#LargeFears Twitter chats are the first Tuesday of each month. TheScreen Shot 2016-05-03 at 9.28.21 AMy’re called #LargeFears both in homage to Large Fears by Myles Johnson and Kendrick Daye and because we have so many large fears with regards to diversity. While some of us fear it will it never become a reality in children’s literature, others fear it will disrupt their tiny little world.

Tuesday 10 May, Angie Manfredi will be hosting a conversation about diversity and children’s book awards. The twitter chat will begin at 5pm MST, 7pm EST and last an hour. It promises to be quite engaging. Look for us with the hashtag #LargeFears.

Another Twitter chat that I recently attended was #whitewashedOUT, a conversation that developed from the growing misrepresentation of Asian Americans in Hollywood. I was a quiet voice there, in my listening/ally/retweeting mode while Asian Americans tweeted about many personal situations involving representation of their culture by themselves and others. These conversations are in public spaces to build alliances, uncover truths, assert positions and collectively demand change. This from BookRiot:

This white-washing problem is pervasive. It’s not just ScarJo, it’sAloha, it’s Gods of Egypt, it’s Noah, it’s The Social Network, it’s Cloud Atlas, it’s Dragon Ball Z, it’s Avatar: The Last Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 12.35.15 PMAirbender, it’s everywhere. This month, to kick off Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Nerds of Color has planned a concerted effort to come for Hollywood producers and casting agents and their white-washing called #whitewashedOUT. Every Tuesday in May, the campaign will run with a Twitter chat between Keith Chow (Founder/Editor of Nerds of Color) and Ellen Oh (President of We Need Diverse Books). I’ll be there and I hope you will be, too.

Kudos to #whitewashedOUT team members:

Keith Chow (@the_real_chow)

Sarah Park Dahlen (@readingspark)

Ellen Oh (@elloellenoh)

Amitha Knight (@amithaknight)

Sona Charaipotra (@sona_c)

Terry Hong (@SIBookDragon)

Preeti Chhibber (@runwithskizzers)

Ilene Wong Gregorio (@iwgregorio)

Aisha Saeed (@aishacs)

A real change has happened at Kirkus where reviewers now identify character’s race or ethnicity. Vicky Smith writes about the reaction to reading ‘white’ in review after review. I have to admit to not having read many Kirkus reviews in the past few months (this lady is busy!) but I think about how difficult it is for so many people (of all ethnicities) to say ‘white’ when describing white people, to asserting that white people also have racial identity and to not be uncomfortable in doing so. It’s not been an easy change, but it’s about time.

It hasn’t been universally popular. A commenter on the Reading While White blog expressed suspicion of the lens we were using when we asserted that the narrator of Louise Hawes’ The Language of Starsis “presumably white.” A number of publishers have contacted me privately in varying degrees of dismay and/or anger. One of my newest reviewers of color protested energetically, saying that unless race is a factor in the story, “there is no reason at all to mention race in a review.” And one of our readers expressed the concern that “a title may receive a sub-par review if it does not feature minority characters even if it is an exceptional book in all other aspects.” source 

Do watch for the June issue of VOYA which is devoted to diversity in YA literature and will contain linked online resources to support the print articles. As a sneak peak, here’s Debbie Reese’s list of favorite American Indian books. (Yes, I’ll have an article there.)

The ALA awards committees always take recommendations and the Arbuthnot Honor Lecture is no exception. The 2016 Lecture will be delivered by Pat Mora in Santa Barbara, California while the 2017 will be delivered by Jacqueline Woodson. Applications to host Woodson’s lecture will be accepted until 10 June 2016 while recommendations for the 2018 lecturer are accepted until 20 June 2016.

The May Hill Arbuthnot Lecture is an annual event featuring an author, critic, librarian, historian or teacher of children’s literature, of any country, who shall prepare a paper considered to be a significant contribution to the field of children’s literature.  This paper is delivered as a lecture each April, and is subsequently published in Children and Libraries, the journal of ALSC. source

Finals are going on here this week. Graduation will be this weekend and it will be very quiet in these parts next week. There will be no students here to celebrate Children’s Book Week, but hopefully you can find a spot, or make a spot, to celebrate in your state. Celebrate books for young people and the joy of reading!

 ALA election results are in and I wish heart-felt congratulations to all the winners, particularly Nina Lindsay VP/President elect of ALSC, Angie Manfredi, Sujei Lugo and Thaddeus Andracki elected to the Newbery Committee, Robin Fogle Kurz YALSA Board of Directors, Vanessa Irvin elected to the Margaret A. Edwards Committee and me!! elected to the Printz Committee.

Our voices can be heard when we vote, when we tweet, when we run for office and when we write. Speak up. Shout out. Question. Do it for yourself and better yet do it for our children. Become fearless.

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