Good morning!

For those of you who are moms, Happy Mothers Day to you!

I considered listing some of my favorite YALit moms but really had a hard time coming up with any. Not everything I read is POC, but for the sake of my blog, I would list fictional moms of color. You know what? Quite often the mom has passed away and the dad is raising the children as in My Life as a Rhombus,  and How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won A Bubba Sized Trophy. These dads managed to have good relationships with the main character of the story.

More often, she’s a busy working mom and grandma or dad has a better relationship with the children than the mom such as in the Drama High series, Mare’s War, and Stringz.

Most often, we get the mother through the eyes of the child who sees mom as one who cannot relate and is out of date. The mom is most concerned with sexual activity and rarely is there a well developed relationship. Mothers seem to have lofty expectations and rarely give their children tools, or good reason, to attain them. Good grades and college are the goal rather than being self sufficient and prepared to have a variety of choices in the future. How to know a decent date is never expressed, just don’t get pregnant if a girl and don’t get in trouble if you’re a boy.  Think about the moms in Jazz in LoveDoes My Head Look Big in This or Good Enough.  

Single mom’s such as the one in He Forgot to Say Good-bye and Upstate are just too busy getting by to know how to mother. Moms as role models  are lacking in the current book I’m reading and the book could be so much better if the parents had a clearer voice. This, to me, is one of the problems with ALL YA being told in first person. The teen narrator doesn’t see the mother as one who can successfully prepare them for the world.

I know these weak or non-existent mothers are typical  of YA Lit in general, but why are there so few exceptions in POC books? I’ve always thought African American, Latinos, Asian Americans and Native Americans had much stronger family ties that European Americans, and that moms were a central part of the family.

POC moms I like in YA Lit? I can only think of the moms in Out of My Mind  by Sharon Draper and the Tia Lola series by Julia Alvarez which are both MG. I know there have to be others in YA! Maybe the mom in the NiNi Simone books?

A few things going on this week

  • The Diversity Tour began in San Francisco yesterday. Are they going to be near you? Are you going to get to hear this dynamic group of authors? They’re going to be in the midwest, but unfortunately it’s too late on a work night for me to drive up to Chicago. We’ll have to get the scoop from Reading in Color!
  • Shadra Strickland shared information with me about Literacyhead‘s new Youtube channel and lifetime membership offer in honor of their first birthday.  Literacyhead is a great organization that believes in the power of art and literature for our children. Jan Burkins, the executive director, is passionate about the work of artists and authors and is so diligent about using diverse picture books to support the classroom teaching experience.
  • Every Thursday, Yasmin Shiraz is hosting a radio show on the theme of Retaliation. Visit her FaceBook page to find out the topic for this Thursday, or to suggest a topic.
  • Guys Lit Wire is running a Book Fair in support of the Ballou Senior High School library in Washington D.C. As soon as this post is done, I’ll be making my donation! I’ll never, ever forget the kindness of those who donated to my school on behalf of Ari’s C.O.L.O.R. project and the only way I know to repay that kindness is to pass it on.
  • Look for something different this summer? How about joining Doret and Vasilly as the host an online reading of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson? I’ve had this wonderful book for quite a while and this will be a wonderful opportunity for me to get it read! The reading will begin on 1 June and will run throughout the month. Sign up on Vasilly’s blog if you’ll be joining the reading.
I’m wish you a colorful, wonderful week of reading!

7 thoughts on “SundayMorningReads

  1. I would love to get to the Diversity tour, but the closest they’ll be is 12 hours away, and gas prices are prohibiting spontaneous road trips.
    Thanks for the BookFair info, I found out about the one they had last year just after it ended, so am glad I still have some time this year.


  2. Thanks for including the read-along in your post.

    When I think of POC moms in middle-grade or YA titles, I think of the mom in One Crazy Summer who didn’t like being a mom. I also think of the parents in Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson who died in the house fire. There’s also the mom in Francisco X Stork’s Marcelo in the Real World who understands her autistic son but lets her overbearing husband has his way.


  3. The dearth of strong moms in YA is an artifice by editorial design–the protagonist must make her or his way alone, possibly for the first time ever. Real life relationships with moms are way more complex but if your fiction shows a teen at all dependent on a parent, editors will ask you to show the character having more “agency.” (At least in my experience anyway…)


  4. Interesting thoughts on mums in YA. I could only think of one to add to your list, the mother in ‘A la Carte’ by Tanita Davis. She works hard, but she’s very supportive of Laney (even though sometimes her support is more about ushering her daughter to be something she doesn’t feel she can be). Their relationship is complicated, but there’s a strength.


  5. @ bookgazing I read A La Carte Quite awhile ago, thanks for mentioning it!

    @Vicky ah, that great American sense of independence! We must nurture that. Wouldn’t it be nice if once and a while characters would grow in their relationship with their parents, from adult/child to adult/adult?


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