was my chance to get to know them and find out what they loved, hated, made them passionate, and totally turned them off about books. And what I learned really surprised me and made me re-think the way I imagine the readers for my books and YA novels in general.
With both groups, I spread out a whole bunch of YA galleys to get their takes on covers. The galleys ranged from fantasy to historical to contemporary, from photographic to iconic to illustrated, from type driven to image driven. Almost unanimously, no one liked photographic faces on the cover – they all wanted to picture the characters in their own ways and didn’t want to be told right from the start what someone looked like. Fantasy fans told me our fantasy covers looked too much like everything else out there and didn’t tell them anything about what the story was actually about. Romance readers were put off by images of single girls in pretty dresses – again, this was something they’d seen too much already. They were put off by the New York Times bestseller headline because every book they see has that. If a book was trying too hard to appeal to a teen girl, they wanted nothing to do with it.

Diversity in the News

July 25th – August 2nd, 2013