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1. Black Comics Month: UPDATE! Read Concrete Park Volume 1 for FREE

Continuing our spotlight on #BlackComicsMonth, by arrangement with Vixentoday’s spotlight is Volume 1 of Concrete Park by Tony Puryear and Erika Alexander. AND YOU CAN DOWNLOAD IT FOR FREE from Dark Horse! This is a great deal on a very smart SF tale that Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing called Concrete Park is a beautifully […]

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2. Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton – PPBF, Diversity Day, 2016

  Celebrating Black History Month! Title: Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses HortonPoet: Author and illustrator: Don Tate Publisher: Peachtree Books, 2015 Themes: slavery, illiteracy, poetry, African American, perseverance, Genre: biography Ages: 6-9 Opening: GEORGE LOVED WORDS. He wanted to learn how to read, but George was enslaved. He and his family lived … Continue reading

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3. Black Comics Month: Princess LovePon by Shauna J Grant

Continuing our spotlight on Black Comics Month, by arrangement with site runner Miz Caramel Vixen, who wanted me to remind everyone that the #blackcomicsmonth tag and site run EVERY month and not just Black History Month. Normally the site spotlight creators twice a week but in February they do one a day. Today’s spotlight is […]

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4. Black Comics Month: Clusterf@#K

I’m a firm believer that we shouldn’t celebrate black history or women’s history only one month a year, but 365 days (or even 366 days) a year. However Black History Month has given rise to Black Comics Month and a a website covering all kinds of comics. By special arrangement with that site’s mastermind, Miz […]

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5. Four French women cartoonists turn down knighthoods to protest poor treatment

20160131-monty.jpgby Xavier Lancel [Editor’s note: our French correspondent Xavier Lancel turned in a more knowledgeable view of the ongoing controversy surrounding Angouleme, but the minute he turned it in, a NEW phase of the controversy arose: four female cartoonists turning down their selection as Knights of Letters. Male winner Riad Sattouf has accepted his but […]

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6. Support diversity in comics? You need to support the BLACK kickstarter

There's been a lot of tweeting and tumblring about the need for more diversity in comics. And now you can make comics more diverse! Here is a chance to actually support a project by African-American creators that deals frankly with racial issues from a non-white perspective. BLACK is a new kickstarter for a graphic novel written by Kwanza Osajyefo (aka Kwanza Johnson)and Tim Smith III with art by Jamal Igle with additional art by Khary Randolph. Former Vertigo editor Sarah Litt will oversee the production. The story is high concept: what if only black people could become superheroes? Let your mind wander over that.

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7. 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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8. Thoughts on Last Stop on Market Street

In 2008, librarians surprised everyone by choosing the 533-page, The Invention of Hugo Cabret as the winner of the Caldecott Medal honoring the "most distinguished American picture book for children."  This year, the award committees surprised us again with the choice of a picture book, Last Stop on Market Street, as the winner of the Newbery Medal, given to "to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children." 

The short video below featuring author, Matt de la Peña, reading from his book will convince you that this is a wonderful book. 
My concern as a public librarian, however, is how best to share this book with kids.  The book is a little lengthy for my usual storytime crowd, and school-aged kids can seldom be convinced to check out a picture book.  It's in instances like these, that I envy school teachers and media specialists, who have such a wonderful opportunity to share great books with large numbers of kids.  This is perfect book for reading aloud in school.

But, how to share it in a public library setting?

Last week, I had a last-minute inspiration and it was a rewarding experience.  I have a small book club that meets every month. This month, I asked each of the kids to read Last Stop on Market Street - right then. In addition to positive comments about the book, I loved two of the observations that they reported:

  1. I never would have chosen this book if you didn't hand it to me.
  2. The people at the soup kitchen look like regular people.
We then discussed public transportation (none of the kids had ever been on a bus) and soup kitchens (none had ever been to one).  Working in a suburban library with poor public transportation, I can understand this. However, as a suburban parent, I can tell you that I made sure that my own children volunteered at the local food pantry and experienced public transportation (I made all of them ride the public bus with me to the mall even though it was more expensive than driving my minivan and took twice as long).  As a suburban librarian, I can't take kids on the public bus or to the soup kitchen, but at minimum, I've ensured that a few more children are now aware of the lives that others lead.This is one of the many things that makes my job worthwhile.

One of the missions of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks (TM) campaign is to make sure that "all children can see themselves in the pages of a book."  This is important, but also important is recognizing that all people are just "regular people."  We always have more in common than we think.


Last Stop on Market Street
by Matt de la Peña, Illustrated by Christian Robinson

Read it. Share it.

**Winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal
**A 2016 Caldecott Honor Book
**A 2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book
A New York Times Bestseller
Four Starred Reviews
Finalist for the 2014 E.B. White Read-aloud Book Award
A Junior Library Guild Selection

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9. In Memory: Andrea Cheng

Learn more from Lee & Low.
By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Obituary: Andrea Cheng by Shannon Maughan from Publishers Weekly.

"Children’s book author and educator Andrea Cheng, whose books often focused on intercultural and intergenerational relationships, died on Dec. 26, 2015 following a long illness. She was 58.

"Cheng was born in El Paso, Tex. in 1957, the daughter of Hungarian immigrants. The family soon moved to Cincinnati where Cheng and her two siblings grew up in an extended family, which she described on her website as 'three generations under one roof.'”

From The Cincinnati Enquirer:

"In lieu of flowers or food, donations may be made to either the Andrea Cheng English as a Second Language Scholarship at Cincinnati State (online or checks to Attn: Cincinnati State Foundation, Cincinnati State Technical & Community College, ATLC, Room 352, 3520 Central Parkway, Cincinnati OH, 45223), or to the Cincinnati Public Library (online or checks to 800 Vine St. Cincinnati, OH 45202). Please note that the gift is in memory of Andrea Cheng."

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10. Telling Better Stories: Writing Diverse YA Fantasy

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Of late I had the honor of joining Daniel José Older and Sabaa Tahir in answering questions on Diversity in YA Fantasy from Maggie Reagan from Booklist. My thoughts included:

I’ve had students ask me, “How do I write this without freaking out the white folks?” And yet authors hold back at the peril of young readers. Those who share our perspectives go invalidated, and those who don’t are never exposed and enlightened.

I also noticed a Freudian slip in my comments, and I'm inclined to leave it be. I refer to some allied librarians, insistent on telling (rather than sharing) stories of Native people as stock characters uniformly suffering from alcoholism on reservation. But telling is what I really did mean. There aren't Native children's-YA writers crafting fiction along those lines.

Yet I'm told, time and again, that this stereotype is the single story that resonates. It's come up to stand alongside the "romantic, New-Age-y" stereotype and "historical savage" stereotype. Together and separately, these persistent tropes negate respect, nuance, complexity, humanity, and back to the focus of article, the potential for Native-inclusive children's-YA fantasy done right.

It's disheartening to refute, coming from allies. So, if you count yourself among them, please know that you are appreciated. But also be careful of assumptions, however benevolently intended.

See Telling Better Stories: Writing Diverse YA Fantasy.

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11. On The Scene: Our Comics,Ourselves Illuminates The History of Comics Diversity

20160121_204212Interference Archive's Our Comics, Ourselves ongoing art exhibit is a powerful reminder of how comics have always been an expression of personal issues from many viewpoints.

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12. First look: Faith #2 and how Valiant got a viral hit

Valiant Comics relaunched as a publisher in 2012, and they’ve certainly done most things right since then, putting out quality comics with high level talent, and reaching out to fans on all levels—as the support for CEO Dinesh Shamdasani in our Person of the Year voting shows. They’ve gotten attention for relaunches of long running […]

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13. Barbie’s got a brand new bod – actually three of them

In a massive COVER story on Time Magazine, Mattel has unveiled a bunch of new shapes and sizes for Barbie, the long reigning ectomorphic queen of the toy aisle. The fashion icon will now come in tall, petite and curvy versions, just like ladies jeans at Target. The toys go on sale online today, and […]

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14. #ReadYourWorld and Celebrate MULTICULTURAL CHILDREN'S BOOK DAY!

Hey everyone! It's Multicultural Children's Book Day, and in honor of that, I will be posting what I think is my FIRST EVER picture book review. First, though, I'd like to sincerely thank all the organizers of MCCBD, especially Mia Wenjen (Pragmatic... Read the rest of this post

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15. GLAAD Nominees honor Wicked & Divine, Harley Quinn and more

Awards season is underway! And GLAAD has announced its annual media award nominees to “recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and the issues that affect their lives. Although many have questioned why GLAAD only focuses on big publishers comics (often only Marvel […]

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16. Guest Post & Giveaway: Lisa Papademetriou on Finding the Right Perspective: A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic

By Lisa Papademetriou
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

One day, I was at the grocery store with my daughter when I spotted a crazy man in the car beside ours.

Zara was very small, perhaps three years old, she watched while he sat in his car, talking to himself, as I unpacked the groceries.

When I finally sat behind the wheel, I tried to ignore the man, fearing that she would be frightened or concerned.

Instead, she looked at me and explained, “He’s praying.”

When I looked again, I realized that she was right. The man had on a skullcap—he was in his car, praying to Allah. When your religion calls on you to pray five times a day, sometimes the best, most private place is in the car.

My daughter knows that because her grandmother is an observant Muslim, and has prayed in our car on numerous occasions. To Zara, this is perfectly normal. This is the essence of point of view.

Three years ago, I began work on A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic (HarperCollins, 2015). The story is about two girls—one in Texas, one in Pakistan—who each find a copy of a magic book.

Thematically, I was writing about the way in which stories unite us, so the dual setting and protagonists were very important to me. My husband is from Pakistan, and we travel there fairly often. I had been hoping to write the story from the point of view of someone like my daughter, who is very familiar with the culture.

But an early reader felt that, despite the compelling Pakistani setting, Leila’s point of view simply didn’t feel convincing. This reader told me that I needed to discover the story that was in my own heart. Put another way, I had to find the common ground between Leila’s perspective and my own.

I am a Greek American, but I am far more American than Greek. When I traveled to Greece as an adult, people could tell right away that I was Greek. But when they discovered that I didn’t speak Greek, they were disappointed.

“That is a shame,” a cabdriver in Thessaloniki told me, frowning.

Yet, in the iconography of the Greek churches I visited, I would see faces that looked like mine. In many ways, Greece felt like home to me, but it also felt intensely foreign.

This is also how I exist among my in-laws when I visit Pakistan—they accept me as family. In fact, they sometimes accept me so thoroughly that they forget that I don’t speak Urdu, or know what holiday we are celebrating, or even have any idea what clothes are appropriate for different occasions. To them, these things are all second nature, while for me, they are constant sources of confusion and gaffes. I belong, and yet I don’t.

These were the experiences I drew on when I created Leila’s character in A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic. She is a Pakistani-American girl, but she is far more American than Pakistani. She is trying to navigate the space in which the culture is her heritage, but it is not familiar. Like me, she is an insider-outsider.

Acknowledging my own perspective helped guide me toward the story I could most authentically tell. Happily, a number of reviewers who are also Americans with family outside of the United States have noted that Leila’s story arc feels relatable and familiar.

I started by writing about the ways in which stories can connect us to one another. In writing the story of my heart, I learned how true that is.

Cynsational Screening Room


The Story Behind the Story: A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic from PixelEdge on Vimeo.

Cynsational Giveaway

Enter to win one of two signed copies of A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic by Lisa Papademetriou (HarperCollins, 2015), plus a special handwritten letter from a character in the book. Author sponsored. Eligibility: U.S. only.

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17. 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.

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18. 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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19. The Black Comic Book Festival drew 5000 people

CY91qsXWcAAqE-MBlack Superhoeroes At Black Comic Book Fest in #Harlem @HWMAG https://t.co/6Uz9I2D8J6 pic.twitter.com/VlvkK8mg0X — blicqer (@blicqer) January 18, 2016 For all of you who think Black folks don't buy #comics I give you Exhibit A #blackcomicbookfestnyc pic.twitter.com/EVDRaCmjfu — theblerdgurl (@theblerdgurl) January 16, 2016 The Black Comic Book Festival, held at the Schomburg Center in Harlem, just […]

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20. The 2016 McDuffie Awards get flooded with submissions

One of the most rewarding things I did all last year was participate as a judge for the first ever McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics; not only was I exposed to a lot of great comics material I had never seen before, but I worked with a fine panel of judges and it was a genuine joy to get more attention for the eventual winner–Nilah McGruder's MFK. Happily, I'll be part of the final selection committee for this year's awards, with the winner to be announced at the Long Beach Comic Expo on Saturday February 20, in room S5 from 2:30pm - 3:30pm.

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21. MLK Day 2016 to read: Books and dozens of black-themed webcomics

A few reminders for Martin Luther King Day today. As always, the 1956 Martin Luther King “Montgomery Story” Comic Book is available free to download and read in this link. March Book One and Book Two by Rep. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell continues the story of the fight for civil rights via […]

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22. Turning Pages Reads: SERPENTINE (Kingdom of Xia: Second Series #1), by Cindy Pon

Welcome to another session of Turning Pages!Synopsis: SERPENTINE begins with a familiar feel -- a mistress and a handmaiden, brought up as close friends, often playing games and once spying on the monastery - and a cute monk - which was utterly... Read the rest of this post

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23. Announcing our 2015 New Voices Award Winner

New York, NY—January 15, 2015—LEE  & LOW BOOKS is proud to New Voices Award sealannounce that Lisa Brathwaite of Stone Mountain, Georgia, is the winner of the company’s sixteenth annual New Voices Award. Her manuscript, Show and Tell: The Story of Eunice Johnson and the Ebony Fashion Fair, is a picture book biography of Eunice Johnson, African American publishing executive and founder of the Ebony Fashion Fair. Since childhood, Eunice had a passion for fashion. She enjoyed sewing her own clothes and took pride in her original style and immaculate technique. As an adult, she and her husband founded Ebony, a magazine that celebrates African American life and culture. And in 1958, Eunice created the Ebony Fashion Fair, a fund-raising event that quickly evolved into a nationwide tour that showcased high fashion for the African American audience and challenged accepted standards to embrace beauty in all forms.

Lisa Brathwaite is a cultural engagement advisor with Welcoming America and a volunteer with Dress for Success Atlanta. As a young girl, Lisa was interested in fashion and found Ebony a source of encouragement and confidence. She became enamored with Eunice Johnson’s journey and was inspired to write about this great businesswoman and fashion icon. Lisa will receive a prize of $1,000 and a publication contract.

LEE & LOW BOOKS is also proud to announce that Li Yun Alvarado of Long Beach, California, has been chosen as the New Voices Honor winner for her manuscript A Star Named Rosita: The Rita Moreno Story, a picture book biography of film and theater star Rita Moreno. A native of Puerto Rico, Rita immigrated in 1936 to the United States, where she discovered her talent for performing. She rose to Hollywood stardom and became a pioneer for Latina women, overcoming barriers and stereotypes to win an Academy Award for her role in the musical West Side Story (1961). As a young Puerto Rican performing arts student in New York City, Li Yun Alvarado was deeply affected by Rita Moreno’s story and was motivated to write about Rita’s inspirational work for a new generation of readers and performers. Li Yun will receive a prize of $500.

Congratulations to Lisa Brathwaite and Li Yun Alvarado!

ABOUT THE AWARD: Established in 2000, the New Voices Award is an annual award given by LEE & LOW BOOKS to an unpublished author of color for a picture book manuscript. Past winners include It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw by Don Tate,  winner of the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award Honor, Bird by Zetta Elliott, an ALA Notable Book, and, most recently, Juna’s Jar by Jane Bahk, a Spring 2015 Junior Library Guild selection.

The award was established to combat the low numbers of authors of color in children’s book publishing and to help new authors break into the field. LEE & LOW BOOKS is committed to nurturing new authors. The company has introduced more than one hundred new authors and illustrators to the children’s book world and 68% of authors and illustrators published by LEE & LOW BOOKS are people of color. For more information, visit our New Voices Award page.

Authors of color who write for older readers are encouraged to learn about our New Visions Award for middle grade and young adult manuscripts as well.

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24. Report: toy companies explicitly told to exclude Rey from Force Awakens products

A site called “Sweatpants and Coffee” has just posted an anonymous insider whistleblower report on the Where’s Rey? controversy that has seen the main character of the world’s most popular movie left out of the toys for that movie: in January 2015, a number of toy and merchandise vendors descended on Lucasfilm’s Letterman Center in […]

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25. Child Soldier and the Refugee Experience

I just finished the great graphic novel Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War by Michel Chikwanine and Jessica Dee Humphreys and would encourage everyone reading this to pick it up. The story recounts how 5 year old Michel was kidnapped near his school by rebel militiamen in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He eventually escapes, but not after being forced to commit violent acts which haunt him. The book does cover very difficult territory, but does a good job of explaining the history of the conflict and not exhibiting images too disturbing or violent for it’s intended audience. This is an important story to tell and equally important to get into the hands of tween and teen readers. The book begins with Michel arriving in North America, and ends with more details about his journey to safety. He was first a refugee in Uganda, then years later in Canada, and touches upon what it was like to feel as if people here didn’t care about the issues in other countries.

Image from http://www.kidscanpress.com/products/child-soldier.

Image from http://www.kidscanpress.com/products/child-soldier.

This graphic novel sparked me to contemplate what role we can serve and what titles we can provide for children who come to the library looking for something that relates to the refugee experience. These books may not only be sought out by children who identify with such experiences, but may also be of interest to curious readers who want to better understand what it may mean to be a refugee. With the current Syrian refugee crisis making news headlines worldwide, young people may be itching for answers. Libraries are safe, inviting places to ask about what it means to be a refugee.

The UN Refugee Agency has a downloadable children’s booklist full of great titles covering the topic.  Below are some of my favorite recent titles for children that discuss the refugee experience.

  • I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosín.  Atheneum Books for Young Readers;  2014.
  • The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 2014.
  • Azzi in Between by Sarah Garland. Frances Lincoln Children’s Books; 2013.
  • Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War by Michel Chikwanine and Jessica Dee Humphreys. Kids Can Press; 2015.
  • Two White Rabbits by Jairo Buitrago. Illustrated by Rafael Yockteng. Groundwood Books; 2015.

Here at the ALSC blog I’ve been excited to see two posts from fellow librarian bloggers just this week that touch on this discussion of the refugee experience and libraries. We learned about a great new bilingual flier from REFORMA inviting Spanish-speaking immigrants and refugees to visit the library. You can see the flier here. It was created as part of their Children in Crisis project, which is a truly wonderful initiative that aims to help the thousands of Spanish speaking children who are crossing the southern border into the United States. Read more about it on their website if you are unfamiliar with the project, it is inspiring! We also learned about the IBBY Silent Books exhibit, another amazing project.

What are some of your favorite books that help discuss this difficult topic with young readers? Are you currently serving any refugee families at your library? Please share in the comments!

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