2014 African-American Middle Grade & Young Adult Fiction Book Listcbcbooks.org
Author, blogger, and diversity advocate Zetta Elliott (‘The Deep’) sought to find out how many of the year’s young adult novels (estimated at 3,000 in the U.S.) were published by African American authors.
Multicultural Children's Book Day Spotlight: Meg Medinamulticulturalchildrensbookday.com
Meg Medina is the author of The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind and the picture book Tía Isa Wants a Car, illustrated by Claudio Muñoz, which won the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award. Her most recent young adult novel, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, is the winner of the 2014 Pura Belpré Author Award. The daughter of Cuban immigrants, she grew up in Queens, New York, and now lives in Richmond, Virginia.
As an author, how do you know when you have discovered an idea for your next book?
It’s a book when I start to dream about it at night. I go to bed working out a scene or thinking about a character.
Read the full interview here.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day and the CBC have collaborated to create the ‘Shining the Light on Inclusive Authors & Illustrators’ series, which features interviews with 20+ amazing authors and illustrators leading up to Multicultural Children’s Book Day on January 27th. Find more interviews on the Multicultural Children’s Book Day website.
Contributed to CBC Diversity by Tonya Cherie Hegamin
Human brains like to compartmentalize, and I believe that the term “diversity” serves to place people in boxes marked “other”. However, as individuals, the cultural, physical and learning differences we have must harmonize for survival. I expect to be addressed as a whole human, not one whose life circumstances make me ‘different’. Truly, “diversity” in its best light seeks to celebrate our differences, to acknowledge those on the margins of “normal”, but it does not necessarily seek to include all of us as we are. Would you choose to just be tolerated or to be wholly accepted as you are?
Personally, I consider myself to be beautifully complicated. On the surface, many people might think I’m Latina or biracial because of my skin color and hair. In reality I am multi-racial, just like so many other people. Once when I was five, a neighbor (who was white) asked me “What are you?” I didn’t understand—I asked my mother and she told me to say I was “black”. When I went back to my playmate, she informed me that I couldn’t be black because I didn’t look, act or sound black, and if I was black her parents would refuse to let her play with me. That’s a lot for a five year old to handle. Not just for me, but for this girl who was subjected to a binary world where some people were “acceptable” while others were not.
Diversity Matters: An ALA News You Can Use Sessioncbcbooks.org
Attending the ALA Midwinter Meeting? Don’t miss the Diversity Matters update, Stepping It Up With Action!, on February, 1st at 1PM.
When it comes to diversity in children’s publishing, it’s time to step it up! What concrete, hands-on solutions are working? How can we continue to implement positive strategies for success? Who are the architects of change, and what tools are they using?
This session will give Midwinter attendees an opportunity to learn more about the invitation only Day of Diversity: Dialogue and Action in Children’s Literature and Programming event outcomes and participate in laying the groundwork for a promising future. The focus of the discussion will be on practical strategies participants have successfully employed for increasing diversity awareness within the publishing and library communities. Therefore, attendees are encouraged to bring real examples and tangible ideas to create an equal exchange between the publishing and library world. The discussion will focus on key issues in diversity, children’s books, and librarianship.
Event Location: McCormick Place West
*The cost for the event is included with Midwinter conference registration.
Sponsors: ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children), ALA (American Library Association), The Children’s Book Council’s Diversity Committee
An “It’s Possible” post contributed to CBC Diversity by Jennifer M. Brown
“Each of us is born with a history already in place.” Those words open Walter Dean Myers’s memoir, Bad Boy. The word “history” applies to that of the individual child, born into a family and a set of circumstances. “History” is also tied to a physical place. Walter Dean Myers was profoundly aware of both.
He believed that individuals could change history; he watched them do it, and he was an instrument of change himself. He also had deep ties to his childhood home in Harlem. From his picture book Harlem, illustrated by his son Christopher Myers, to his Newbery Honor book Scorpions and the inaugural Printz winner, Monster, he wrote of Harlem’s glories and its sorrows. If you were lucky enough to hear him tell stories of his youth, he’d describe walking down the street and stopping to talk with Langston Hughes, and attending dances and sermons at “a shouting church,” immortalized in one of the poems in Walter’s collection Here in Harlem.
I was 21 and assistant to Bill Morris, director of library promotion at Harper & Row, when Bill introduced me to Walter. They made a comical pair. Bill, the Southern gentleman at 5'2", and Walter, a full foot (and then some) taller and a straight-shooter New Yorker. But they were great friends, and had the utmost respect for each other. From this vantage point, I got to hear Walter speak at numerous conferences. Wherever Walter went, he commanded a room, standing head and shoulders above most of the people in it. It wasn’t always what he said that made you tilt forward, trying to eavesdrop. It was the way he listened, followed by the concise response that conveyed how closely he’d listened, sometimes responding to what you hadn’t said.
An “It’s Possible” post contributed to CBC Diversity by Virginia Anagnos
I was a publicity assistant at Scholastic Inc., when I first became aware of Walter Dean Myers’ work. The book: Fallen Angels. My perspective on children’s literature was changed forever after reading the first few pages, and by the end of the book I was in awe of the man.
I met Walter a few years later while working on Brown Angels and the photographic exhibit based on the book, which traveled across the country. My first encounter with him exemplified our ensuing relationship.
He had refused a car service to Harlem for the opening of the Brown Angels exhibit, and we agreed to take the subway together to the publisher’s dismay. Hey, it was the early ‘90s—NYC subways were not what they are today.
We were looking over the media coverage when a fight broke out among some teens. Walter immediately tried to divert my attention by insisting I read the review in Newsday again. He kept tapping the newspaper and saying, “Read here, read here!”—while looking at the group, not realizing that the paper was upside down. I smiled and said “I’m a Queens girl. I’m not rattled by a little noise. I got your back.” (Amusing visual, since I am 5 feet petite to his over 6 foot frame.)
An “It’s Possible” post contributed to CBC Diversity by Regina Griffin
Whenever I think of Walter, I remember walking together. From the moment we met, we walked endlessly, tiptoeing like cartoon characters over the hot bricks of Centennial Park in Atlanta, strolling down the River Walk in San Antonio, giddy after a speech’s end, striding up steep hills in San Francisco, with Walter practically lifting me up, because my feet could not stay in the slip-on shoes I had insisted on wearing. We walked all over Chicago, listening to blues music, delighting in crowds celebrating not one, not two, but the three-peat of Bulls victories, though Walter’s heart would always remain with the Knicks of Earl “the Pearl” Monroe and “Clyde” Frazier.
We walked the long avenues of Washington, DC, sometimes in 100-degree weather, sometimes in light snow. Once we arrived after an actual blizzard hit and somehow managed to make it to Anacostia for an Open Book event. That event was made unforgettable by some struggling young dads who got there against the odds, even if it meant carrying their children through more than a foot of snow on uncleared streets and sidewalks. Walter Dean Myers was coming. They weren’t going to miss him.
Walter and I became colleagues, editor + writer, and friends during our walks. He was curious about everything, and so we spoke about anything: the best point guards, school reform, the latest Conor McPherson play, Delta versus Piedmont blues, Matisse’s book Jazz, slavery in New York State, new finds for Walter’s ephemera collection, which of us loved W.B. Yeats more, the boxers, Walt Whitman’s poems, ships of the line and how scary it must have been to be a powder monkey on them.
An “It’s Possible” post contributed to CBC Diversity by Phoebe Yeh
The very first project I worked on with Walter illuminates a lot about our collaborations together. It was 1994. Walter had already received acclaim for his realistic fiction (the Newbery Honor books, Scorpions and Somewhere in the Darkness) and Now is Your Time, a work of ground-breaking non-fiction (to name a very, very few). Somehow, I had come across The Dragon Takes a Wife, a picture book Walter had written in 1972 starring Harry, a hapless dragon and Mabel Mae, a jive-talking African American fairy who tries to help Harry defeat the African American knight in shining armor. Here was another way to think about the classic medieval tale. I loved the way Walter had re-invented the traditional story and thought, we need to bring this book back. It’s a perennial storyline. It’s funny. It’s fantasy and it offers a perspective readers seemed to have forgotten, at least in the nineties. (Of course Walter had already figured this out in 1972. We obviously had some catching up to do.)
An “It’s Possible” post contributed to CBC Diversity by Miriam Altshuler
Walter Dean Myers and I began working together over twenty-five years ago.
At the time, diversity in publishing was not discussed nearly as much as it is today. Even back then, Walter understood the need for all children to have their stories told in books that mirrored their diverse lives. Walter’s own story of growing up is well known and comes to life particularly in his memoir, Bad Boy. He and I spoke often about his desire for young readers to have books in which they could see and understand themselves. He knew early on how important this was for every child, and he wrote about the children he understood so well: African Americans who grew up in urban areas, and children who needed to read and learn from books just like he did while growing up in Harlem. He also wrote for all reluctant readers and children who did not have parents or other people in their lives to read to them. He wanted everyone to have books to read (no matter their color or background), but most of all, he wrote for young African American boys.
ALSC to Host Día Get Together Facebook Chatscbcbooks.org
ALSC is hosting a series of Día Get Together Facebook chats, leading up to the Día celebration in April. These virtual chats will provide an opportunity for librarians, teachers, and the general public to learn more about the celebration and ask questions of those with experience in Día programming.
The first Día Get Together is slated for January 15th, at 2 pm EST,on the Día Facebook page.
ALSC Announces ‘Building Steam with Día’ Book Listscbcbooks.org
The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) has announced a new book list with an emphasis on Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts, & Math subjects. The ‘Building STEAM with Día’ book lists are geared toward children from birth to the 8th grade, and will complement El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Día) programming.
In a letter addressed to the late Walter Dean Myers, Andrea Davis Pinkney – VP and Executive Editor of Trade at Scholastic – introduces next week’s “It’s Possible” series, where five inspiring publishing professionals will share a little bit of their experience with Walter and how working with him helped push his goal of more diverse literature forward. Check back every day next week for new posts.
You always had a story to tell. One of my favorites was about the time you spent as a child with your foster mother reading True Romance magazine. This was the beginning of your beginning. Hearing stories being read aloud made an impression that lasted a lifetime. You called this childhood introduction to reading a gift.
I remember thinking, Walter, you are a gift.
Around that time, you were writing Sunrise Over Fallujah, a novel that centers on the war in Iraq, and is the second novel in what has come to be called your “war trilogy.” It is the stunning companion to your seminal Vietnam War novel, Fallen Angels. With each stage of the editing and revision, you delivered your gift ― you poured keen insight into those pages, and made us think about war’s devastating effects. Your gifts continued to come forth while we worked together on your middle grade Cruisers series, and then on one of your final novels, Invasion, a book set during World War II, which completes your war trilogy.
Yes, yes, Walter, you are a gift who shared your deepest self.
You were a Renaissance man from Harlem. And, like a fascinating rhythm on the A train to 125th Street, you brought us along on your Renaissance ride, as beautiful as the jazz played in the uptown neighborhood you so often celebrated in your books.
As an author who is still learning my craft, I sought your advice on the stories I’d written and how best to render them. Walter, you are a gift who told me that the books we write shape a child’s self-image, and have a lasting impact on the souls and psyches of young readers.
Celebrating the Tomboys of Children’s Literaturecbcbooks.org
Jo March. Scout Finch. Harriet M. Welsch. The tomboys of children’s literature hold an undeniable charm, defying gender roles and having a blast while doing so. Megan Mayhew-Bergman examines the tomboy protagonist and finds that she is a figure of empowerment.
Embracing the Modern Female Heroine – In All Her Forms
As a children’s publishing professional, I will openly confess that the YA genre can sometimes exhaust me. Of course there are many great, original, and incredible voices in the world of YA fiction, but as I’m entrenched in so many YA manuscripts day in and day out in the world of marketing, it’s rare that a book will stand out among the masses and connect to me on a real, personal level. After all, you have to admit there are so very many YA books out there about the imperfectly perfect heroine encountering a series of struggles in her journey toward true love (occasionally amongst the threat of a dystopian apocalypse…naturally), that it can be overkill after a while.
And then this week I read Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl (I’m very late on the Rowell bandwagon, but I’m so there now). And I fell in literary love. The main character Cather was one of the most real, affecting characters I’ve encountered as of recent – an introverted, slightly awkward, nervous, but still strong-willed girl from Omaha, Nebraska, finding her way through college on her own terms. As an introverted, slightly awkward, nervous, but still strong-willed girl from Omaha, Nebraska myself, let’s just say Cather naturally felt very personal to me, and I wish I had this book as a manual my freshman year of college. Cather constantly pushes against what she’s told she’s supposed to be in college, and faces a series of very real struggles to maintain her personal identity in a world where who you become as a woman is supposed to be a defined path of frat parties, cramming for finals, and the inevitable freshman 15.