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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: diversity, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 447
1. Cybils Finalist Review: THE HARLEM HELLFIGHTERS by Max Brooks and Caanan White

Summary: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II are, by now, well-known to American and African American history. But the regiment known as the Harlem Hellfighters--the Army's 369th infantry unit--were the first American unit to reach the Rhine in the... Read the rest of this post

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2. Still Building!

We librarians are still building our Everyday Advocacy muscles, but we need to add one other thing to the mix, diversity. How can we as librarians connect advocacy and diversity? The talk of the day, the happening of our time, the attention grabber of our consciousness is the conversation taking place currently about diversity. The events in Ferguson, Missouri and similar events in other locations, the insensitive remarks spoken at a National Book Award event honoring Jacqueline Woodson and the on-going We Need Diverse Books campaign are stories which have captured our attention.

At breakout sessions during an ALA Midwinter meeting on diversity sponsored by the Children’s Book Council and ALSC, some takeaway ideas included the following:

  • Use parents and caregivers as resources.
  • Create virtual programs to reach untapped communities.
  • Develop partnerships which are crucial.
  • Create more diverse books.
  • Contact Barnes and Nobles to suggest a list of books that are not on its shelves, and then ask why.
  • Go to patrons wherever they are.
  • Be a change and a leader in your community

Issues raised during the meeting included: There should be more diverse staffing at publishing companies, there should be more characters with disabilities in literature for children. Jason Low of Lee and Low Publishing, suggested that a diversity problem is a cultural problem. Librarians asked these questions: How do you create a more diverse library? How do you reach out to diverse communities? ALSC and the CBC asked librarians in attendance,   what are some gaps you think we can fill? There were even more questions. One of the speakers asked the audience, what changes are you willing to make as librarians? When will you make a change, in one week, one month, one year?

There are many unanswered questions. There are even some final questions to ask ourselves: What are some of the challenges that your library is facing concerning diversity? What are the gifts you bring to the conversation? Gifts is a key word here.

We librarians bring our gifts every day to the jobs we do as librarians. It is part of the everyday advocacy that empowers us. Conversation is the thing that is being added to the mix, and the thing that will ultimately bring closure to the unanswered questions.

*************************************************************

Today’s blog post was written by Barbara Spears, a member of the ALSC  Advocacy and Legislation Committee.

The post Still Building! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. Matt Wayne on What Dwayne McDuffie Meant To Comics

dwaynephoto

Although it’s in Playboy, it’s SFW and a must read: former Milestone managing editor Matt Wayne on his friend, the late great Dwayne McDuffie:

“I’m 22 and I haven’t done anything with my life!”

That was my friend Dwayne, speaking to me in his dorm room in February 1984. Nine years after he got his name in the papers by attending the University of Michigan at age 13 (but only for a year — turns out, even genius kids need to be around their peers). Seven years after the Detroit News named him one of its All State high-school basketball players. A year after a crisis of conscience turned him away from his undergraduate research into the properties of thermocouples — he learned his work had been applied to missile guidance systems — which started his writing career in earnest. And three years before he became the first African-American to create a Marvel comic.

 
There was only one Dwayne, but his memory lives on with the Dwayne McDuffie Award being presented this weekend at the Lonb Beach Comics Expo. I’m extremely proud to have been associated with this first award, and thrilled with the final list of nominees. We have a long way to go to live in the world that Dwayne may have dreamed of, but that doesn’t mean we should give up.

Today is the next to last day of Black History Month. I don’t always mark it with content here at the Beat because I think there should be 12 months a year of black history and women’s history and queer history and Asian history and every kind of history. Confining any minority to their own month is ultimately counter productive. I don’t always succeed but at the Beat I try to create an atmosphere that invites diversity….and NOT just women writing about women or writers of color writing about those issues. I think that’s confining too.

That said, there were some good BHM pieces, and here’s one: Reggie Hudlin, Jamar Nicholass Jerry Craft and Brandon Thomas talking about comics with Danica Davidson. More to come.

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4. Professional Development Opportunities for Serving Special Populations

Earlier this week ALSC held an online forum to continue the Day of Diversity conversation from Midwinter. I chair the committee, Library Services to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers, so I thought about the conversation in terms of special populations served by our libraries. “Special populations” is rather weird terminology (“underrepresented” may be a better term). What is considered a special population really depends on each library’s community. A special population in Richmond, CA may not be a special population in Nashville, TN. Even within a city, special populations may vary from branch to branch.

Forum attendees generated lots of suggestions about how to make our libraries more diverse, welcoming places for everyone in the community. This is a huge task – one that requires ongoing assessment to learn who is underrepresented in your community and at your library, one that requires ongoing training of library employees. To this end, I searched library-related continuing education websites for upcoming professional development opportunities focused on services or resources for diverse or underrepresented populations.

Here are some upcoming professional development opportunities:

Library Juice Academy
Bilingual Storytime at Your Biblioteca
March 2-27, 2015 $175
“Participants will discover new books, rhymes, songs, plans and resources that they can immediately put to use in their bilingual storytime programs.”

Texas State Library and Archives Commission
Technology Planning for Patrons with Disabilities – Where Do I Start?
March 12, 2015 FREE
“Learn about resources…including low-cost or free basic assistive equipment [to] download immediately.”

University of Wisconsin – Madison
Library Services for the Hmong Community
March 10, 2015 FREE
This webinar will discuss “barriers that prevent Hmong from using libraries and share the Appleton Public Library’s successful outreach strategies for reaching out to Hmong patrons.”

ASCLA
Improving Library Services for People with Disabilities
March 2-29, 2015 Registration fee varies
Attendees “will review the current level of service to people with disabilities then explore materials and sources that provide additional support or new ideas.”

RUSA
Spice it Up with Pura Belpre!
April 30, 2015 Registration fee varies
In this session attendees will learn about these award-winning titles and “discover how they enhance multicultural collections as well as contribute to instructional strategies.”

These are but a few online opportunities for you to learn more about diverse populations that may seek library services in your community. Another way to learn is to get out of the library and into your community. Attend cultural meetings, local chapter meetings of the (insert special population here) association, and special events. Think about who you don’t see in your library and find a way to learn more about that population. Then make a plan for proactively invite them in.

Africa Hands is chair of the Library Services to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers committee and author of Successfully Serving the College Bound (ALA Editions). She’s @africahands on Twitter.

The post Professional Development Opportunities for Serving Special Populations appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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5. Book Review: Smek for President

Smek for President

by Adam Rex

Science fiction for kids is rare enough; truly funny middle-grade science fiction is even rarer. In fact, off the top of my head I can only think of one book in the hilarious middle-grade science fiction genre: The True Meaning of Smekday. Now that number has doubled, with the publication of a worthy sequel, Smek for President.

If you haven't read The True Meaning of Smekday, why not? Go forth and read it now! It's a great road-trip buddy comedy about a girl and an alien on the run from the evil alien overlords.

Beyond this point there will be spoilers for the first book.

In Smek for President, human leader Dan Landry has taken credit for defeating the Gorg. No one, human or Boov, knows that it was really Tip and J.Lo who discovered the Gorg's weakness and defeated them with hundreds of cloned cats. Tip is living an anonymous life trying to adjust to being a regular girl again. J.Lo is infamous on two worlds: he can't seem to stay out of trouble in their community on Earth, and to the Boov he's still the Squealer, who accidentally signaled the Gorg in the first place. Tip and J.Lo decide to take a trip to New Boovworld (formerly known as the moon Titan) to explain to Captain Smek what really happened and clear J.Lo's name.

Hilarious hijinks ensue, including a low-gravity chase that is every bit as awesome as you'd hope for a low-gravity chase to be, an escape into a garbage-pit, (with obligatory Star Wars reference) and a lonely bubble-billboard. There's more awesomeness that I can't say anything about without spoiling the book. There are several comic sections that extend the story throughout the book.

There's not much else I can say, except that this is a perfect middle-grade book, and fans of The True Meaning of Smekday will love it. Anyone who hasn't read The True Meaning of Smekday would be well served to read it first.

Diversity?

The protagonist Tip is mixed-race and dark skinned. She's also an awesome character that boys and girls of all races can identify with. (How many times am I allowed to say awesome in one review?)

Buy from Powells.com:
FTC required disclosure: Review copy sent by the publisher to enable me to write this review. The bookstore links above are affiliate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.

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6. Books to Start A Dialogue About Disabilities

Today’s guest blogger is Leslie Anido, a special needs teacher in California. She first connected with First Book as a member of long-time partner Pi Beta Phi Fraternity. She now receives books and resources for the children she serves through First Book.

Leslie
Leslie Anido and her students with one of the many books that have helped encourage understanding within their school.

“Books have helped our students look beyond their differences and discover their similarities, regardless of appearance or skills,” explains Leslie.

Leslie’s students’ physical, medical and communication abilities mean many use assistive technologies to aid their learning. Though they learn differently than their peers, they have the same interests, dreams and love of books.

Books from First Book have helped start a dialogue about disabilities at Leslie’s school. Most recently, the students read “Out of My Mind,” by Sharon Draper, featuring a main character who uses an augmentative communication device, which three of Leslie’s students also use.

Her students have been able to relate to these characters on a very personal level. Their peers have also gained a greater understanding of what life is like for kids who rely on learning tools and assistance. They are now initiating and engaging in conversations with Leslie’s students more frequently. These books have served as more than just an educational resource. They’ve become tools for developing an understanding of community and inclusivity within the school.

“The lives of our students have been truly enriched by the availability of these books,” says Leslie.

The post Books to Start A Dialogue About Disabilities appeared first on First Book Blog.

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7. Ageism

Here's a blog about promoting positive images of aging in children's literature.

http://www.lindseymcdivitt.com/blog/

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8. Awards and Grants for Authors of Color

Getting your book published is difficult, and unfortunately it tends to be much harder when you’re a Person of Color. While there are more diverse books being published, there’s still a lot of work to do!

Fortunately there are awards and grants out there help writers of color achieve their publication dreams.

We’ve created a list of awards and grants to help you get started!

New Voices Award – Established in 2000, is for the unpublished author of color for a picture book manuscript.

Awards and Grants for Writers of ColorNew Visions Award – Modeled after LEE & LOW’s New Voices Award, this award is for Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Mystery middle grade or YA novels.

SCBWI Emerging Voices Grant – This award is given to two unpublished writers or illustrators from ethnic and/or cultural backgrounds that are traditionally under-represented in children’s literature in America and who have a ready-to-submit completed work for children.

The Angela Johnson Scholarship from Vermont College of Fine Arts – This scholarship is for new students of color of an ethnic minority for VCFA’s MFA program.

Vaunda Micheaux Nelson Scholarship from Hamline College – “Annual award given to a new or current student in the program who shows exceptional promise as a writer of color.”

We Need Diverse Books Short Story Contest - This short story contest was inspired by Walter Dean Myers’ quote, “Once I began to read, I began to exist.”

The Scholastic Asian Book Award – This award is for Asian writers writing books set in Asia aimed at children 6-18 years of age.

Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund – This fund enables writers of color to attend the Clarion writing workshops where writer Octavia Butler got her start.

SLF Diverse Writers and Diverse Worlds Grants – These grants are new works and works in progress. The Diverse Writers Grant focuses on writers from underrepresented and underprivileged backgrounds, and the Diverse Worlds Grant is for stories that best present a diverse world, regardless of the author’s background.

Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award – This one time grant is awarded to an emerging writer of color of crime fiction.

NYFA Artists’ Fellowships – These fellowships are for residents of New York State and/or Indian Nations located in New York State.

Golden Baobab Prizes for Literature – These annual awards recognize emerging African writers and illustrators.

The Sillerman First Prize for African Poets – This prize is for unpublished African poets.

What other awards and grants do you recommend for authors of color?

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9. Cybils Finalist Review: STRANGE FRUIT, VOLUME I by Joel Christian Gill

Summary: In a recent NPR interview, Joel Christian Gill said, "These stories are quintessentially American stories. I can't say that enough. It's not that I dislike Black History Month. I just don't think Black History Month is enough." I agree... Read the rest of this post

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10. Cybils 2014 Review: EL DEAFO by Cece Bell

Summary: Before writing up this post, I honestly didn't realize that El Deafo by Cece Bell had won the 2015 Newbery Award. Well, now it's also won a Cybils Award for 2014, in the Elementary and Middle Grade Graphic Novels category! And I'm thrilled... Read the rest of this post

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11. The Newbie’s Guide to Hosting a Día Program

Learn more about  Día at dia.ala.org

Learn more about Día at dia.ala.org

Thinking of hosting a Día program at your library? While the ALA Building STEAM with Día grants deadline has passed, it’s never too late to set up your own program. Have questions about where to start, who to contact, and what kinds of things you should do? Well, look no further—we will answer your questions right here!

First thing you must do, is log onto http://dia.ala.org, read a bit about Día and what others have done in the past, then register your program. This registry creates a searchable database of Día programs of all sizes from across the county that highlight Diversity In Action. Not only is the database a resource for you to find ideas, and printables that may work for your community, but it’s also a great place for your library patrons to find programs they might be interested in attending.

Then you need to take a deep breath. For those who have not held a Día program before, it does not need to overwhelm you. This is Children’s Day/Book Day, a celebration of the importance of literacy for children of all backgrounds. So, do what you do best…invite the community to join you in celebrating literacy.

Who should you contact? Everyone! Start with the list on the dia.ala.org website under the Learn More – Partners and Supporters page. This list links you to great national organizations who have indicated interest in celebrating Día. From there, look to your communities. Other agencies who serve children are a natural fit, but restaurants, and ethnic grocery stores can also be great partners and add a completely different element.

What should you do? Host a Book Fest, each room of your library is a celebration of a book, culture, or language. If you have enough partners involved, have them each be responsible for a room. Then families can move through the library, experiencing and discovering a variety of new things. Hold a Books Alive Parade, encourage children to dress up as their favorite book character and march around the library. Hold a few sessions that offer tips and tricks to create a love a reading in every home. Start a book club, using books that are offered in both English and another language. Encourage the sharing of cultural and personal experiences. Offer a variety of extension activities that coordinate with a book, showing children that literacy is more than just reading a book, but also all the things you can do with what you’ve read and learned.

Best tip: invite organizations and agencies to join you, and let them create their own activities to share with your patrons.

Pictures courtesy of the Kendallville Public Library bethmunk2 bethmunk3 bethmunk4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Post written by Beth Munk, Kendallville Public Library, Kendallville, IN

Pictures courtesy of the Kendallville Public Library

The post The Newbie’s Guide to Hosting a Día Program appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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12. Celebrate Black History Month with Two Book Collections from LEE & LOW BOOKS!

A heads up to our blog readers that we have two great sales happening now to celebrate Black History Month!

We’re offering 25% off two Black History Month collections on leeandlow.com through the end of the month. Kick-start your Black History book collection or mix things up with great books that can be used all year long.

CELEBRATE

Both collections offer biographies of great leaders who excelled in many different fields including writing, politics, music, and the culinary arts and will appeal to a wide range of readers.

Our Black History Month Paperback Collection features four award-winning picture books in paperback:

John Lewis in the Lead
I and I Bob Marley
George Crum and the Saratoga Chip
Love to Langston 

Originally $40, it’s currently on sale for $29.95.

Our Black History Month Special Collection features five award winning picture book biographies in a mix of paperback and hard cover editions:

John Lewis in the Lead
George Crum and the Saratoga Chip
It Jes’ Happened
Love to Langston
Baby Flo

Originally $65.70, it’s currently on sale for $50.

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13. Writing for a Diverse Audience: SCBWI NY 2015 breakout recap

Over the weekend (Feb. 7), I taught a breakout session at the Annual Winter Conference of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators here in New York, NY. We were discussing how to write for a diverse audience. My main focus was on helping the audience to remember that no matter what you’re writing, your audience will always be diverse. Too often, writers think that there’s a dichotomy–that there are “multicultural books” that are read by kids of color, and that “everyone else” (meaning, white kids) read “mainstream” (meaning, white) books.

This just isn’t the case. Readers tend to read widely, and kids of color are just like their white peers, reading the most popular books, the books assigned to them in schools, and whatever else they happen to come across that sounds interesting to them.

Writing for a Diverse AudienceBelow are the links and a few notes from the handout I gave to writers at the conference, with a few annotations to clarify what we were talking about. I hope it is a useful resource when you’re thinking of writing for a diverse audience (i.e., when you’re thinking of writing–period!). If you have any further ideas–or links where writers can go further in depth–please add them in the comments.

Other coverage: SCBWI Conference Blog

Other sessions on the same topic: Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander’s breakout session on writing diverse books


Seven Essentials You Need to Know about Writing for a Diverse Audience

  1. Don’t feel “forced” to write diversity, but remember your readers are diverse
    • If your real-life world isn’t diverse, if you don’t know any people of color, if you don’t know how to write diverse characters without relying on stereotypes, you don’t have to feel pressured to do so.
    • And don’t feel like you need to come in and “save” anyone—come in from a position of equality and seeking equity.
    • However, your world is likely more diverse than you think.
    • Often, people of color and Native Americans are most hurt by passing comments in books that aren’t “about” POC at all. (Debbie Reese’s blog has many examples of this.)
    • Don’t be afraid to discuss race. If you’re new at this, do a lot of listening.
  1. You need to know about power dynamics
  1. Expand your definition of “diversity.”
  • Diversity is not just about race, religion, class, etc. It is often about how many different identity markers come together to create a specific experience. Here’s a basic definition of  intersectionality. Think about how it affects your characters.
  • Intersections happen across 11 lenses, according to Teaching Tolerance:
  1. race
  2. ethnicity
  3. language
  4. immigration  
  5. religion
  6. gender identification
  7. sexual orientation
  8. class 
  9. ability
  10. age
  11. place
  1. Social media doesn’t have to be a distraction.
  1. In your writing, seek both the universal & the specific.
  • Universal stories appeal to a broad swath of readers: characters dealing with parents, love stories, stories of loss—these are all stories of the human condition.
  • Specific details make your story richer.
  • If you are writing cross-culturally, do your research. Debbie Reese has an excellent guide on seeking a cultural expert in Native American issues. Look for similar information on the culture you’re writing about.
  • And write a good book:
    • the most important thing about a diverse book is the same thing as for all books. What matters most:
      • Characterization
      • Plot
      • World-building
      • Pacing
      • Age-appropriate content (though not shying away from edgy topics)
      • Concept
  1. Contextual clues are better than exposition of culture.
  • Show, don’t tell!
  • Remember that your audience includes cultural insiders and outsiders. Balance enough information for outsiders with the possibility of boring insiders with too much basic everyday information.
  1. School visits are a great way to reach diverse students.
  • At the beginning of your career, be willing to do school visits or Skype visits for a low honorarium, until you can build up your resume and network with more teachers.
  • Keep in mind that schools with a high percentage of diverse students are often the most underfunded. They may not have a budget for an honorarium, but may be able to purchase books for students to compensate.

Stacy Whitman is Editorial Director and Publisher of Tu Books, an imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS that publishes diverse science fiction and fantasy for middle grade and young adult readers.

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14. Cybils Finalists for Black History Month

Source: NAACPReaders, February is Black History Month. We've admittedly been a bit busy around here with Cybils reading and judging and whatnot, but while I was trying to settle on today's post topic, I thought it would be a great opportunity to... Read the rest of this post

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15. 7 Core Values to Celebrate During Black History Month

The month of February is a time when many communities pause and celebrate the great contributions made by African Americans in history. At Lee & Low we like to not only highlight African Americans who have made a difference, but also explore the diverse experiences of black culture throughout history, from the struggle for freedom in the South and the fight for civil rights to the lively rhythms of New Orleans jazz and the cultural explosion of the Harlem Renaissance.

We put together a list of titles – along with additional resources 7 Core Values for copy– that align with 7 core values and
themes to help you celebrate both Black History Month and African American culture all 365 days of the year.

It’s important to remember that heritage months, like Black History Month, can encourage a practice of pulling diverse books that feature a particular observed culture for only one month out of the year. To encourage a more everyday approach, we developed an 8-step checklist for building an inclusive book collection that reflects the diversity of the human experience. Teaching Tolerance also offers some helpful solutions to connect multicultural education with effective instructional practices and lists insightful “dos and don’ts” for teaching black history that are applicable to any culturally responsive curriculum or discussion.

How do you celebrate during Black History Month? Or, better yet, how do you help children discover the cultural contributions and achievements of black history all year long? Let us know in the comments!

Perseverance, Determination, & Grit

Leadership & Couragemain_large-4

Teamwork & Collaboration

Responsibility & Commitmentmain_Mooncover

 Optimism & Hope

Compassion & Love

Passion & Pridemain_large

Discussion questions when reading and learning about core values:

  1. How does/do the character(s) show (core value)?
  2. What positive effects are associated with having/showing (core value)?
  3. How do you show (core value)?
  4. How can you work towards having/showing (core value)?
  5. What core values do you think are important to apply in our classroom? Why?

Further reading on teaching core values with students:

Looking for additional resources for teaching Black History? Check out these lesson plans, videos, and tips:

veronicabioVeronica has a degree from Mount Saint Mary College and joined LEE & LOW in the fall of 2014. She has a background in education and holds a New York State childhood education (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6) certification. When she’s not wandering around New York City, you can find her hiking with her dog Milo in her hometown in the Hudson Valley, NY.

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16. Dreams Do Come True

In the world of children’s literature, I can’t think of a day that hasn’t been better than the one before it. On Monday morning, February 2nd, this theory proved true. Diversity in children’s literature was honored in a multitude of ways. Librarians, families, teachers and kids all awaited the Monday morning Youth Media Award announcements with anticipation. They waited to hear if their favorite girl would win an award in more than one category, if their favorite author would garner the top prize, if the book that reflected their lives and spoke to them would stand tall and proud amongst the best of the best. As the medal winners’ names were spoken, dreams were coming true all across the country.

Each day that you have an opportunity to talk about diversity in children’s literature is a day when you are making the world more welcoming and real for all children. Literature awards can spark all kinds of conversations about why we need diverse books. (#WeNeedDiverseBooks).

The news spread far and wide like fire on a prairie (or snow headed for Chicago). Those announcements, though, were just a smattering of the literature awards that will be given this year. Also announced at the American Library Association’s Midwinter conference were the winners of the The Asian Pacific American Library Association (APALA) literature awards. These include a winner and honor book in children’s, young adult, and picture book categories.

The Asian Pacific American Library Association was established in 1980 to create an organization that would address the needs of Asian Pacific American librarians and those who serve Asian Pacific American communities. Since 2001 they have been honoring the best books published in the previous year for children and young adults related to Asian/Pacific American experiences (either historical or contemporary) or Asian/Pacific American cultures.

The APALA winners are announced during the midwinter meeting, but there is no fanfare until the annual ALA conference awards ceremony. And so, while we were all shouting “hooray” for the likes of Jacqueline Woodson, Kwame Alexander, Duncan Tonatiuh and others……..even more dreams were quietly coming true.

2015 Winners:Tiger Girl
Young Adult

Winner: Tiger Girl by May-Lee Chai (GemmaMedia)

Honor: Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang (First Second), illustration by Sonny Liew.

Children’s

Winner: Gaijin: American Prisoner of War by Matt FGaiginaulkner (Disney/Hyperion Books)

Honor: Ting Ting by Kristie Hammond (Sono Nis Press, Canada)

Picture Book

Winner: Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin by Chieri Uegaki and Qin Leng (Kids Can Press)

Hana Hashimoto

 

Honor: Father’s Chinese Opera by Rich Lo (Sky Pony Press)

 

 

 

 

_________________________________________________________________

Andrea R. Milano is a Youth Services Librarian at Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon and she is writing this post on behalf of the Public Awareness Committee.

The post Dreams Do Come True appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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17. Kwame Alexander: Writing Diverse Characters and Books

It was announced this week that Kwame Alexander won the 2015 Newbery Award for his middle grade novel, The Crossover!

Kwame is a poet and author of eighteen books, including Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band (The 2014 Michigan Reads One Book Selection), He Said, She Said (a Junior Library Guild Selection.) He is the founder of Book-in-a-Day, a student-run publishing program that has created more than 3,000 student authors; and LEAP for Ghana, an international literacy project that builds libraries, trains teachers, and empowers children through literature. The Kwame Alexander Papers, a collection of his writings, is held at the George Washington University Gelman Library.



The room is PACKED for Kwame Alexander.

He has us cracking up, telling us about finding time to write and balancing that with spending time with his family.

If we want to write diverse characters, we've got to READ books with diverse characters.

He addresses the fear of being disrespectful, people who say they don't know any diverse people so they can't write that. He says we write books about zombies and vampires and we don't know any of them. It's a cop out to say we don't know diverse characters.

He reads some amazing poems/passages from his Newbery Award-winning THE CROSSOVER, asking us questions about what we know about the character, and why? Is the character Black? Why do we think so? How do we separate out the author from the work?




He shares that a teacher contacted him, saying she needed to know the race of the main character before book-talking The Crossover to her students. He said why? She said the kids were going to ask her. He didn't tell her, but said, let me know if they ask.

The kids never asked.

The problem is not the kids reading the books. The problem is us. In the way we are writing and the way our perceptions color our books.

"We have to change our way of thinking of diversity."

"You have to LIVE a diverse life."

He speaks of bringing the power of words and stories to children in other countries. Of his six trips to Ghana, and the 200 children in a village who had never seen a book with a Black character in it before he visited them.

Kwame calls up Pam Allyn of LitWorld, who shares a story of children in a rural village. She took a photo of them, and then showed them the image - and they had no idea which child they were in the photo. Because in their village, they had no mirrors, no glass, no reflections - they didn't know what they looked like. The power of being able to see themselves in a book is so powerful! Children need mirrors.

Kwame talks about the assumptions about the color of a character based on the book's author if its not called out otherwise, and he tells us to "be bold!"

Assert our vision.

He shares a great list of seven tips and wisdom, including these two:

#3. Be Authentic
(You don't have to make a big thing out of the diverse characters and elements, unless the story dictates that you make a big thing out of the diverse characters and elements.)

#7. Be intentional in your effort to write the kind of world you want your children to live, learn and love in.


Humble. Proud. Charming. Brilliant.

Kwame Alexander - awesome!


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18. ALSC’s Next Steps after Day of Diversity

On Friday, January 30, 2015 the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), in collaboration with the Children’s Book Council hosted the invitation-only Day of Diversity: Dialogue and Action in Children’s Literature and Library Programming. Recognizing the conversations at the event was of interest to a much larger audience than we were able to accommodate at the Day of Diversity, ALSC and the CBC Diversity Committee sponsored a follow up program at ALA Midwinter. ALSC will continue to share information and outcomes from this event widely.

On Monday, February 2nd during their Session II meeting, the ALSC Board of Directors reflected on the Day of Diversity and put together a list of commitments by the Association for the next three months and the next six months.

This isn’t the start of the diversity or inclusion conversation for ALSC, nor by any means is it the end. This list reflects the measurable next steps that ALSC’s leadership has committed the Association to taking in the short term. These steps include educational opportunities for our members and opportunities for all ALSC members to add their voice and ideas to this conversation. We look forward to your participation and feedback throughout.

Completed

  • At the ALSC Board of Directors Session II on Monday, February 2, 2015 – the Board voted to move the start time of ALSC’s All-Committee meeting, during Annual Conference only, to 10:30AM – 12:00PM to allow for more participation by ALSC members at the CSK Breakfast. The Board recognizes that this may limit the amount of time committees have to work, but encourages chairs to work throughout the year virtually between meetings to disperse the workload.

3 Months

  • ALSC President Ellen Riordan will host an open online Day of Diversity Forum in February 2015. Stay tuned for the finalized date and time.
  • ALSC will host a free Building STEAM with Día webinar.
  • ALSC will craft, and make available, a value based elevator speech about Día in order to assist youth services librarians in advocating for resources to plan Día and other multicultural programming.
  • ALSC will convene a taskforce that will review multiple areas within the Association including materials, services and profession; and propose high level changes to move the diversity needle forward within children’s librarianship.

6 Months

  • ALSC will complete a Building STEAM with Día Toolkit.
  • Together, ALSC and the Children’s Book Council, will compile Day of Diversity survey results, resources, and participant’s personal ‘next steps’ and make information available online.
  • An “action” tab will be placed on the Día website which will contain resources shared at the Day of Diversity with additional content added. Additionally, ALSC will link to these resources from the professional tools portion of the ALSC website.
  • ALSC award and evaluation committee chair trainings will include a discussion about inclusion and diversity.

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19. ALSC to receive 2014 USBBY Award #alamw15

Día: Diversity in Action

Día: Diversity in Action (image courtesy of ALSC)

Recently, ALSC was awarded the 2014 Bridge to Understanding Award for their Día Family Book Club Program. ALSC President Ellen Riordan will accept this award from the United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY) during the USBBY Gathering from 8 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 30, 2015 at the Hilton Chicago – Williford A. This event is open to all ALA Midwinter attendees.

Established in memory of Arlene Pillar, an educator who served USBBY as newsletter editor from 1984 until her untimely death in 1990, the Bridge to Understanding Award formally acknowledges programs that use children’s books to promote international understanding among children. The responses of many of the families who participated in the Día Family Book Club show just how successful this program has been.

For more information about the Día Family Book Club program and to download the club toolkit and lesson plans please visit: http://dia.ala.org/content/start-book-club.

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20. What I Learned from a Nonverbal Autistic Classroom-Part 2

In part 1 of this post, I spoke about my experience teaching in a nonverbal autistic classroom and its most meaningful takeaways. Part 2 explores respectful, useful resources for people on the autism spectrum, their family members, and educators.

 What is autism?:

Autism copy

For people on the autism spectrum:

For families of people with ASD:

 Early intervention services & treatment options:

For educators of people with ASD:

Get involved:

Books with characters with disabilities:

Do you have any recommend resources, organizations, or websites that you would like to share with us? Let us know in the comments!

veronicabioVeronica has a degree from Mount Saint Mary College and joined LEE & LOW in the fall of 2014. She has a background in education and holds a New York State childhood education (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6) certification. When she’s not wandering around New York City, you can find her hiking with her dog Milo in her hometown in the Hudson Valley, NY.

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21. Diversity: Special Needs at #alamw15

Lately, I’ve been investigating and thinking about ways we serve young people with special needs, and how it ties in with the heightened focus on diversity.

At yesterday’s “Diversity Matters: Stepping It Up With Action!,” publishers and librarians engaged in a fascinating dialogue about practical ways we can include all voices. We should: hire more diverse staff; reach out to authors from underrepresented backgrounds; do targeted outreach; and develop partnerships with community organizations. But, as many audience members pointed out, our efforts should not only address race, culture, and sexual orientation, but should also include people with special needs.

Here are a few highlights of special needs resources found/represented at #alamw15:

*Remarkable Books about Young People with Special Needs: Stories to Foster Understanding by Alison M. G. Follos (Huron Street Press, 2013)

*Children with Disabilities in the Library – an ALSC online professional development course.

*Schneider Family Book Award, which “honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.”

*The Association for Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA), a division of ALA which provides support and services for libraries and librarians serving special needs communities.

*AccessAbility Academy training module (ASCLA): “Positive Interactions: Making the Library a Welcoming and Empowering Place for People with Disabilities”

* @DisabilityInLit (Twitter feed) – Disability in KidLit, which focuses on the portrayal of disabled characters in MG/YA novels.

*Brooklyn Public Library offers the Child’s Room for Children (and Teens) with Special Needs, which features a universal design space and inclusive programming: a universal Makerspace, gaming, garden club, Legos, and story hours.

*Weplay – #alamw15 was the first time this vendor came to an ALA conference. Their focus is “physical movement and cognitive development equipment.” They offer a free 94-page Sensory Storytime handbook, developed especially for libraries.

Do you have more resources to share? Please post in the comments field.

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22. ALA Youth Media Awards Wins for Lee & Low Books!

Yesterday was the ALA Youth Media Awards, or the “Oscars of Children’s Literature” as they’re sometimes called. It was a big day for diversity. Diverse books and authors were honored across the board and we couldn’t be happier.

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, written by Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrated by Frank Morrison, received the Coretta Scott King Honor for Illustration. Little Melba follows the life of famed trombonist, composer, and arranger Melba Liston who broke through racial and gender barriers to become one of the great unsung heroes of jazz.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 11.49.26 AM

Pat Mora, author of Water Rolls, Water Rises/El agua rueda, el agua sube and many other award-winning titles, won the 2016 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award! This award recognizes an author, librarian, or children’s lecturer who will then present a lecture at a winning host site. In addition to her writing, Pat Mora is also a literacy
advocate. She created Día, a day that celebrates children and the importance of reading.

Congratulations to all the titles honored at the ALA Youth Media Awards!

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23. Choice and Libraries: If You Can't Buy it, Borrow It! by Savita Kalhan

In my blog for An Awfully Big Blog Adventure back in December, I shared a list of some of my favourite teen and young adults books that I'd read in 2014. You can read that blog here - Favourite Teen/YA reads of 2014. Commenting on the blog, David Thorpe asked me an interesting question – why were those books in particular on my favourite reads of the year? His question made me wonder if there was something that linked the books, a shared theme, a particular voice, or a genre. I looked at the list and at first thought: no, the books are all very different. Some of them were written in the first person present, others in the third person past; some had a male POV, others a female. Many of them were set in different parts of the world, or in an alternative world, or in a different time.

All the books in my list are richly diverse in terms of when and where they are set. Most of them are set in different countries, from Denmark to Ireland, Germany to the USA, and  I think that’s part of their lure for me. Many of the books are set in a different time or era: from the 19thCentury to a version of the future, or even a parallel time.

Some of the books are fairy tale like. The Hob and the Deerman reads like a wonderful fairy tale and reminds me of all the fairy stories I read as a child. I would happily invite a Hob to come and share my home. Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood and Co, is set in London – but although the places in the book may be familiar to a Londoner, it’s not quite like the London we know. It’s beset by ghosts and ghouls that only children have the ability to see and deal with. So, when darkness falls, the adults lock their doors, leaving the child agents to do their work.

It was just as I finished reading Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys at Christmas, that I realised there wasa common thread between all the books in my list. Out of the Easy is the story of Josie, the daughter of a prostitute in New Orleans in the 1950’s. It’s a book that I would definitely include in my list of favourite teen/YA reads of 2014.

It is the fact that they are set in a different time and place and sometimes in a different world which sets these books apart, and I think that’s what I love about them. All the writers beautifully evoke their setting, so that by the time you’ve finished their book you come away feeling as though you really know that place.

It’s not only the variety of world settings or time they’re set in that set these books apart for me, but also the variety in the lives of the characters. In both of Tanya Landman’s books, Buffalo Soldier and Apache, the main characters are girls: one is a black slave and the other is an orphaned Apache. If I had a teenage daughter, I would be recommending them to her. (Luckily I have nieces to whom I can recommend books!) But my teen son has no problem with books where the main character is a girl, and is interested in reading both.

The choice available in many bookshops these days does not fully reflect the diversity and richness of teen and young adult fiction. Although bookshops have more space devoted to teen/YA fiction, a lot of that space is still devoted to genre fiction, or to the bigger well-known authors. It would be great to see much more diversity on their shelves too. Most main libraries stock far more richly diverse fiction, although, sadly, smaller local libraries are seeing their stocks dwindle, in some cases (as here in Barnet) being purposely run down by councils prior to being closed or scaled down. Yes, you can still request a book from another library, and in some libraries they will order it for you if it’s not in any of the borough’s libraries. But most of these libraries are now run by volunteers or library assistants, and this is true of virtually all of Barnet’s libraries, and whilst they are good, a qualified librarian’s skills and guidance are not available to kids looking for help. As a child and a teenager, Wycombe Library had a brilliantly stocked library, fantastic librarians, and the choice of children’s books was astounding – I should know as I read practically every book in there!
Here’s an unashamed plug for libraries - it’s National Libraries Day on February 7th. Events are happening in libraries across the country from Friday 6th into the following week. If you have a minute, check out the link here to see what’s going on in your local library.


Here’s the hashtag for National Libraries Day on Twitter #NLD15
Or share a library #shelfie
Follow @NatLibrariesDay on Twitter and you’ll know what’s going on.




So the books are there – if you can find them or have been made aware of them. I’m hoping 2015 will be even more richly diverse in teen and young adult literature. I’m sure I’ve missed a few great reads in 2014, so please feel free to leave your recommendations in the comments. And I’d love to hear what makes a book stand out for you.

My website
 
Twitter


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24. Stella by Starlight, by Sharon M. Draper | Book Review

Stella by Starlight, by esteemed storyteller Sharon M. Draper, is a poignant novel that beautifully captures the depth and complexities within individuals, a community, and society in 1932, an era when segregation and poverty is at the forefront.

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25. ALA Midwinter Day of Diversity Recap and Reflections

Chicago, IL, January 30, 2015
photos courtesy of Dan Bostrom

diversity 102This past weekend, I went to Chicago to attend the first ever Day of Diversity organized by the Association of Library Services for Children (ALSC) and Children’s Book Council (CBC). This event, which took place in conjunction with ALA’s Midwinter Conference, brought together 100 people from all parts of the book world including publishers, editors, librarians, booksellers, and authors. It included a mix of noted diversity advocates and newbies. The ultimate goal was to inform, engage, and ultimately find ways to turn talk into action.

I was part of a History and Myths panel.  The myth busting parts of our talks were as follows:
Jason Low (publisher): Lack of diversity is only a problem in children’s literature
Gene Luen Yang (author): diverse graphic novels are only for diverse readers
Adriana Dominguez (literary agent): Diverse authors are hard to find
K.T. Horning (director of CCBC): We are in a post-racial society

Important takeaway: Diversity sells! Gene Luen Yang proved this when he announced that Ms. Marvel is now the top selling comic at Marvel, even outselling Spiderman. Ms. Marvel is a superhero originally embodied by Carol Danvers as a white, blond woman but who was recently recast as Kamala Khan, a Pakistani American, Muslim teenager from New Jersey.

Arthur Levine (center), Jason Low (right)
Arthur Levine (center), Jason Low (right)

The rest of the day had distinct highs and lows for me. First a high:
the Lightening Talk speeches were excellent since my views of the diversity issue are often from a macro perspective. The Lightening talks reminded me of the very personal reasons people become diversity advocates, which helps to put a human face to the movement.

Important takeaways:
Author Sara Farizan’s retelling of her struggles with sexual identity was quietly funny to the point that she should consider a side career in standup.

Author/Co-founder and President of We need Diverse Books (WNDB), Ellen Oh’s story about her family acting as the inspiration behind why she writes was moving. I will admit I was surprised that she didn’t toot WNDB’s horn a little louder, as she has every right to do. After all, WNDB’s energy and contribution to the diversity movement is that important.

Author Cynthia Letich Smith’s talk created a sense of urgency for me and humanized what is truly at stake. Readers of middle grade and YA novels age out every four years. How many kids have we lost already to adulthood?

Editorial Director of Dial Namrata Tripathi offered a beautiful illustration of the responsibility that comes with being an editor of color and the acceptance of that responsibility. And I wasn’t the only one who thought it was pretty great. While I was complimenting Namrata on her speech, Roger Sutton appeared and asked Namrata if he could reprint her speech for The Horn Book, so look for it in the coming months.

(from left to right) Lydia Breiseth, Pat Mora, Oralia Garza de Cortes
(from left to right) Lydia Breiseth, Pat Mora, Oralia Garza de Cortes

The low points of the day were the breakout sessions. The ambitions of the Day of Diversity were clear: ask hard questions and lean into discomfort. But the format of the breakout sessions lacked the kind of structure and experienced mediators to accomplish this task. Expert diversity trainers would have played a key role in helping to guide discussions into and out of difficult topics. Putting a bunch of people in a room together does not automatically result in sharing, especially when it comes to tough topics like race. Advance preparation with diversity trainers and publishing professionals to familiarize breakout leaders with obstacles and how they relate specifically to publishing’s unique set of problems might have gotten things moving.

The big obstacle that was not addressed (and still needs to be) was:
White privilege. White privilege is the big one. It is the proverbial elephant in the room. It essentially impacts all of the above, from editors, sales staff, and marketing staff to reviewers, librarians, and booksellers. It is the main reason inequality has persisted for so long.

The next day, after the day of diversity had ended, I had a brief conversation with a white editor who had attended the previous day’s event. She stated she wanted to help, but was uncomfortable with her role as a white gatekeeper. Satia Orange’s social justice “Braveheart” call-to-action moment during her closing speech in which she urged us to “do something dramatic,” had struck just the right chord to me, but it was perplexing to this editor. Satia referred to “lives being at stake” and this editor simply did not know what she was talking about.

For those who are not dialed into the lack of diversity and social justice as everyday issues that affect millions, the call to actions may be a couple steps beyond what people new to this issue are ready for. We cannot expect that because someone attends a one-day event on diversity that they are trained and ready to start incorporating diversity into their library, author pool, or marketing plan.

(from left to right) Phoebe Yeh, Carolynn Johnson, René Saldaña, Jr.
(from left to right) Phoebe Yeh, Carolynn Johnson, René Saldaña, Jr.

In my mind, different parts of this discussion could be broken out to different venues. For example, an editor who wants to learn more about how to acquire and develop diverse manuscripts should have a place to learn directly from other editors who have developed skills and experience in this area. Conferences like SCBWI often bring editors together on panels to discuss subjects such as these, but those panels are usually attended by authors and not fellow editors.

At the end of the conference, I learned that thirty librarians were invited to the Day of Diversity. Many of the librarians were more at the beginning stages of their journey in realizing how detrimental racial inequality is to publishing. Perhaps next time, if there is a next time, there could be two conferences, the first for diversity beginners and the second which would go beyond this and would be intended for seasoned diversity advocates only.

While I may sound like I am being hyper critical of the Day of Diversity, the truth is I sincerely appreciate what the organizers did. The scope of the day was ambitious and I applaud tenacious efforts like this to tackle a problem as big and complex as diversity. The diversity problem in publishing is huge and will require many years of trial and error. As we inch closer to answers we will discover that the diversity gap will never conform to a one size fits all solution.

Other recaps of the Day of Diversity:

Debbie Reese from American Indians in Children’s Literature

Librarian Edi Campbell

Children’s Literature Professor Sarah Park

Bookseller Elizabeth Bluemle

Author Janet Wong

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