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1. Using Media Literacy to Examine Diversity In Literature

Guest BloggerIn this guest post, author and media literacy expert Tina L. Peterson, Ph.D., demonstrates how media literacy skills can help readers think deeply about diversity in books.

When I was a kid, I rarely paid attention to the ethnicities of characters in my favorite books. I probably assumed that, because I related to them, they were like me – white, suburban, and middle class. Despite the fact that many of my classmates and close friends were Latino and Asian, it didn’t occur to me that the characters in most books I read didn’t represent the mix of people in my life.

It was only when I got hooked on The Baby-Sitters Club series that I began to notice book characters’ ethnicities. Author Ann M. Martin incorporated characters of color in a way that gave each person a voice, rather than making non-white characters part of the backdrop to a white protagonist’s experience. The character Jessi Ramsey felt like my first black friend.

As I grew up I began reading in a more critical way, and questioning the stories and characters I encountered. In college I learned that the skills I was developing had a name: media literacy. This type of literacy can encourage young people to think about the representations they see in books, and identify perspectives that are emphasized as well as those that may be missing. It can help young readers (and the adults who guide them) appreciate the value of diversity in children’s literature.

Media literacy is an approach to education that encourages active reading/viewing and critical evaluation of media messages of all types including books, TV shows, video games, movies, music, and social media. Three of the five key questions of media literacy can guide discussions of children’s books:

DIVERSITY through the MEDIA LITERACY LENSWho created this message?

All too often, an author is just a name on a cover, and readers don’t think about the people who write the stories they enjoy. Encouraging young people to learn about their favorite authors can help them understand whose perspectives they are seeing. How many are black, or Latino, or Asian? How many are men, and how many are women?

This discussion doesn’t have to lead to tokenism in a reading list, but rather to an awareness of who tells the stories they enjoy. It’s also useful for children to learn that they can relate to an author who might seem different from them.

What lifestyles, values and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?

The answer to this question varies widely in books for children as well as adults. For example, the points of view represented in a Nancy Drew novel (white, female, affluent) are in stark contrast to those in one of Matt de la Peña’s books (Latino, male, working class).

Encouraging students to identify perspectives that are emphasized or missing from the books they read can help them expand their horizons and imagine other world-views. In addition, seeking out books that include points of view they don’t usually encounter can cultivate empathy.

How might different people understand this message differently from me?

As Hamlet suggests to Horatio, ‘there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’ Young readers should be encouraged to share with their peers the meanings they make of books, and the knowledge that informs those meanings.

Many may be surprised that another’s interpretation differs from their own. A book that incorporates Spanish or Arabic words may be understood differently by a child who speaks one of those languages at home. A black child who has heard about racial discrimination or experienced it firsthand might read a story about Rosa Parks differently than a white child would.

Media literacy education encourages critical reading and consideration of diverse points of view. It’s a productive and useful approach given the increasingly global everyday culture of the 21st century, when young people may encounter difference in their peers more than any generation did before them. Media literacy and intentional diversity in children’s literature can ensure that difference is treated as an opportunity for learning.


Tina PetersonTina L. Peterson, Ph.D. is the author of Oscar and the Amazing Gravity Repellent (Capstone) and serves on the leadership council of the National Association for Media Literacy Education. More information is available at tinalpeterson.com

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2. Valentine’s Day Poetry Generator

heart1Write a Valentine’s Day Poem!

It’s almost Valentine’s Day! If you want a quick gift idea that is thoughtful and creative, then here’s a little activity you can try. Write a poem!

Here are three types of poems with instructions how to write them. You pick the type of poem you like best and write one for someone you care about. It could be for a family member, a friend, or even a secret crush . . . shhh! Don’t worry! I won’t tell.

Valentine's day poetry generatorLyric: a rhyming poem that expresses personal feelings. It can be as many lines as your heart desires. Here’s an example:

Your love is warm and holds me tight,
Making our moments together just right.
So thank you, Mom, for being you.
Being your daughter is a dream come true.

Haiku: a Japanese poem that has 17 syllables divided into three lines consisting of 5, 7, and 5 syllables on each line. Here’s an example:

The color purple
Reminds me of an orchid.
It’s pretty like you.

Acrostic: a poem where the first, last, or other letters of each line spells out a word or phrase. The word or phrase can be as long as you like. Here’s an example:

LOVE
Like the way the sun caresses my skin,
Our friendship is warm and comforting.
Vividly, I remember our happiest moments
Eating cupcakes and sharing jokes.

YOU
You’re my best friend for so many reasons.
Obviously, we make the best pair.
Uniquely, being you is perfect.

Now it’s your turn. Which type of poem will you write? Leave a Comment with your new poem below. When you’re finished, copy it in a card and send it to the person you wrote it for. Good luck, poets!

-Sandy

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3. Trump Tries in New Hampshire

Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Trump Tries in New Hampshire by Stone Shen

On February 2, more than 3,000 Donald Trump supporters crammed into an athletic club in Milford, New Hampshire to hear the Republican candidate speak. The place was buzzing with excitement. Before Trump came on, a group of people went onto the stage and delivered speeches. This included some of Trump’s campaign managers and former United States Senator Scott Brown.

This rally was important because it was right after the Iowa Caucus, in which Trump finished second. Trump said that he was pleased with the final standing in Iowa, although he has complained elsewhere that the process was unfair.

At the rally, Trump promised to make “big, big cuts in taxes to the middle class.” When asked about his position on gun control, he said, “We’re going to protect ourselves by protecting the Second Amendment.” The Second Amendment says that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”

ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION
One main topic was illegal immigration. Trump said that he did not oppose immigration. Rather, he just wants immigrants to settle in the U.S. legally.

One Trump supporter with whom I spoke said, “I like his immigration policy. He wants to secure the borders and make people come in the way they used to. You come in, get a job, you support yourself, and you contribute to this country.”

Trump stood by his decision to not participate in the final Republican debate before the Iowa Caucus. That decision was said to have contributed to his defeat to Ted Cruz. Trump said that he had been proud to hold a fundraising event for veterans at the same time as the debate, raising 6 million dollars.

“I like how he is trying to support the country,” said Pearse Wojczak, a young Trump fan from Connecticut, “and how he is trying to protect us.”

Trump ended the rally with a look toward the New Hampshire Primary, saying, “I expect to win.”

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4. The Catharine Stimpson Prize for Outstanding Feminist Scholarship

Signs-try-e1349357333542

From our colleagues at Signs:

The University of Chicago Press and Signs are pleased to announce the competition for the 2017 Catharine Stimpson Prize for Outstanding Feminist Scholarship. Named in honor of the founding editor of Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, the Catharine Stimpson Prize is designed to recognize excellence and innovation in the work of emerging feminist scholars.

The Catharine Stimpson Prize is awarded biennially to the best paper in an international competition. Leading feminist scholars from around the globe will select the winner. The prizewinning paper will be published in Signs, and the author will be provided an honorarium of $1,000. All papers submitted for the Stimpson Prize will be considered for peer review and possible publication in Signs.

Eligibility: Feminist scholars in the early years of their careers (fewer than seven years since receipt of the terminal degree) are invited to submit papers for the Stimpson Prize. Papers may be on any topic that falls under the broad rubric of interdisciplinary feminist scholarship. Submissions must be no longer than 10,000 words (including notes and references) and must conform to the guidelines for Signs contributors.

Deadline for Submissions: March 1, 2016.

Please submit papers online at http://signs.edmgr.com. Be sure to indicate submission for consideration for the Catharine Stimpson Prize. The honorarium will be awarded upon publication of the prizewinning article.

Papers may also be submitted by post to

The Catharine Stimpson Prize Selection Committee
Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society
Northeastern University
360 Huntington Avenue
263 Holmes Hall
Boston, MA 02115

To visit the Signs site, click here.

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5. Adventures in Babysitting

adventures in babysittingAdventures in Babysitting, inspired by the hugely popular 1980s film of the same name, is an upcoming Disney Channel Original Movie starring Sabrina Carpenter (from Girl Meets World) and Sofia Carson (from Descendants).  It is set to premiere in 2016 on Disney Channel.

In Adventures in Babysitting, a dull evening for two competing babysitters, Jenny (Sabrina Carpenter) and Lola (Sofia Carson), turns into an adventure in the big city as they hunt for one of the kids who somehow snuck away. Talk about a babysitter’s nightmare!

Are you excited for this new Disney Channel movie? Tell us in the Comments.

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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6. Remembering Francisco Alarcón

Beloved poet and educator Francisco X. Francisco X Alarcon Alarcón passed away on January 15, 2016. Francisco was a prolific writer of poetry for children and adults. Born in California and raised in Mexico, Francisco’s poems explore his Chicano identity and celebrate the double joy of being a poet in two languages. His awards include multiple Pura Belpré Honors as well the Chicano Literary Prize and the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award. His passing is a great loss to the world of Latino literature.

We asked some of the authors and artists who knew Francisco to share their memories of him:

Jorge ArguetaJorge Argueta, Author

I met Francisco X. Alarcón in the early 80’s, shortly after I arrived to San Francisco from El Salvador. Panchito was already a well known poet. He was a member of the Roque Dalton Cultural Brigade along with other poets, Alejandro Murguia (founder of the Brigade and current Poet Laureate of San Francisco), the current Poet Laureate of the United States, Juan Felipe Herrera, Jack Hirschman, Barbara Paschke and David Volpendesta.

I met Francisco at the place where most of us gathered, Café La Boheme in San Francisco’s Mission District. Francisco baptized this coffee house “The Cathredal of poetry.”

Francisco teaching young people.
Francisco teaching young people.

I traveled with Francisco four times to El Salvador, to participate in the Annual International Children’s Poetry Festival “Manyula.” Francisco was so happy to contribute. He shared with me the vision that through the gentle power of poetry we could help Salvadoran children and youth stay away from violence and have hope for a better future. Francisco did readings, lectures and poetry workshops for children, youth and teachers.

Years earlier he helped me organize the poems I would publish in my first children’s poetry book, A Movie in my Pillow. I will always be thankful to Francisco for his guidance and recommendations for this book. He truly loved El Salvador, its people, landscape and food.

Francisco at Monsignor Romero's Crypt
Francisco at Monsignor Romero’s Crypt

One day on a break from the festival we walked the short distance from the library, where the festival is held to the San Salvador Cathedral to pay a visit to Monsignor Romero’s crypt (El Salvador’s beloved priest who was assassinated by right wing death squads in the 80’s). Francisco was deeply moved to see his tomb and wrote a poem about this special visit. He shed tears and said to me, “I understand why El Salvador must continue to struggle for justice.”

That evening a wonderful full moon shone in the Salvadoran sky. Francisco laughed with his loud magical smile and said, “Here even the moon is a pupusa*.”

*El Salvador’s most popular food – A round tortilla made with corn dough, stuffed with beans, cheese and other ingredients.


Rene Colato LainezRené Colato Laínez, Author

I first met Francisco X Alarcón through his children’s books in my bilingual classroom at Fernangeles Elementary School. All of my students were from Latino families. Most of them were born in the USA. The rest of the students were recent immigrants from Latin America. I loved to read Francisco’s books because in them my students could find their culture, traditions, and as Francisco said, “Their roots/ Sus raices.”

At that time, my students called me, “The Teacher Full of Stories/ El maestro lleno de cuentos”, because I was always telling stories and turning them into books for the classroom. Francisco’s books were a great inspiration to write my own stories.

René Colato Laínez, Francisco X Alarcón, Margarita Robleda and Jorge Argueta
René Colato Laínez, Francisco X Alarcón, Margarita Robleda and Jorge Argueta

I had the big opportunity to meet Francisco in person at the CABE Conference (California Association for Bilingual Education). I was so excited to meet him. He was my rock star writer! I shared with him and the other authors who were also signing books, Amada Irma

Perez and Juan Felipe Herrera, my desire to write books. Francisco told me to keep writing and one day perhaps I will be sitting and signing books with them too.

Those words inspired me to keep writing and submitting my manuscripts for publication. It was a challenge process to publish a book but I did it. Francisco was right! Now I was signing books next to him and other amazing authors.

Francisco and Rene
Francisco and Rene

In 2010 author Jorge Argueta funded a children poetry festival in my native country, El Salvador. As a Salvadoran children’s book author, Jorge invited me to participate in the poetry festival. Margarita Robleda and Francisco X Alarcón were the other two pillars for this amazing festival that we do every year in El Salvador. Many Salvadoran authors also joined us to create the International

Children’s Poetry Festival (Internacional Festival de Poesía Infantil).

Francisco loved El Salvador. During the civil war, he helped recent Salvadoran immigrants in San Francisco. Now, he was in El Salvador visiting and reading his books to children from different parts of the country.

We always had a great time in El Salvador reading our books, eating pupusas, taking pictures, walking around San Salvador, and swimming at the beach.

I will always remember him. Francisco X. Alarcón, descansa en paz amigo.


Maya Christina GonzalezMaya Christina Gonzalez, Author and Illustrator

Maya wrote on her blog, “Francisco X. Alarcón let go of his body January 15. His passing is moving me very much. I am finishing drawings on our latest book together. A book of days. I look at spending the next few months very intimately sitting with Francisco as the arte unfolds. I am so sad.”

francisco-x-alarcon

Watch Maya and Francisco talk about their work together:


Louise May, Editorial Director at Lee & Low

Francisco was a joyous force of nature with a generous spirit. His works for children radiate love and celebrate family, all kinds of families. I am always amazed at how his poems continue to delight and often catch you by surprise. We are proud to be the custodians of his children’s poetry collections so that generations to come may get to read his work. And I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with him. Always an experience!


Francisco, you will be missed.

Discover Francisco’s books for young readers:

Poems to Dream Together/ Poemas para soñar juntos

Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems / Jitomates risueños y otros poemas de primavera

From the Bellybutton of the Moon and Other Summer Poems/ Del ombligo de la luna y otros poemas de verano

Angels Ride Bikes and Other Fall Poems/ Los Ángeles Andan en Bicicleta y otros poemas de otoñ

Iguanas in the Snow and Other Winter Poems/ Iguanas en la nieve y otros poemas de invierno

Animal Poems of the Iguazú/ Animalario del Iguazú

 

 

 

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7. Free e-book for February: Outside the Gates of Eden

9780226313153

Our free e-book for February:
Peter Bacon Hales’s Outside the Gates of Eden: The Dream of America from Hiroshima to Now

Download your copy here.

***

Exhilaration and anxiety, the yearning for community and the quest for identity: these shared, contradictory feelings course through Outside the Gates of Eden, Peter Bacon Hales’s ambitious and intoxicating new history of America from the atomic age to the virtual age.

Born under the shadow of the bomb, with little security but the cold comfort of duck-and-cover, the postwar generations lived through—and led—some of the most momentous changes in all of American history. Hales explores those decades through perceptive accounts of a succession of resonant moments, spaces, and artifacts of everyday life—drawing unexpected connections and tracing the intertwined undercurrents of promise and peril. From sharp analyses of newsreels of the first atomic bomb tests and the invention of a new ideal American life in Levittown; from the music emerging from the Brill Building and the Beach Boys, and a brilliant account of Bob Dylan’s transformations; from the painful failures of communes and the breathtaking utopian potential of the early days of the digital age, Hales reveals a nation, and a dream, in transition, as a new generation began to make its mark on the world it was inheriting.

Full of richly drawn set-pieces and countless stories of unforgettable moments, Outside the Gates of Eden is the most comprehensive account yet of the baby boomers, their parents, and their children, as seen through the places they built, the music and movies and shows they loved, and the battles they fought to define their nation, their culture, and their place in what remains a fragile and dangerous world.

To read more about Outside the Gates of Eden, click here.

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8. Author/Illustrator Lulu Delacre Take Us Behind the Art of ¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! / Olinguito, from A to Z! : Descubriendo el bosque nublado / Unveiling the Cloud Forest

Alto, allá arriba en los Andes brilla un bosque bordado de bromelias…
High up in the Andes blooms a brilliant forest embroidered with bromeliads . . .

Set to be released this spring, ¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! / Olinguito, from A to Z! : Descubriendo el bosque nublado / Unveiling the Cloud Forest takes readers into the magical world of a cloud forest in the Andes of Ecuador. We discover the bounty of plants, animals, and other organisms that live there as we help a zoologist look for the elusive olinguito, the first new mammal species identified in the Americas since 1978. It has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews, which called it “a breath of fresh air in the too-often-contrived world of bilingual books.”

olinguito, from A to Z

We asked Lulu to take us behind the scenes of her exquisite art process to make the cloud forest come alive:

I spent an average of ten days working from eight to ten hours per day creating each spread.

sketch 1
Click for larger image

The first thing I did was to transfer the sketch to the Arches watercolor paper. Then I decided which areas would be collaged printed patterns and which would be painted in flat acrylic colors.

I prepared the patterned backgrounds pressing leaves gathered in the cloud forest dipped in ink and stamped onto rice paper.

sketch 2
Click for larger image

With an X-Acto knife I cut out the shapes of texturized paper and pasted them into the background. I used archival glue and micro tweezers to affix the collage elements in their precise positions.

sketch3
Click for larger image

Next I prepared all the shades of acrylics that I would need for the spread and stored them in small clear jars. Each section of a color required several thin coats to achieve the rich look I was looking for. 

sketch 4
Click for larger image

Once the spread was entirely painted I had fun selecting pressed ferns from the forest to affix to the art. This was a delicate process as some of the pressed leaves and ferns are paper thin.

sketch 5
Click for larger image

The last thing was to create the letters for the spread. I wanted a layered look, recreating the natural layers of flora in the forest, so I drew the letters on vellum paper and cut out them out. I taped the letters onto a vellum square and with careful precision affixed the letter in the spot it was intended to be. 

final illustration
Click for larger image

Check out the final spread!

Lulu Delacre has worked with LEE & LOW BOOKS on several award-winning titles, including the Pura Belpré award-winning titles The Storyteller’s Candle/La velita de los cuentos and Arrorró, mi niño: Latino Lullabies and Gentle GamesHow Far Do You Love Me? (English and Spanish), and Jay and Ben. Delacre has been named a Maryland Woman in the Arts and served as a juror for the 2003 National Book Awards. A native of Puerto Rico, Delacre lives with her husband in Silver Spring, Maryland. For more information about Lulu Delacre visit luludelacre.com.

You can purchase a copy of ¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! / Olinguito, from A to Z! : Descubriendo el bosque nublado / Unveiling the Cloud Forest on our website here.

1 Comments on Author/Illustrator Lulu Delacre Take Us Behind the Art of ¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! / Olinguito, from A to Z! : Descubriendo el bosque nublado / Unveiling the Cloud Forest, last added: 2/3/2016
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9. Book Wars: Out of My Mind vs. Wonder

Book warsBook Wars: Out of My Mind vs. Wonder

Today we will be comparing two amazing books: Out Of My Mind and Wonder. You may think that think that Out Of My Mind and Wonder are the same, but they are very different.

The two main characters Auggie and Melody both have physical disabilities. These disabilities don’t stop them from still being very bright children. They both want to be apart of the big group with so-called “normal” kids. After many attempts they were rejected.

In Out of My Mind, Melody continues to try different ways to work around her disabilities. Instead of giving up, Melody joins a trivia group with “normal” kids. Melody is then accepted. Melody accepts how she is and deals with what she can do.

In Wonder on the other hand, Auggie just gives up because he feels he is not wanted at school. He thinks about what he wants to be, not what he can do with his disabilities.

Read these books to figure out the true stories of these wonderful characters.

Michael, Scholastic Kids Council

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10. Super Bowl

SuperbowlGet ready for the biggest football game of the year!

As you know, the Super Bowl is almost here. The 50th Super Bowl football game will be played on Sunday, February 7. The Denver Broncos will battle the Carolina Panthers, so I thought we could round up some of the best football facts and fun from the STACKS. Here are a few things for you to do to get ready for the big game.

  • Take this Super Bowl trivia quiz.
  • Play the Game Changers football game.
  • Get the latest football books from Scholastic.
  • Leave a Comment telling us which team you are rooting for in Super Bowl 50!
  • Or if you prefer animal sports, will you be watching the Kitten Bowl on Hallmark Channel, or Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet?

kittenbowl

puppy-bowl

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of Hallmark Channel and Animal Planet

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11. What is an Air Guitar?

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The University of Chicago Press: you’ve got the answer(s), we’ve got the question(s).

(And by questions, I mean Dave Hickey’s other books.)

        Untitled

To read more about The Invisible Dragon, click here.

To read more about 25 Women: Essays on Their Art, click here.

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12. Year of the Monkey: Books and Activities for Chinese New Year

2016 Chinese New Year is Monday, February 8th and it’s the year of the Monkey. How can you celebrate with students?

Cross-Curricular Activities

Here are some ideas to help you and your students get involved with reading and writing about the Chinese New Year.  Additional ideas can be found in individual book teacher guides and the LEE & LOW Chinese New Year Resource Guide for Teachers.

Art:

  1. Explain that the Chinese dragon represents strength and goodness. The dragon appears at the end of the New Year parade to wish everyone peace, wealth, and good luck. Have students draw a picture of a Chinese dragon and describe the dragon in a paragraph. Instruct students to draw the dragon so it has the features of several creatures. Chinese dragons often have the scales of a fish, the beard of a goat, the claws of an eagle, and the body of a snake. For an excellent and more detailed lesson on drawing a Chinese dragon, check out the Art Institute of Chicago.
  2. Provide students with construction paper, tissue paper, colored cotton balls, crayons, safety scissors, glue, and other art supplies to make their own lanterns, masks, flags, and other items for a Chinese Lunar New Year Parade. Several students may even wish to work together to make a lion or a dragon. Let students carry their creations and hold their own parade. You may wish to download some Chinese music to play during the festivities.

Science:

  1. For the New Year, Chinese children are given red envelopes with brand-new money inside. Make a solution of 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/4 cup salt in a nonmetal bowl. Let students drop pennies into the solution, wait a few minutes, then remove and dry the coins with a paper towel. Students will have shiny “new” pennies to wrap in red paper and give as gifts to their friends and families.
  2. The Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar as opposed to the solar calendar. Have students investigate the two calendars and compare them using a Venn diagram. Why does the Chinese New Year fall on a different date each year?

Writing:

  1. Encourage students to describe a New Year’s celebration that they spent with their families. What kind of activities took place? How did they celebrate?
  2. Have students write an original story about a holiday they celebrate.

Social Studies:

  1. Many video clips of Chinese Lunar New Year parades are available online. One example is from the History Channel. If possible, let students view one or more of these to see a real parade. Have students describe the excitement, preparation, and festivities of the parade.
  2. Teach students about the history of Chinese Americans. When did they first immigrate to the United States? What were the reasons they left their homeland? In which cities did they settle? What were the origins of Chinatowns? What challenges did Chinese people and Chinese Americans face in the United States? One place to learn more is the timeline of Chinese in America from the Museum of Chinese in America.
  3. Have students locate China on a map or globe and tell students that China is one of the largest countries in the world. Have students mark the capital of China, as well as their location in the United States. On what continent is China? Which countries border China? What are some major rivers in China? What seas and ocean border China?
  4. Explore the 12-year cycle of the Chinese lunar calendar with EDSITEment’s lesson on the Chinese Zodiac and video, “Why the Rat Comes First: A Lunar New Year Story,” from the Asian Art Museum.

Math:

  1. Students may enjoy learning how to write the Chinese characters for the numerals 1 through 10. Here are the characters for 1 through 10 from the BBC for students.
  2. Write the Mandarin numbers, their pronunciations, and their numerical equivalents on the whiteboard. Have students practice saying the number words until they are familiar with their pronunciations and meanings. Then give students simple math problems  to solve using these number words. For extra challenge, encourage students to write a simple math problem in Chinese and share with their peers to try.

Books for Chinese New Year

(Download the list as a PDF here).

SPOTLIGHT: The Magical Monkey King: Mischief in Heaven This is an adaption perfect for elementary schools of one of China’s favorite classics, Journey to the West. This Monkey is arrogant, bold, clever, and hilarious. Every child in China grows up listening to stories of the irrepressible Monkey King. Join Monkey as he wins his title as King of the Monkeys, studies with a great sage to learn the secrets of immortality, and even takes on the job as a royal gardener in the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

Chinatown Adventure A young Chinese American girl is spending the day in Chinatown with her mother. With so many interesting things to buy, how will she spend her money?

 

 

D is for Doufu: An Alphabet Book of Chinese Culture and I Love China: A Companion Book to D is for Doufu This book introduces readers to Chinese culture, beliefs, and legends in today’s context. It explores the meanings of 23 Chinese words and phrases while providing an interesting historical and cultural background.

 

 

 

Golden Dragon Parade Chinese New Year is here. Come along to the Golden Dragon Parade.

 

 

 

Sam and the Lucky Money Sam can hardly wait to go shopping with his mom. It’s Chinese New Year’s day and his grandparents have given him the traditional gift of lucky money. Yet, Sam discovers that sometimes the best gifts come from the heart.

 

 

 

The Day the Dragon Danced Sugar and her Grandma are going to the Chinese New Year’s Day parade, but Grandma is skeptical about New Year’s in February and scary dragons.

 

 

 

 The Dragon Lover and Other Chinese Proverbs These proverbs are used in everyday Chinese life to illustrate moments of humor or clarity in our actions. Each of the five stories collected here feature animals that help readers shed light on the truths of human nature.

 

 

 

The Monster in the Mudball When Jin’s little brother is kidnapped by the monster Zilombo, Jin teams up with Chief Inspector of Ancient Artifacts Mizz Z on the streets of England to find him and defeat the monster.

 

 

 

The Wishing Tree Every Lunar New Year, Ming and his grandmother visited the Wishing Tree. Grandmother warned him to wish carefully, and sure enough, Ming’s wishes always seemed to come true. But one year—when Ming made the most important wish of his life—the tree let him down. 

(Download the full book list and activities as a PDF here).

Chinese New Year

Jill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Specialist, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language for second through sixth grade in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in the Bay Area, CA as a Teach for America corps member where she became passionate about best practices for supporting English Language Learners and parent engagement. In her column for Lee & Low’s The Open Book blog, she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.

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13. Books to Read for Valentine's Day

heart4Valentine’s Day Book Picks for Ages 8-12

February has me thinking about Valentine’s Day, and while I’m not really a mushy, love-y kind of girl, sometimes I like a good story about everyday, typical kids in real, true to life situations. Here are three not-super-mushy books to get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day this year.

Sit Stay Love Sit, Stay, Love: A Wish Novel by J.J. Howard

Puppy love was never so complicated! A funny and heartwarming story about a meet-cute at a pet shelter.

The Boy Problem
The Boy Problem by Kami Kinard

From Kami Kinard comes an illustrated companion novel to The Boy Project that further explores what it’s like to be a 12-year-old girl looking for the perfect crush. The Boy Problem: Notes and Predictions of Tabitha Reddy is a laugh-out-loud peek in the life of a precocious and bubbly girl. Full of illustrations and doodles, hilarious formulas and equations, as well as lessons in life, love, friendship, and baking, this diary will have you laughing and crying at the same time.

Romeo Blue
Romeo Blue
by Phoebe Stone

Secrets, spies and sleuthing abound in this follow-up to Phoebe Stone’s The Romeo and Juliet Code. When Flissy Budwig’s parents first dropped her off in Bottlebay, Maine, she hated everything about it. Most of all, she hated knowing that she was safe in America while her parents faced the guns of WWII in Europe. Especially when she discovered her parents were spies. Especially when she learned her parents were missing.

But a year has passed now, and Flissy has grown to love life in Bottlebay and grown to love Derek, the boy the Bathburns have adopted. Then a man claiming to be Derek’s true father arrives, and soon he’s asking all sorts of strange questions. Flissy has a nose for trouble. Has Derek’s new father come to take him away from Flissy forever, or is there something even more sinister afoot in Bottlebay, Maine?

What books are YOU reading this month? Tell us in the Comments!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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14. Books to Read for Valentine’s Day

Recommend me!Valentine’s Day Book Picks for Ages 8-12

February has me thinking about Valentine’s Day, and while I’m not really a mushy, love-y kind of girl, sometimes I like a good story about everyday, typical kids in real, true to life situations. Here are three not-super-mushy books to get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day this year.

Sit Stay Love Sit, Stay, Love: A Wish Novel by J.J. Howard

Puppy love was never so complicated! A funny and heartwarming story about a meet-cute at a pet shelter.

The Boy Problem
The Boy Problem by Kami Kinard

From Kami Kinard comes an illustrated companion novel to The Boy Project that further explores what it’s like to be a 12-year-old girl looking for the perfect crush. The Boy Problem: Notes and Predictions of Tabitha Reddy is a laugh-out-loud peek in the life of a precocious and bubbly girl. Full of illustrations and doodles, hilarious formulas and equations, as well as lessons in life, love, friendship, and baking, this diary will have you laughing and crying at the same time.

Romeo Blue
Romeo Blue
by Phoebe Stone

Secrets, spies and sleuthing abound in this follow-up to Phoebe Stone’s The Romeo and Juliet Code. When Flissy Budwig’s parents first dropped her off in Bottlebay, Maine, she hated everything about it. Most of all, she hated knowing that she was safe in America while her parents faced the guns of WWII in Europe. Especially when she discovered her parents were spies. Especially when she learned her parents were missing.

But a year has passed now, and Flissy has grown to love life in Bottlebay and grown to love Derek, the boy the Bathburns have adopted. Then a man claiming to be Derek’s true father arrives, and soon he’s asking all sorts of strange questions. Flissy has a nose for trouble. Has Derek’s new father come to take him away from Flissy forever, or is there something even more sinister afoot in Bottlebay, Maine?

What books are YOU reading this month? Tell us in the Comments!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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15. Jennifer Tyburczy on Sex Museums for Artforum

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Just a snippet from a fab piece by Jennifer Tyburczy for Artforum on the research informing her recent book Sex Museums: The Politics and Performance of Display, which places the museum in its spatial, political, and sexual contexts, each imbricated by the other, as well as our notions of public and private. You can read more from her “500 Words” piece here.

***

The big surprise, though, was that as soon as I started to write about sex museums, they started to close. The latter part of my book is dedicated to an ethnography of these spaces. It was disconcerting when I would plan out a visit to Los Angeles to see an erotic museum that then closed mere months before I could make the trip. Part of the book became about the failure of these ventures, and I don’t mean in a Jack Halberstam, Queer Art of Failure kind of way. Ultimately, many of these museums could not provide what visitors wanted, which was a really raw experience with sex drawn from the archive and arranged in displays. A lot of the museums I discuss—whether in New York, Denmark, or Spain—had an ingrained idea of who their normative visitor was and where their threshold of shock was located. Without fail, they always set the bar too low. People wanted more! The demands of being a twenty-first-century museum taking on the onus to display sex overwhelmed a lot of the museum planners. Typically they censored themselves in some way that visitors noted. The heartening message here is that we shouldn’t assume that people will be shocked and turned off by displays of diverse sexual cultures and people. Museum visitors are smart and savvy, and ready and willing to have that experience. My work makes an argument for the emotional and sexual intelligence of a viewer.

To read more about Sex Museums, click here.

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16. Star Wars Personality Quiz

star wars the force awakensWhich Star Wars Character Are You?

The greatest gift I got this holiday season? Star Wars: The Force Awakens (rated PG-13)! While I’m not as hardcore about it as my good friend who went to see the movie every day for 30 days in a row (not kidding), I still consider myself a pretty big Star Wars fan. And with all the new characters, there’s never been a better time for a STAR WARS PERSONALITY QUIZ! Are you a passionate and whip-smart leader like Padme Amidala? Are you a brave but hesitant rebel like Finn? Take the Star Wars Personality Quiz to find out!Star Wars: The Force Awakens Red Carpet

1. This weekend, you can’t wait to: a) learn how to juggle, do a cool new skateboard trick, or recreate your favorite dish from scratch. b) hang out with your best friend, listening to cool new music together. c) volunteer at your local animal shelter. d) visit your grandparents. e) construct the world’s stinkiest stink bomb ever!

2. Your favorite snack is: a) a granola bar. b) something you can share, like goldfish crackers. c) anything healthy. d) an apple. e) gummy bears.

3. You’d love to go to this kind of music concert: a) hip-hop. b) singer-songwriter. c) pop. d) classical. e) anything loud, loud, loud!

4. People describe you as: a) talented. b) easy-going. c) generous. d) wise. e) wild.

5. Your favorite color is: a) red. b) blue. c) white. d) green. e) Is glitter a color?

6. If you could have any superpower, you would most like to have: a) the ability to learn anything by watching someone else do it. b) invisibility. c) the ability to read other people’s minds. d) the ability to fly. e) the ability to transform into other animals or objects.

7. The career you would most like to have: a) inventor. b) singer. c) political leader. d) writer. e) actor.

8. Your favorite book genre is: a) action and adventure! b) sci-fi/fantasy. c) historical fiction or biography. d) realistic fiction. e) funny fiction.

9. Your personal style is: a) sporty casual. b) comfy and cool. c) classic and polished. d) very practical. If it’s cold out, you zip your jacket right up! e) outrageous.

10. You are happiest when you are: a) out in the wild and surrounded by nature. b) in a small, friendly town that feels like one big family. c) in the heart of a busy city, right where all the action is. d) by the sea, where everyone is very calm and laid-back. e) anywhere you have room to practice extreme sports.

If you picked mostly A’s, you are REY!
You are resourceful and brave, and never let hard times get you down — in fact, you bounce back twenty times stronger! You have a natural ability to pick up almost any skill, and sometimes it can be frustrating because you want to master everything all at once. You’re always operating at 500 miles per hour, but have a great eye for detail. You should remember to take time to slow down and take care of yourself while you’re busy saving the universe!

If you picked mostly B’s, you are FINN!
You are a truly brave soul, willing to put yourself at risk. Even in the darkest of times, you’re able to find something to smile about (and make other people smile, too). While you sometimes doubt your own abilities and would rather stay out of the spotlight, you should have more faith in yourself–you are an incredible team player. After all, it takes team work to make the dream work! You’re excellent at keeping your friends and companions motivated, and without you, they wouldn’t be able to achieve half of the things that they do.

If you picked mostly C’s, you are PADMÉ AMIDALA!
You are incredibly bright, a master negotiator, and feel very, very strongly about sticking up for people who can’t stick up for themselves. You are a natural leader, although sometimes you accidentally let your personal feelings cloud your judgment. You succeed by using your superior intellect, which is your greatest strength. You are never driven by selfishness, and your passion for creating a better world inspires others to do the same. People naturally gravitate towards you and look to you as an example of everything that an excellent leader should be!

If you picked mostly D’s, you are OBI WAN KENOBI!
You are the voice of reason among your friends, which can sometimes drive them a little nuts, but you are usually right! Your dedication to obeying the rules and considering everything logically is only surpassed by your steadfast loyalty and generous heart. And while you’d never break the rules yourself, you can understand why other people do. You are an excellent listener and always give the very best advice, and your friends are very, very lucky to have such a wonderful moral compass to guide them through tricky (and sticky) situations!

If you picked mostly E’s, you are R2-D2!
You are the life of the party! You are a prankster and love a good laugh, but always come through for your friends in their time of need. You’re incredibly bright, though sometimes people (especially parents and teachers!) get frustrated with you because you’d rather be making mischief than studying. However, you have a perfect balance of silly and sweet, which is why no one can stay mad at you for long!

Which Star Wars character matches your personality? Share in the Comments below!

May the force be with you!

En-Szu

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17. Cover Design 101: A sense of mystery

Now that we’ve revealed the cover for the amazing Perfect Liars by Kimberly Reid (coming in May!), let’s talk about the cover design process. As with Ink and Ashes last year by Valynne Maetani, Perfect Liars is a YA mystery title. How do you give a book that mysterious air you need? How do you tell readers, “This book is for YOU!”?

The challenge in all YA book design is to create a cover that looks like it belongs in the YA section, but doesn’t look too much like the rest of the YA section. And to do that, you need a good designer. We found that designer in Liz Casal, who’s also designed covers for Little, Brown and Soho Press. Looking at her portfolio, we knew she was just the designer for the job.

Perfect Liars_small_hires

We always start with some comp designs, to figure out what direction we’ll want to go in. Liz gave us some really amazing options. Here are a few of my favorites (these aren’t all of them).

Round 1 thumbnailsWhat I loved most about Liz’s designs is the care she put into finding photos of models who would look like the main character, Andrea Faraday, who is biracial (black and white). On top of that, her sense of contemporary design is just spot on. It was hard to choose which one we loved most!

We each loved multiple choices, so how could we narrow it down? I showed the potential covers to coworkers here at Lee & Low, to the author, and to her agent, soliciting opinions. We all had reasons for why we liked what we liked. But which direction was the best direction for this book?

There were some easy ones to rule out—the last one (with the girls in the hat) was a great picture, but didn’t convey the feeling we wanted to convey with this book cover. It was too convivial, not Perfect Liars design processmysterious enough. As Kim put it, “I imagine totally loving this for some other book I’d write.” A couple others felt too much like other books, and we weren’t sure we liked the cropping of some others (we didn’t want to lose the character’s full face, even though that cropping created a great sense of mystery).

We all loved the red cover (upper left of the original design), but we felt very strongly that a silhouette wouldn’t be the right choice for a book starring a person of color—we didn’t want to obscure our character’s ethnicity, we wanted to celebrate it! However, that book had a very commercial feel to it. Could we tweak it so that it would clearly show that she’s a character of color?

We looked at a number of options for that cover direction, and in the meanwhile also explored a few other options. We narrowed our options down further, looking at filters and cropping, fonts and angles. And then we decided to go to the experts: teens.

2015-09-30 15.19.19We chose our three favorite covers (we were on about round 3 by now), and during a visit to our office by students from the Grace Church School (who were there to talk to Joseph Bruchac, author of Killer of Enemies and Trail of the Dead), we asked students to tell us which book they most wanted to read.

Every teen in the room pointed to the cover on the right, the one with the characters wearing sunglasses. We were a little surprised—we thought that opinions might at least be split, or possibly favor the cover we’d been continuing to try to tweak so it wasn’t strictly a silhouette.

2015-09-30 16.01.54

Why, we asked, were they most interested in that book?

“Because she looks like she’s hiding something,” said one teen.

For them, those sunglasses meant a sense of mystery.

What do you think? Were our teen experts on to something? We think so!

Check out the final cover at Diversity in YA!

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18. “Anthropology’s Storyteller-Shaman-Sorcerer”

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From a recent review of Michael Taussig’s The Corn Wolf at Pop Matters:

Taussig’s work is the sort of bewilderingly beautiful prose (one is often tempted to call it poetry) that’s able to operate on multiple intellectual levels. The first essay in the collection, “The Corn Wolf: Writing Apotropaic Texts”, immerses the reader fully and mercilessly in the style. It opens with a poor graduate student realizing that writing up their fieldwork is the most difficult and important task of graduate school, and also the one thing graduate school teaches you nothing about. Fieldwork and writing; “they are both rich, ripe, secret-society-type shenanigans. Could it be that both are based on impossible-to-define talents, intuitions, tricks, and fears?”

No wonder many careerist academics dislike him.

Of course the essay isn’t so much about graduate writing as about his own writing, and about the act of writing—the magical act of writing—itself.

For example, Taussig considers anthropology’s treatment of magic and shamanic sorcery: “Pulling the wool over one’s eyes is a simpler way of putting it… What we have generally done in anthropology is really pretty amazing in this regard, piggybacking on their magic and on their conjuring—their tricks—so as to come up with explanations that seem nonmagical and free of trickery.”

This seemingly nonmagical academic form of writing—or mode of production, as he calls it—is what he refers to as ‘agribusiness writing’: “Agribusiness writing is what we find throughout the university and everyone knows it when they don’t see it.” Against it he pitches the idea of ‘apotropaic writing’, a magic that connives with the prosaic to produce a counter-magic of its own.

When anthropologists demystify shamanic sorcery, for instance, the ‘wolfing’ moves of apotropaic magic would reveal the sorcery implicit in the act of the ‘scientific’ anthropologist’s recasting of shamanism. Indeed, the fact that the wonder and magic of the everyday world has been demystified by science is a sort of magical transformation itself. Is this how we re-enchant the world? By the use of story-telling and writing to re-position what seems like the boring, unmagical workaday world of everyday capitalist drudgery and expose it as the magical sleight-of-hand and tricksterism that it is? “I have long felt that agribusiness writing is more magical than magic ever could be and that what is required is to counter the purported realism of agribusiness writing with apotropaic writing as countermagic, apotropaic from the ancient Greek meaning the use of magic to protect one from harmful magic.”

To read more about The Corn Wolf, click here.

To read the Pop Matters review in full, click here.

 

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19. Rocky Dog Create a Caption

Create a Caption for Rocky the Dog!

Hey there! This dog looks like he’s relaxing at home after a long day! What would you say he is thinking?Rocky the Dog

Here’s my caption: “Can we just stay in and snuggle now? I’m exhausted from chasing my tail all day, and I never even caught it!”

Write YOUR caption in the Comments below!

Megan, STACKS Intern

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20. Perseverance: Four American Performers of Color Who Found Success Abroad

2016 is the second year in a row that all the 20 nominees in the acting categories for the Oscars are all white. This prompted the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite created by April Reign to resurface. While television has started to become more diverse, this still isn’t reflected other media.

Diversity Gap in the Academy Awards

While the news media may cover this year’s Oscars Diversity Gap as a new issue, the truth is that discrimination toward artists of color is as old as America. Historically, performers of color were often unable to find places in the United States to perform and hone their talent. Ultimately, many of these performers had to leave America in order to be able to perform, and often found great success and acclaim in Europe, Russia, and other parts of the world. Here are just a few:

Ira's Shakespeare Dream

Ira’s Shakespeare Dream, written by Glenda Armand and illustrated by Floyd Cooper – Ira Aldridge dreams of performing Shakespeare’s plays. He journeys to England to realize his dreams.

Ira Aldridge was born in New York in 1807. As a child, he attended the African Free School. While a teenager, he acted with the African Grove Theater, performing plays for mostly black audiences. At the time, black actors were not allowed to perform for white audiences onstage – or even to share the same theaters. Eventually, Ira traveled to England in order to pursue his dream to act in Shakespeare’s plays. Even in England, he encountered resistance from critics saying he shouldn’t play roles that were meant for white actors. Yet Ira persevered, and became the first black actor to play the coveted role of Othello on the English state. Ira traveled around Europe performing Shakespeare’s plays, and was especially well-received in Russia and Prussia, where he was knighted. Despite never being able to return to the United States, Ira would often preach about the evils of slavery after his plays and raise money for abolitionist causes.

Shining Shar: The Anna May Wong Story, written by Paula Yoo and illustrated by Lin Wang – The true story of Chinese American film star Anna May Wong, whose trail-blazing career in Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s broke new ground for future generations of Asian American actors.

During the time that Anna May Wong rose to acting fame, most movies that portrayed Asian characters used white actors in yellowface. Anna May got her start as an extra in a film near where she lived. Later, Anna May was cast in many supporting roles where she caught the public eye. But even with fame and success, many of the roles offered to Anna May were racial stereotypes Chinese people. Tired of portraying stereotypes, Anna May journeyed to Europe, where she had supporting roles in films like Piccadilly. In 1935, Anna May lost the role of O-lan in The Good Earth to Luise Rainer. The United States had laws that would prevent Anna May from sharing an onscreen kiss with a white actor. Pearl S. Buck, the author of The Good Earth wanted the film to be cast with an all Chinese cast, but was told that American audiences weren’t ready for such a film.

Later, Anna May journeyed to China, and she vowed to never play another racial stereotype. In 1951, she starred in the first TV show to star an Asian American actor, The Gallery of Madam Liu-Tsong

Unfortunately, stereotypes still permeate television and film. Many actors of color have had the experience of casting directors asking them to play up racial or ethnic stereotypes.

Other books about American performers who found success outside the US:

Give Me Wingsby Kathy Lowinger – After Ella Sheppard enters Fisk Free Colored School (later Fisk University), she becomes a founding member of the Jubilee Singers, in order to raise funds for the school. They traveled around the United States and Europe introducing audiences to spirituals.

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker, written by Patricia Hruby Powell and illustrated by Christian Robinson: This book follows the life of Josephine Baker, who was raised in the slums of St. Louis. Later, she found great success in Europe as a dancer and actress.

Further Reading

Please check out the following posts in the Ira’s Shakespeare Dream blog tour:

StackingBooks.com review

Unconventional Librarian Review

This Little Light of Mine: Five African Americans who Excelled in the Arts

Buy Ira’s Shakespeare Dream

Buy Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story

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21. 10 Problems Only People With Braces Understand

Rainbow Pen10 Problems Only People With Braces Understand

Yes, I know it’s hard to believe (and believe me, I’d much rather forget!), but I used to be a brace-face. Those were the longest years of my LIFE. Braces are uncomfortable, painful, awkward, and so annoying. I was so excited when I finally got mine off! To show sympathy and solidarity for those of you currently experiencing the struggle, I’m bringing you a list of Ten Problems Only People With Braces Understand:

  1. Apples are the enemy. Apple skins are the WORST.
  2. Flossing takes FOREVER! It’s practically the next day when you finally finish!
  3. You’re always nervous about smiling because you never know what food might be stuck in there.
  4. Getting them tightened HURTS A LOT!
  5. Switching out band colors is cool, but you’re stuck with that color for a whole month. Who wants to wear the same color ANYTHING for that long?
  6. After eating a sandwich, at least 45% of the sandwich is stuck in your braces.
  7. No gum, caramel, or hard candy! Like I said . . . those were the LONGEST years of my life!
  8. Getting scratched and cut by stray wires on the inside of your mouth—ouch!
  9. That awful feeling when the orthodontist tells you it’s going to take longer to be braces-free than you were initially told. (Absolutely devastating.)
  10. Finally getting your braces off, but then wearing a retainer for what feels like the rest of forever.

Oh yes, the braces struggle is very, very real! Do you, or did you, wear braces? Are you going to need braces soon? Share your thoughts in the Comments below!

Yours in pain,

En-Szu

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22. Where Is the Diversity in Publishing? The 2015 Diversity Baseline Survey Results

diversity102-logoBy now it’s no secret that publishing suffers from a DBS_caption1major lack of diversity problem. Thanks to years of research by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, we have ample data to confirm what many readers have always suspected: the number of diverse books published each year over the past twenty years has been stuck in neutral, never exceeding, on average, 10 percent.

Countless panels, articles, and even conferences have been dedicated to exploring the causes and effects of this lack of diversity. Yet one key piece of the puzzle remained a question mark: diversity among publishing staff. While the lack of diversity among publishing staff was often spoken about, there was very little hard data about who exactly works in publishing.

At the beginning of 2015 we decided to conduct a survey to establish a baseline that would measure the amount of diversity among publishing staff. We believed in the power of hard numbers to illuminate a problem that can otherwise be dismissed or swept under the rug. We felt that having hard numbers released publicly would help publishers take ownership of the problem and increase accountability. We also felt that a baseline was needed to measure whether or not initiatives to increase diversity among publishing staff were actually working.

Our Diversity Baseline Survey took a year to complete. The results include responses from 8 review journals and 34 publishers of all sizes from across North America. Here are the results:

Diversity in Publishing 2015
Diversity Baseline Survey (DBS) 2015. Click for larger image

View a slideshow of the DBS survey results

Methodology and Response Rate
The Diversity Baseline Survey (DBS) was sent to 1,524 reviewer employees and 11,713 publishing employees for a total of 13,237 surveys deployed. The response rate was 25.8 percent. This is on par with the average for online surveys and actually a bit higher than the norm, given the sensitive nature of the questions.

In 2015, Publishers Weekly included some staff diversity questions in their annual Salary and Compensation Survey. They deployed their survey to 5,800 subscribers and had a response rate of 7.3 percent. Therefore, the DBS should yield a much more comprehensive picture of diversity in the publishing community.

The DBS was deployed directly from each publisher or review journal. A link was sent to all staff from a member of each publisher’s or reviewer journal’s human resources or executive team, often with an introduction explaining why the company was participating. Some companies even wanted to add additional questions to their surveys. The results provided here are only for questions that appeared in every survey.

The surveys were completely anonymous, and companies did not have direct access to the results. All data was analyzed and aggregated by Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen and Nicole Catlin of St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota, to ensure anonymity for individual employees.

Although our response rate was good, we still wonder: who didn’t take the survey, and how might that influence the results? With a survey of this kind, there is most likely some degree of selection bias. In other words, people who self-identify as diverse may have been more likely to take the survey. If that was the case, it would mean that our results portray publishing as more diverse than it actually is.

No voluntary survey can ever be 100 percent accurate, and no survey that asks questions about personal identity can ever be anything but voluntary. Even so, the results of the DBS offer a strong snapshot of the makeup of the publishing industry.

Notes and Analysis: What the Numbers Tell Us

Race:
According to the survey, just under 80 percent of publishing staff and review journal staff are white. The rest are comprised of Asians/Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders (7.2 percent), Hispanics/Latinos/Mexicans (5.5 percent), Black/African Americans (3.5 percent), and biracial/multiracial people (2.7 percent). Native Americans (0.5 percent), and Middle Easterners (0.8 percent) of publishing staff.

While all racial/ethnic minorities are underrepresented when compared to the general US population, the numbers show that some groups, such as Black/African Americans, are more severely underrepresented. This mirrors trends among children’s book authors. In 2014, just 2 percent of the books tracked by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center were by black authors. Latinos were similarly underrepresented in both places.

DBS_caption2Creating the list of ethnicities for a survey such as this was a real challenge. The racial breakdown we offered was based on the US census, with a few adjustments. For our first survey, we felt that this was the best way to break things down because it presented familiar categories that respondents had seen before.

But no list can accurately depict the complexity of this question. Within each category, there are so many different groups, and people self-identify in a wide variety of ways. The census groups White Americans, European Americans, and Middle Eastern Americans together. The census is not quite sure what to do with Latino and Hispanic people, who may or may not identify as white. And it certainly does not know how to handle the differences among Asians, Pacific Islanders, and South Asians.

We received more than 50 write-in comments for this question from people who did not feel that any of the options offered adequately represented them. Some identified as Jewish or European instead of white. Many specified that they were South Asian and didn’t feel that the overall Asian category was specific enough. And several simply called themselves “Human” and wondered why we cared so much about this. One block of data was compromised when the survey link was shared with outside spammers, which made a portion of the surveys ineligible for inclusion. These incidents and answers are all telling because they allude to the wide scope of attitudes toward this issue and how deeply the question of race resonates with people, in both positive and negative ways.

Gender:
The survey reveals that publishing is about 78.2 percent women or cis-women and 20.6 percent men or cis-men. These numbers may help explain why some feel that children’s book publishing skews toward female readers. Among executive and board member positions this disparity evened out a bit, with approximately 40 percent of executives and board members identifying as men or cis-men. This reflects the reality that males still ascend to positions of power more often, even in female-dominated industries.

The gender question also reveals that about 98.7 percent of publishing staff identify as cis men or women. This means that they identify with the genders they were assigned at birth. How does this compare with the general population? We don’t really know. For many reasons, we don’t have a good count of the percentage of the general population that is transgender. That being said, the small number of transgender, gender-nonconforming, intersex, and other gender-fluid people in publishing points to the need for publishers to make sure that books on these topics are being examined for cultural and scientific accuracy by experts before they are published.

Sexual Orientation:
According to the survey, about 88.2 percent of publishing staff identify as straight or heterosexual. This may be the category in which publishing is most on par with the general population, though we can’t know for sure.

Beyond the labels we offered, many respondents added their own labels that they felt better represented them. Quite a few identified as “queer.” Others wanted to know why we were asking for such personal information at all. Overall, this question got one of the lowest response rates of the survey, an indication, perhaps, that many people did not feel comfortable sharing this information. We decided to include this question because we wanted to acknowledge this aspect of diversity, and if we didn’t include it, this segment of the workforce would remain uncounted and invisible.

Disability:
The survey reveals that about 7.6 percent of publishing staff identify as having a disability. We defined disability broadly in the survey, so this does not give us an indication of the types of disabilities that are represented.

One interesting result: when broken down by department, design had a significantly higher average rate of disability (18 percent), followed by book reviewers (12 percent). Perhaps this is becauseDBS_caption3 there are more freelance design and reviewer jobs that can be done from home even when mobility is limited. Providing opportunities to people with disabilities may be an underappreciated benefit of creating more freelance positions in publishing.

Department:
The DBS results offer the opportunity to filter responses by department, giving a better picture of how diversity breaks out throughout an organization. More than one hundred thirty people wrote in comments for this question, listing departments or sub-departments beyond those listed in the survey. Because the survey was administered to companies ranging from just a few employees to several hundred or more, some departments or roles were left out. The next version of the survey will have an expanded list that is more inclusive to account for some of the staff who had to write in departments this time around.

An interesting result was the high response rate from editorial staff, who made up nearly 20 percent of survey respondents. This compares to less than 10 percent of respondents from marketing/publicity and 13.5 percent from sales. Since these ratios do not seem to match the overall breakdown by departments in publishing, we wonder if staff in some departments, such as editorial, were more likely than others to respond. If so, why? Are editorial staffs more on board with diversity initiatives than staff in other departments?

Here are the numbers:

Board Members and Executive Positions
Without a doubt, board members and those in executive positions make up the highest level of decision makers on the corporate ladder. Board members and executive positions are: 86 percent white, 59 percent cis-women, 89 percent heterosexual, and 96 percent able bodied/without a disability.

Editorial
Editorial is the next most important department when it comes to the in-house staff closest to generating actual books. Editorial staff is: 82 percent white, 84 percent cis-women, 86 percent heterosexual, and 92 percent able bodied/without a disability.

Marketing and Publicity
These are the departments that promote the books. Staff members in marketing and publicity are: 77 percent white, 84 percent cis-women, 87 percent heterosexual, and 94 percent able bodied/without a disability.

Sales
Members of the sales team are the ones out there pounding the pavement and knocking on doors to sell front list and back list titles. Sales people are: 83 percent white, 77 percent cis-women, 90 percent heterosexual, and 94 percent able bodied/without a disability.

Reviewers
Reviewers often have a direct influence on what readers buy. Reviewers are: 89 percent white, 87 percent cis-women, 91 percent heterosexual, and 88 percent able bodied/without a disability.

What’s next?
Does the lack of diverse books closely correlate to the lack of diverse staff? The percentages, while not exact, are proportional to how the majority of books look nowadays—predominately white. Cultural fit would seem to be relevant here. Or at least in DBS_caption4publishing’s case, what is at work is the tendency—conscious or unconscious—for executives, editors, marketers, sales people, and reviewers to work with, develop, and recommend books by and about people who are like them.

So, we have our baseline numbers. What are the next moves? In future posts we will discuss initiatives already in place that will hopefully move the needle toward more diversity. We will also look at a similar publishing diversity survey that was conducted in 2014 in the United Kingdom. And we will be working on designing DBS version 2.0, which we hope will include the publishers who either didn’t hear about the survey or opted out the first time.

We also hope that the DBS will lead to more “Diversity 102” conversations about what publishers can do, including improving retention and staff training. How can company cultures be more welcoming for diverse staff? Do diverse staff members feel comfortable voicing their opinions? Are systems in place to make sure all staff are trained and well versed in diversity issues?

Publishing is not alone when it comes to having a lack of diversity problem. All media, including film, television, and theater, are having similar conversations about diversity. It is plain to see that our society as a whole has a problem. We believe we are at a crucial time right now. We all have to decide if the country in which we live is better off if we conduct our lives separately or together. The diversity problem is not the responsibility of diverse people to solve. It is a problem for everyone to solve. Now that the Diversity Baseline Survey is completed, the real work toward changing the status quo begins. It is not going to be easy. Knowing where we stand and establishing a baseline was the first step. Knowing the baseline numbers gives us a way to measure progress going forward, but only our actions can change things for the better.

Read also: Behind the Scenes Of Publishing’s First Diversity Baseline Survey

For press inquiries or permission to reprint, please contact hehrlich[at]leeandlow[dot]com.

13 Comments on Where Is the Diversity in Publishing? The 2015 Diversity Baseline Survey Results, last added: 1/26/2016
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23. I Survived True Stories: Nature Attacks

ISurvivedBlogI Survived True Stories: Nature Attacks

Picture this: You’re at the beach and you hop into the ocean for a little swim when all of a sudden you are attacked by a giant jellyfish! Ouch! This actually happened to 10-year-old Rachael in Australia. Read the true story here.

Are you a fan of the I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis? Which book is your favorite? Tell us in the Comments.

 

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24. The Oodlethunks

OodlethunksIntroducing a hilarious new comedy of prehistoric proportions!

Welcome to West Woggle, home of woolly mammoths, fruitafossors, and the Oodlethunk family!

One day, Oona Oodlethunk finds a mysterious—and very special—egg. She doesn’t know what’s in it, but she does know one thing: she’ll do anything to protect her egg until it hatches. But it looks like everybody in West Wog wants a piece of her treasure, including her little brother Thunk and that smelly kid Bruce Brute. Oona will do whatever it takes to safeguard her egg—no one will get their grimy, Cro-Magnon hands on it! Oona can’t wait to find out what’s inside her egg—even though it might just gobble her up!

Want to learn more about the Oodlethunks? Watch the series trailer!

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25. The Party Decides on The Brian Lehrer Show

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The Party Decides: Presidential Nominations Before and After Reform is having quite a week—and quite an election season, in general. The book was adopted early by Nate Silver at his FiveThirtyEight blog, which led to explorations of its hypothesis here and here, and most recently here: where Silver posits the book as the most “misunderstood” of the 2016 primary season.

The point of Silver’s statement rests on whether or not a Trump nomination would destroy the Republican Party. The book’s argument is that party elites—unelected insiders—control who ultimately ends up nominated at the convention, and that decision is made many months before the primary campaign season even begins. Was anyone but Trump the nominee (say Marco Rubio, or even Jeb Bush), then The Party Decides had it right all along; if Republicans put forward DT, then it may be less a sign that the statistically supported data of the book is incorrect, and more a case of the possible dissolution of the Grand Old Party.

In the meantime, you can hear more about the book and what a Trump nomination might signify on today’s episode of The Brian Lehrer Show below:

To read more about The Party Decides, click here.

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