What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Comments

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Why I Love Librarians, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 17 of 17
1. Interview with a Librarian for Incarcerated Youth

Amy CheneyAmy Cheney is a librarian and advocate who currently runs the Write to Read Juvenile Hall Literacy Program in Alameda County, CA. She has over 20 years experience with outreach, program design, and creation to serve the underserved, including middle school non-readers, adult literacy students, adult inmates in county and federal facilities, students in juvenile halls, non-traditional library users and people of color.

Cheney was named a Mover and Shaker by Library Journal, has won two National awards for her work, the I Love My Librarian award from the Carnegie Institution and New York Times, and was honored at the White House with a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. Her six word memoir: Navigator of insanity, instigator of enlightenment. Her theme song is Short Skirt, Long Jacket by Cake. 

Thank you for being with us, Amy! Let’s start with the basics: how would you describe your job, for someone who has no idea what you do?

Entrepreneur, innovator and relationship builder. But my overall job title would be Schlepper.

How did you become a librarian for incarcerated youth? Was it something you always knew you wanted to focus on, or did you begin your career with a different focus?

When I was a teen, a neighbor was friends with Maya Angelou, and they invited me to hear her speak in a church basement.  I remember clearly not wanting to be there, and then as Maya Angelou spoke with such passion and intensity, I felt the hard armor around my heart begin to crack. I remember the struggle to hold onto what I thought was me, or at least my I am constantly trying to advocate and educate for the library to be a right, and not a privilege that can be taken away.protection: the rage, indifference and sullenness. I recognized that if I was struggling with it, then I wasn’t a fundamentally hateful person. That was life changing for me.  I felt such a deep connection with her as a result of this inner experience, I read every book she wrote as it was published.

It took me a long time to realize that this experience is the basis of my passion for bringing in speakers and activities to stimulate the minds and hearts of those incarcerated. From Shakespeare to Cupcake Brown to Ishmael Beah to MK Asante (wonderfully, one of Maya Angelou’s protege’s), I see kids feel encouraged, enthusiastic and interested in a place that tends to dampen all of that.

In the 80’s I was a part of the anti-nuclear protests – when my friends were released from jail I was horrified to hear there were no books where they had been housed. I immediately started a book drive for the jail and that ultimately led to employment at the library serving those incarcerated in Alameda County.

What does your average day look like? Do you even have an “average day”?

Almost every day involves advocacy. Today one of the staff told me that going to the library was like a field trip, all the kids love it. But, she said, the girls had not “earned” a visit, so they couldn’t come. This didn’t make sense to me. I am constantly trying to advocate and educate for the library to be a right, and not a privilege that can be taken away. I am advocating for youth to be able to come here, as well as in general, advocacy for the youth, library, etc.

What kind of relationship with books do your students have? What kind of role do books play in their lives?

I think initially, many of them have a negative relationship with books and reading, and others have a non-existent relationship with them. Some students do have a positive relationship with reading before they come here, but there is a huge percentage—probably the majority—that start reading here and get excited about it and read more than they ever have in their life.

Regardless of their relationship to books and reading the library is a desired destination and activity. They are fully respected and acknowledged here. And the atmosphere is remarkably different from the rest of the facility. There are plants in here! And windows! And outside the window you can see trees and clouds and birds and grass! Real furniture and comfortable chairs! We play a game (Taboo) and laugh almost every library visit.

there is a huge percentage—probably the majority—that start reading here and get excited about it and read more than they ever have in their lifeThe majority of the kids here ultimately develop a positive relationship with books and reading. Books are a de-stressor, they are a life saver. In fact, the staff that call me the most, that request that I come down and talk to a kid or bring a kid a book, are the therapeutic staff. They also advocate with me for kids on suicide watch, etc. to be able to have a book. Today I went out and talked to a kid that has been under a blanket for hours if not days. He actually sat up and showed some life when I brought him some books.

Are there any books that your students are scrambling for? What flies off your shelves?

The bottom line is a. anything with action, and b. something they can personally relate to. And c, it makes huge difference if the cover is dynamic. My job is to find those books that have the right combination of the above. It’s a constant part of my job. While there are a few authors
MIDNIGHT, Sister Souljahwhose books I can’t keep on the shelf no matter what  (Sister Souljah, Cupcake Brown, Tookie Williams, Coe Booth, Alison Van Diepen, Alan Sitomer), there are others whose books I work hard to bring to light.  Right now as I look around I don’t see any of MK Asante’s Buck, for example. That’s an accomplishment: a cover with only words and no visuals isn’t something that in general attracts them. He visited here and so his book has taken off. He also stimulated the youth to read about their history, the history of rap music and books about the educational system in the US. Yah Hoo!

What kinds of books are allowed in a juvenile detention center? What kinds of books are not allowed?

In general, what is NOT allowed is anything that’s graphically sexual or violent or that outlines how to make a weapon or alcohol—something that would be a direct threat to the security of the institution.

What is “allowed” is a huge issue, and is one reason that we wanted to create a listserve, web page Library Services for Youth in Custody, and now the In the Margins book award. My hope is that the book award will lend legitimacy to our titles and hopefully enable more facilities to carry them. I am working with a facility right now that says, “Books must be limited in violence, sexually explicit material, promotion of drug or alcohol abuse and vampire stories.”  It’s just bizarre the things people come up with to exclude and how they word and interpret it.

In my facility, I’ve made the choice not to advocate for “street lit” mainly because I think that There is definitely a group of kids - maybe 5% - I am unable to engage in reading due to my choice to not advocate for street lit.battle is too big to fight since I’m fighting for kids to get to the library. In addition, I spend a huge portion of my life finding books that I believe will work with both the authorities and the kids. Street Lit titles often do have a lot of violence and sex in them which is why I’ve chosen not to advocate for them – but it’s a hard choice every day, and one full of contradictions. There is definitely a group of kids – maybe 5% – I am unable to engage in reading due to my choice to not advocate for street lit.

What do you wish people knew or understood about incarcerated youth?

They are super resourceful. They are caught in a trap not of their own making—poverty—and are punished for many of the things that I, and honestly, most of us did when teenagers. I am constantly amazed the privilege afforded the white middle class and what people of color and/or those from the poverty and working classes have to work extra hard for.

A recent example: Kareem, who is a college educated African American wrote me an email and then recalled it because of the typos.  Meanwhile I wrote an email to the head of a very lucrative organization. My email was typed in lower case, and even had the phrase, “gratitude for all you do, dude.” I mean, not exactly thoughtful. Would anyone question that I was college educated? I doubt it. Kareem, and his beautiful, eloquent email with a few typos—he felt the need to correct it in order to present himself in the best possible light. It’s exhausting to constantly have to do that. And that is a *minor* incident.

There is so much policing and criminalization of poor youth and youth of color, I don’t think the majority of white middle class people really understand the depths of the inequity and the daily assaults. The juvenile hall (criminal justice system) is the crucible of race and class inequity in America.

Being in a detention facility, what unique limitations are you working with that a public or traditional school librarian might not be dealing with? 

You know the supposed foundation of our country, that we are all innocent until proven guilty? For the most part, that’s not in operation here. There are a lot of unspoken power dynamics and struggles. When I’m in the living units I’m on the staff’s terms to a certain extent. When they are in the library, it’s more on my terms, but they always have the power to override me. It is definitely a dance.

There is so much policing and criminalization of poor youth and youth of color, I don’t think the majority of white middle class people really understand the depths of the inequity and the daily assaults.There is a completely different culture in a facility and if you don’t learn what the norms are you can’t be effective. There are unspoken rules and meanings. For example, kids walking down the hallway with their hands behind their backs are living there—on their way to court or medical. Kids walking with their hands by their sides are on their way out of the institution. There is a spoken language that is not used “on the outs” with phrases like, “the tone is high,” “live scan,” “pods,” “talking is dead,” and “prepare for transition.”

The biggest limitation is “security” issues. Those can run the gamut from restricted access to the internet or books on tape to candy, pencils, and envelopes, or even to students being prohibited from getting out of their chair on their own volition.  Things that you would never imagine are security issues can be seen that way from a certain perspective (that I actually have come to understand on some level). These limitations force a creative response.

Are there any common misconceptions you’d like to correct about what you do?

I think the biggest misconception is that the kids are hard to work with. And I’m not saying they aren’t hard to work with. I’m also not saying we don’t have seriously disturbed and disturbing kids. But in actuality, it’s the entire toxic system of mass incarceration that’s hardest to work with.  Finding your correct place in that toxicity is challenging, ever evolving, yet doable. The kids are the least of the problems.


Filed under: Musings & Ponderings, The Diversity Gap Tagged: interview, justice system, juvenile justice, libraries, social justice, Why I Love Librarians

5 Comments on Interview with a Librarian for Incarcerated Youth, last added: 4/7/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
2. The Origins of the Coretta Scott King Award

In this guest post, Dr. Henrietta M. Smith, Professor Emerita and the first African-American professor at the University of South Florida, School of Information shares her memories of how the Coretta Scott King Award began:

The news of the damage sustained by the boardwalk in Atlantic City during Hurricane Sandy brought back memories of where the Coretta Scott King Award started. This writer’s mind went back to an earlier time, to an American Library Association annual meeting in Atlantic City. Never since the inception of the Newbery Medal...The year was 1969. Two librarians walking through the exhibit hall stopped by a booth where a poster of the late Martin Luther King Jr. was on display. This was the start of a genial conversation that evolved into the observation that never since the inception of the Newbery Medal in 1922 and the Caldecott Medal in 1938 had any award committee recognized the work of a person of color.

John Carroll, a publisher from a small company in New York, overheard the conversation. It was reported that he said, rather matter of factly, “Then why don’t you ladies establish your own award?” The seed was planted. Before the conference ended, in an informal meeting on the boardwalk in Atlantic City under the leadership of Glyndon Greer and Mabel McKissick, the idea of a award for African American authors was shared with a group of African American librarians, including Augusta Baker, Charlemae Rollins, Ella Mae Yates, and Virginia Lacy Jones, to name a few. At this seaside gathering, the struggle for recognition began.

CORETTA KING SEALThe ALA questioned the need for another award. A majority of publishers informed the committee that they did not have enough children’s books by African Americans to provide for evaluation. And many librarians were skeptical of anything becoming of this fragile brainchild. Undaunted and unconvinced that this venture was fruitless, the committee moved on. In 1970, the first Coretta Scott King Awards breakfast was scheduled in a hotel that just “happened” not to be on the ALA list of official hotels. After a meager meal and short program, the first recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award was announced. A school librarian from New Jersey, Lillie Patterson, went down in history as the first winner of the award for her elementary level biography, Martin Luther King, Jr.: Man of Peace.

Ray Charles

from Ray Charles

It was not until 1974 that the award breakfast was held in an ALA conference site, but even then, the CSK Award was not recognized as an official ALA award, nor was the award committee recognized as an official ALA body. But to the joy of all, publishers were now sending more quality books, and attendance at the 7:30 a.m. breakfast was steadily growing! Another change came in 1974 when the committee presented its first illustrator award. George Ford, who is still painting today, won for the illustrations he created for Sharon Bell Mathis’ biography Ray Charles.

In the years that followed, a major breakthrough came when E. J. Josey was elected president of the ALA. One of his first concerns was to bring the Coretta Scott King Committee into the official folds of the American Library Association. In 1980, the Coretta Scott King Committee became the Coretta Scott King Task Force, a viable part of Social Responsibilities Task Force (since 1993 a part of EMIERT), with founder Glyndon Greer as its first chair.

Growth and changes can be seen as the benchmark of this dynamic group of librarians. Artist Lev Mills designed the medal that is placed on each award-winning book. The symbols in the medal’s design each carry a special message; even the colors of the winner and honor book medals, and the more recent new talent award medal, have significance. The monetary prize for the winners was first given through the efforts of the late Basil O. Phillips of the Johnson Publishing Company, and today the encyclopedias from Britannica and World Book have moved from print into the digital age.Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award seal

Following negotiations with the ALA parent body on Awards and Recognitions, and the late John Steptoe’s son, illustrator Javaka Steptoe, in 1995, the New Talent Award was established. It was named in honor of John Steptoe, whose first book, Stevie (1969), won national acclaim when the author/illustrator was only nineteen years of age.

With each meeting of the Coretta Scott King Task Force, new ideas for growth are on the docket. Among the newest is the Coretta Scott King/Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, which goes to an African American author, illustrator, author/illustrator, or practitioner (such as a librarian) for his or her body of work or contributions to reading programs involving African American literature. Changes are constantly in the works too. New ideas for creating greater visibility and wider use of Coretta Scott King Award books and materials are a part of every Task Force meeting.

To think that all this started with a meeting on the boardwalk in Atlantic City! The very spot may not be there now, but surely the news reports about Hurricane Sandy conjured up many of these same memories for those who met on the boardwalk way back in 1969.

Dr. Henrietta M. Smith, native New Yorker, received her MLS degree from Columbia University and EdD from University of Miami, Florida. She teaches in the Materials for Youth in the School of Information (University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida). Longtime member of the ALA, Smith has served on Newbery Caldecott, Wilder (Chair), and Pura Belpré Award committees for ALSC and has chaired the Coretta Scott King Task Force and the CSK Award Committee. Smith received the ALSC Distinguished Service Award in 2008 and in 2011 was the first practitioner recipient of the Coretta Scott King/Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement in Librarianship.


Filed under: guest blogger, Musings & Ponderings, Publishing 101, Resources Tagged: African American history, African/African American Interest, american library association, awards, black history month, coretta scott king awards, Why I Love Librarians

1 Comments on The Origins of the Coretta Scott King Award, last added: 2/25/2013
Display Comments Add a Comment
3. Happy birthday, Richard Wright

Richard Wright

Author Richard Wright was born on September 4, 1908 on a plantation in rural Mississippi. He attended school through the first few weeks of high school before he dropped out to work, but always maintained a deep love of reading. As a black man in the South at that time, he was not allowed to borrow books from the library, so he borrowed the library card of an Irish American co-worker to access books. He later became a respected author of such classics as Native Son and his autobiography, Black Boy. Happy birthday, Richard Wright!

Learn more about Richard Wright in our picture book, Richard Wright and the Library Card.


Filed under: Holidays Tagged: African/African American Interest, diversity, Educators, richard wright and the library card, Why I Love Librarians

0 Comments on Happy birthday, Richard Wright as of 9/4/2012 7:35:00 PM
Add a Comment
4. Diverse Dystopias: A Book List

In honor of the upcoming release of our new YA anthology, Diverse Energies, we thought we’d put together a list of dystopias with diversity. For the purposes of this list, our definition of diversity is: 1.) A book with a main character of color (not just secondary characters), or 2.) A book written by an author of color. Of course, all types of diversity are worth celebrating, so if you know of other diverse dystopias (with, for example, LGBT diversity) please share them in the comments as well.

Note: I have not personally read all of these books, but have tried to confirm the inclusion of diverse main characters whenever possible. However, mistakes are bound to be made, so if you’ve read something and don’t think it belongs on this list, please let us know. Likewise if we’ve missed something that should be here.

If you’re a visual learner, the whole thing is on Pinterest:

Diverse Dystopias book list

And now, onward:

Above World, by Jenn Reese: (middle grade) In this dystopia, overcrowding has led humans to adapt so that they can live under the ocean or on mountains.

The Boy at the End of the World, by Greg van Eekhout: (middle grade) In this dystopia, the last boy on earth teams up with an overprotective broken robot to survive.

Battle Royale, by Koushun Takami: (YA) This novel, first published in Japan, has the same premise as The Hunger Games, and many have wondered if that book was inspired by it in some way.

Black Hole Sun, by David Macinnis Gill: (YA) A science fiction dystopia set on a terraformed Mars.

Diverse Energies, by 11 speculative fiction authors: (YA)This anthology features dystopian stories that all feature diverse main characters. Contributing authors include Paolo Bacigalupi, Malinda Lo, Cindy Pon, and Ursula K. Le Guin. Coming in September 2012.

Dualed, by Elsie Chapman: (YA) A dystopia coming in February 2013. The author is a woman of color, but I’m not sure about the main character. If you’ve read it, feel free to comment.

Extras, by Scott Westerfeld: (YA) The fourth installment in Westerfeld’s “Uglies” series takes place in what was once Japan.

The Forgetting Curve (Memento Nora #2), by Angie Smibert: (YA) Dystopia where memories can be erased with a single pill.

For the Win, by Cory Doctorow: (YA) Science fiction dystopia focused on a group of young gamers from around the world who begin to organize.

The “Galahad” Series, by Dom Testa: (YA) In this post-apocalyptic series, a crew of teens must colonize a distant planet when a virus infects all those on Earth who are over 18.

The House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer: (YA) This dystopia about the struggle between science and humanity won both a Newbery Award Honor and a Printz Award Honor when it was released in 2003.

The Immortal Rules, by Julie Kagawa: (YA) This dystopia is set in a future world where vampires reign.

Legend, by Marie Lu: (YA) In this dystopia, the western US has become the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors.

Noughts & Crosses, by Malorie Blackman: (YA) This dystopia is a look at racism and prejudice in an alternate society ruled by the Crosses, the dark-skinned ruling class.

Partials, by Dan Wells: (YA) This science fiction dystopia takes place after a weaponized virus has all but extinguished humanity. Mixed-race MC.

Rot & Ruin, by Jonathan Maberry: (YA) This post-apocalyptic zombie novel has dystopian elements, along with a main character who is half Japanese.

Shadows Cast by Stars, by Catherine Knutsson: (YA) This dystopian tale features a main character of aboriginal heritage.

Shatter Me, by Tahereh Mafi: (YA) Dystopia about a girl whose touch can kill. The author is a woman of color.

Ship Breakerby Paolo Bacigalupi: (YA) This Printz Award-winning dystopia is set in America’s Gulf Coast region, which has been ravaged by hurricanes.

Stormdancer, by Jay Kristoff: (YA) This novel set in an alternate Japan may be more steampunk than dystopia, but has some dystopian elements as well.

Tankborn, by Karen Sandler: (YA) This science fiction dystopia is set on the planet Loka, where a strict caste system separates trueborns from Genetically Engineered Non-humans.

What’s Left of Me, by Kat Zhang: (YA) A dystopia about two souls in one body. Coming in September 2012.

Parable of the Sower, by Octavia E. Butler: (adult) A dystopia about a society plagued by social chaos and violence.

Smoketown, by Tenea D. Johnson: (adult) This dystopian science fiction novel takes place in Appalachia, now a tropical environment in post-climate-change US.

The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi: (adult) Another science fiction dystopia from the author of Ship Breaker. This one is for adults and takes place in future-Thailand.

Further Reading:

YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels with Protagonists of Color

Multicultural Science Fiction and Fantasy (middle grade and YA)

Diversity in YA (no longer active, but still a good resource)

More fun booklists about diversity


Filed under: Book Lists, Curriculum Corner Tagged: Book Lists, diversity, dystopia, Multiracial, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Teens/YA, Tu Books, Why I Love Librarians

4 Comments on Diverse Dystopias: A Book List, last added: 9/19/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
5. ALA 2012: California-Bound

Wasn’t it *just* March? Hard to believe we’re already getting ready for ALA Annual in just a few short weeks. The best part of ALA is always meeting people face to face, and we hope many of you will come find us at Booth #2436 to say hello in person.

We’ll be giving out ARCs of Summer of the Mariposas, Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s follow-up to her award-winning Summer of the Mariposasdebut Under the Mesquite. We’ll also have a limited number of ARCs of Diverse Energies, our upcoming YA dystopian anthology with stories by Ursula K. Le Guin, Paolo Bacigalupi, Cindy Pon, Malinda Lo, and more.

Plus, of course, we’ll have signings with some great authors and illustrators:

Saturday

11AM-12PM: Christy Hale (The East-West House, Elizabeti’s Doll)

1:30-2:30PM: Marilyn Singer (A Full Moon is Rising)

Sunday

10-11AM: Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Under the Mesquite, Summer of the Mariposas)

11AM-12PM: John Parra (Gracias ~ Thanks)

1:30-2:30PM: Eloise Greenfield (Paul Robeson, When the Horses Ride By)

2:30-3:30PM: Ken Min (Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-Ji)

3:30-4:30PM: Anastasia Suen (Toddler Two, Pencil Talk and Other School Poems)

We hope to see you there!


Filed under: Musings & Ponderings Tagged: ALA, events, Why I Love Librarians
0 Comments on ALA 2012: California-Bound as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
6. Come See Our Authors at TLA!

We won’t be at the Texas Library Association annual conference this week, but if you’ll be there you can still connect with two fantastic Lee & Low authors!

It Jes' Happened coverDon Tate, author of It Jes’ Happened and illustrator of books like Summer Sun Risin’, will be a keynote speaker at the Black Caucus Roundtable (April 19, 8-10AM) and will also appear on the panel “Books, Boys, and Boxing: Motivating Minority Males to Read” (April 19, 2-3:50PM). He will also be signing copies of It Jes’ Happened with Overlooked Books at booth #2629 (April 18, 12-3PM).

Under the Mesquite coverGuadalupe Garcia McCall, author of Belpré winner and Morris finalist Under the Mesquite, will be reading her poetry during the 8th Annual Poetry Roundup: “Face to Face for All (April 20, 10-11:20AM). Guadalupe will also be signing Under the Mesquite at the Overlooked Books booth, #2629 (April 19, 12-3PM).


Filed under: Book News Tagged: events, It Jes' Happened, Under the Mesquite, Why I Love Librarians

0 Comments on Come See Our Authors at TLA! as of 4/17/2012 4:44:00 PM
Add a Comment
7. ALA 2011: Laissez les bon temps roulez!

We’re getting excited to head down to New Orleans this week for the American Library Association Annual Conference. New Orleans has always been one of my favorite cities, and I’m looking forward to eating piles of beignets meeting many awesome librarians while we’re down there. If you’ll be there too, please stop by booth #1132 to say hello! Here’s what we’ll have going on:

SATURDAY, 2-3PM: Under the Mesquite ARC signing and giveaway with debut author Guadalupe Garcia McCall. This is a PHENOMENAL book – it made me cry right at my desk – so you’ll definitely want to snag a copy.

SUNDAY, 10:30-11:30AM: Signing with Christine Taylor-Butler, author of Sacred Mountain: Everest

2-3PM: Signing with Anastasia Suen, author of Pencil Talk and Other School Poems

3-4PM: Signing with Marilyn Singer, author of A Full Moon is Rising

MONDAY, 10-11AM: Signing with Javaka Steptoe, author and illustrator of The Jones Family Express

11AM-12PM: Signing with Sonia Lynn Sadler, illustrator of Seeds of Change and winner of this year’s Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in Illustration

We’ll also have ARCs of our first three fall titles from TU BOOKS, our new science fiction/fantasy imprint.

picture of ARCs

ALA goodies - come and get 'em!

Trust me you guys, you won’t want to miss these.

Looking forward to seeing some of you there! If you’ve got fun restaurant recommendations or things to do, be sure to leave them in the comments. And if you can’t attend, stay tuned for a special giveaway just for you!


Filed under: Book News, Publishing 101 Tagged: events, Why I Love Librarians 0 Comments on ALA 2011: Laissez les bon temps roulez! as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
8. Winning a Big One

Winning a major book award is surprising every time it happens. Like all publishers, we pretend not to pay attention to the mock award committee announcements that multiply in our inboxes each December and early January. Of course, we do not deny ourselves a little excitement when we spot one of our titles on someone’s favorites list, but we try to keep our expectations realistic. The chances of winning one of the “big” awards are like the chances of winning the Lotto, and it is a good idea to protect ourselves by not letting our hopes get too high.

award seals

¡Olé!

This season, however, we did win some big awards, and it felt great to have our books recognized and included in the good company of books from other houses that we know and respect. Also worth mentioning is the fact that we received as many awards as quite a few larger houses, which is an accomplishment for independent publishing.

An award designation means a book will be read by a wider audience. As our books are included in library collections across the country, those collections become more diverse by the sheer presence of our books. Awards give validation not only to the quality of the books we publish, but to the very core of our mission to promote cultural diversity, take risks on stories that need to be told, and nurture new talent.

January was a fantastic month for LEE & LOW, and our hopes that 2011 will turn into a year to remember would not be possible without readers like you who have supported us year in and year out. We are grateful to everyone out there who has read and enjoyed our books and has helped spread the word about books that are “about everyone” and “for everyone.” We could not do what we do without you. Thank you all.


Filed under: Bellringers, Dear Readers Tagged: Why I Love Librarians

2 Comments on Winning a Big One, last added: 2/4/2011
Display Comments Add a Comment
9. This Week in Diversity: Awards Edition!

We took a short break from blogging in the wake of last week’s big event in the children’s book world: the American Library Association’s annual announcement of their Youth Media Awards—or, as some like to call it, “The Oscars of Children’s Literature.” No outlandish outfits at these Oscars, but a few of our books do now have nice, shiny accessories on their covers:

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty, winner of the Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor and an ALA Notable Children’s Book

Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace, winner of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in Illustration

Seeds of Change

¡Olé! Flamenco, winner of the Pura Belpré Author Award Honor and an ALA Notable Children’s Book

And a bit more good news we received:

Yummy is on YALSA’s Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers and the Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens lists for 2011!

Seeds of Change is on the Amelia Bloomer Project 2011 List from the American Library Association’s Feminist Task Force

and Sharing Our Homeland is a Sydney Taylor Notable Book from the Association of Jewish Libraries

We are THRILLED THRILLED THRILLED to have so many of our books honored this year! It’s really something for a small indie publisher like us to be able to make a showing in the big leagues like this.

On that note, Kyra over at Black Threads in Kid’s Lit has a fascinating breakdown of Coretta Scott King Award statistics, including some interesting numbers on winners broken down b

4 Comments on This Week in Diversity: Awards Edition!, last added: 1/24/2011
Display Comments Add a Comment
10. This Week in Diversity: Prizes and Veterans

There’s been a lot of chatter about prizes lately!

The ALA has added another children’s book award—and more diversity. The new Stonewall Award for Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award will be recognizing books for young readers relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender experience.

There could also be a prize for you! To raise money for the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship, which sends emerging writers of color to workshops, the Carl Brandon Society is giving away five e-readers preloaded with short stories, essays, and poetry by science fiction and fantasy writers of color. They’re not children’s books, but we may just read them anyway.

Prizes done, we turn to something more solemn. Yesterday, of course, was veteran’s day. In honor of the occasion, we leave you with an image from Quiet Hero: The Ira Hayes Story:


Filed under: Diversity Links Tagged: African/African American Interest, Book Lists, diversity, LGBT, Native American, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Why I Love Librarians

0 Comments on This Week in Diversity: Prizes and Veterans as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
11. What I’m Celebrating for Banned Books Week

I had an interesting discussion the other day. Let me just start off by saying that I feel pretty strongly anti-censorship and would never advocate the banning of books. But I was speaking with a friend about the second Twilight installment and how uncomfortable it made me. At the beginning, Vampire Edward leaves Bella, after which she spends a year putting herself in all kinds of danger just to bring him back. She actually comes close to killing herself so he’ll come back to her. That is not OK with me. I said to my friend, “I’m afraid that teen girls will look at Bella as a role model and see this as an ideal relationship,” and it seemed to me that this was a story that could do real damage to readers.

Twilight shot

"Get away from me, you creep."

The content that we deem dangerous varies: for some of us it’s sex or drugs or a certain 4-letter word, and sometimes it’s stories that just aren’t in line with our values, whether they be feminist, religious, political, etc. I think that ultimately the instinct to protect young readers is one we all share, and it is fundamentally a good instinct: it’s because we care.

And that’s why, for me, Banned Books Week is not just about celebrating our favorite banned books (although…The Giver! Harry Potter! every single Goosebumps book!) but the books that were banned that maybe we don’t love so much, those that we even find troubling. This is a week to remind ourselves once again that books are complex, and people are complex, and there’s no predicting all the magical ways that a book will change the person who picks it up.

I am grateful that Twilight has turned so many people into readers, and it deserves a place in every young adult collection. And I’m also grateful for all the books that have meant so much to me that other people saw fit to leave in libraries and bookstores when they personally didn’t agree with them or like them. Keeping some books accessible requires courage, and that’s the courage I celebrate this week. What books are you celebrating, even though they’re not your favorites?

And…TRIVIA! Can you guess which Lee & Low title has been challenged? First person to guess correctly in the comments below wins a copy.

Hint: It was published before 2000, and the topic falls under American History.


Filed under: Musings & Ponderings Tagged: Censorship, Why I Love Librarians 4 Comments on What I’m Celebrating for Banned Books Week, last added: 9/30/2010
Display Comments Add a Comment
12. This Week in Diversity: Arizona, the Supreme Court, and Crayons

Before we launch into this week’s roundup of race and diversity links, I’d like to make a plea: help your local library. Many around the country are facing massive budget cuts, so let your elected officials know that your library is important. New Yorkers, NYPL has a handy form to help you contact your City Council member and the mayor, in the hopes of preventing massive service cuts, including closing ten branches and limiting the library to four open days per week.

Now, to diversity!

White people adopting children of color is discussed relatively often, but Charles Mudede looks at the other side: what it says when a black person adopts a white child.

The New York Times brings us a great story about Chinese teachers coming to the United States, and learning as much about the U.S. as they teach about China.

The Supreme Court is, of course, big news lately. ColorLines brings us a Fantasy Supreme Court, nine passionate legal scholars who happen to be a picture of diversity, and many of whom have worked on race issues. And according to a recent poll, the public overwhelmingly says that a nominee being black, female, protestant, or gay is not a factor.

That’s clearly progress, but what about Arizona? It just passed a law banning ethnic studies classes, (wrongly) claiming that courses focusing on, say, Latino authors foster resentment. And, of course, we can’t forget its recent immigration law, cleverly illustrated with Crayola’s multicultural crayons by Angry Asian Man:


Filed under: Diversity Links Tagged: Adoption, African/African American Interest, Asian/Asian American Interest, Educators, Immigration, Language, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican Interest, Why I Love Librarians 0 Comments on This Week in Diversity: Arizona, the Supreme Court, and Crayons as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
13. “Paradise is a kind of library…”

Anyone who loves books loves libraries, and even though they’re worth celebrating year-round, it’s especially important now. Why? Well, for one it’s National Library Week. Ironically, we’re also in the midst of a huge round of budget cuts for libraries all over the country. Time’s growing short, but it’s not too late to let your public officials know how important libraries are to all of us! The ALA has a quick and easy way to show your support:

1. Please go to http://capwiz.com/ala/ and click on “call your senators now to support library funding.”

2. Scroll down and customize the sample email message as you see fit — remember, a brief but personal story on how your library helps your community matters the most! Change the subject heading to “please sign the Dear Appropriator letter for libraries.”

3. Enter your contact information.

4. Press “Send Message.”

5. If you would prefer to call your senators’ offices, feel free to dial the Capitol switchboard at 202.224.3121 and ask for your senator. The switchboard will transfer you to their office. If you don’t know who your senator is, visit here and type in your zip code.

6. Please ask your friends and supporters to call. We need as many individuals to contact the senators as possible so they know this is an important issue and that voters want them to support it.

We only have 72 hours to go! The deadline for these “Dear Appropriator” to be received by the Appropriations Committee is April 14, so it is important that you email or call your senators offices today, as well as encourage others to do so, and ask them to sign onto a “Dear Appropriator” letter that is circulating around the Senate. This letter will be sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee and will be asking the committee to support the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries (ILTSL) program in its FY2011 budget.

If you’re in NJ, state funding is coming under the ax as well as federal funding. Take a look here for ways to support New Jersey libraries. I myself spent many happy hours in the South Brunswick Public Library and seeing it in peril is really scary.

Remember, libraries are not just good for books! They provide free internet access for those who can’t afford it at home, help people find jobs, teach students how to research, provide a safe haven for kids after school, and provide a meeting place for communities. Shelli over at Market My Words has a great list of reasons why everyone should use their public library (Reason #6: Who else is going to learn the Dewey Decimal System? You?) And be sure to check out this adorable letter from a first grader in Indiana that begins, “Dear the government, I don’t like that you’re firing our school librarians.”

I leave you with this quote from the oh-so-wise Lemony Snicket:
“A library is like an island in the middle of a vast sea of ignorance, particularly if the library is very tall and the surrounding area has been flooded.”

If anyone knows of any other ways to support libraries, post them here in the comments and I’ll update!


Filed under: Musings & Ponderings Tagged: Why I Love Librarians 0 Comments on “Paradise is a kind of library…” as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
14. This Week in Diversity: Forgotten Shades of Grey


It’s bitterly cold outside (at least here in New York), so stay inside and read! Here’s this week’s selection of articles and essays.

Last month we shared an Indian ad for White Beauty, a skin-lightening cream. Now, a study is highlighting the dangers of these types of products, many of which contain steroids or mercury. A NYTimes Op-Ed looks beyond the products and into the roots of their popularity with an exploration of colorism, the tendency to be biased towards people with lighter skin, even within one’s own racial or ethnic group.

On Wednesday, newscaster Chris Matthews commented that during the State of the Union, he “forgot Obama was black.” Ta-Nahisi Coates examines the comment and the assumptions that underlie it, explaining why the well-intentioned comment is deeply problematic and a concept of “invented truth.”

Meanwhile, we’re all still thinking about Haiti. Henry Louis Gates gives us all a history lesson, going over the troubled and troubling relationship between Haiti and the U.S., starting with Thomas Jefferson’s fear that a black republic would incite American slaves to rise and revolt.

Lastly, in book-related news, there’s a new exposé into the secret world of offline book piracy, where shadowy individuals known to one another as “librarians” lend books in silent, hidden dens of iniquity called “libraries.”

0 Comments on This Week in Diversity: Forgotten Shades of Grey as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
15. Gracias • Thanks wins a Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor!


Gracias • Thanks by Pat Mora, illustrated by John Parra, has been awarded Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor!

Given by the Association for Library Services to Children, the Belpré Award and Honors are given to Latino/Latina authors and illustrators whose work celebrates the Latino experience. We’re very proud of the book, and we’re very pleased that the committee has recognized John Parra with an Honor for his outstanding illustration of Pat Mora’s poetic text.

Have a look at some of that stunning art:
illustration from Gracias Thanks illustrated by John Parra written by Pat Mora 2010 Pura Belpre Honor Book

Congratulations, John, and thank you, Belpré Committee!

1 Comments on Gracias • Thanks wins a Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor!, last added: 1/20/2010
Display Comments Add a Comment
16. Beauty and Brains: Just in case…

Just in case I cannot make myself post tomorrow morning before I leave for work at 5:30 am, I thought I should alert my lovely readers to the following. Whether or not you follow the comic world, I think someone should alert fanboys and girls everywhere that Dark Horse is employing its very own pin-up. That’s right, kids, the assistant editor who is responsible for this (as well as working on other comics) is also a new poster girl for Original Sin Hard Cider (considered the “top American Cider” by the NY Times).

Don’t believe me? Well look:




(Click picture to enlarge.)


It seemed only right to post this in honor of Saturday being Free Comic Book day across America. If you're looking to feed your habit, or just learn a little something about the industry, that's the day to hit your local comic book shop and check out the selection. Who knows? You might just find something you like.

The interesting thing about this picture—to me anyway—is that it was based on a photograph taken in my living room. Miss Assistant Editor came over and worked her sexy, bad ass thing with an apple while HTC did her best Tyra impression to get the look we thought the artist was going for. That, plus wine, made the night full of laughs. Our poster girl wasn’t wearing fishnets or a red dress (go artistic license), but that green couch-type thingie is definitely based on my over stuffed chair.

My overstuffed chair is famous, y’all! Oh yeah, and so is my partner in bad dancing. I'm so proud of her. I truly hope someone brings a copy of this to the next comic-con she attends and has her sign it. That would make my day. Hers too, after she stopped blushing, of course. (I'm such a horrible friend.)

The artist, R. Black, has most (if not all) of Original Sin’s promotional design as well as posters for different events and album covers. If you’re looking to waste some time I suggest checking out his whole portfolio. I would love for someone to turn him loose on a book cover and see what he comes up with. It would certainly by eye catching.

3 Comments on Beauty and Brains: Just in case…, last added: 5/5/2007
Display Comments Add a Comment
17. This Week in Diversity: Covers, Cultures, and Cares, Oh My!


We get a lot of bookish news and links from librarian Betsy Bird’s blog, A Fuse #8 Production, and its Fusenews collections of literary links. This week, she brought us a couple stories of covers that we’re happy to pass along. First, we have the cover to PW’s Trends in African-American Publishing issue causing a bit of controversy. Frolab looks at the arguments and asks us to Pick Fros Not Fights!. Second, she leads us to Stacked, where they’re taking a look at a different sort of diversity—or lack thereof— on covers: Where have all the fat girls gone? “Think about all of the covers you see: they’re ALL thin. Every. Last. One. Of. Them. Even if the book doesn’t talk about the weight or shape of a character, the cover makes him/her thin.” Well, not every cover, but she’s got a point.

Moving on from covering books to covering songs, some people are asking, Is ‘Glee’ a Little Bit Racist? They point out that though the cast of characters is diverse, the storylines are consistently about the white folk.

On a more serious note, The New York Times brings us a story of rising gang violence among the Sioux of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and the efforts of many to fight the rise in gang culture by encouraging native traditions.

Race hasn’t come up much in the health care debate, despite a notable difference in the care received by whites as by people of color. Ta-Nahesi Coates highlights this gap and takes a pragmatic if counterintuitive look at why it’s not being talked about.

Enjoy your weekend, everybody!

1 Comments on This Week in Diversity: Covers, Cultures, and Cares, Oh My!, last added: 12/21/2009
Display Comments Add a Comment