Sunday Morning Reads

I was supposed to go to the garden this morning, but it’s been raining off and on. If this were a different year, I would have worked there yesterday. Oh, the ebb and flow of life! I value knowing where my food comes from so, I know I won’t stop growing food (real food!!) any time soon, it’s just going to take a little longer to get excited about it this year.

I can feel the same blasé attitude toward reading because I don’t read for shear enjoyment any more. I read for professional knowledge, to write articles, write reviews or for an award committee and it’s all YA. It helps to find that beautiful gems now and then, but it really helps to read those books that truly relate to who I am. I laugh at people who talk about ‘adulting’, like it’s optional or pretend. I’m grown; I embrace it I deal with it and I’d love to read adult fiction. One of these days!!

I’m reading less social media these days. Ha! Maybe I’m ‘adulting’!! Seriously, I reduce my anxiety and I get more work done without all the attention given to all the little things we want to hype. I have been aware of the Wall Street Journals’ (WSJ) foray into kidlit and the follow up to that, and it leaves me scratching my head. This was actually the second article that I know of that WSJ has written about kidlit and I am trying to figure out why they’re delving into this arena. WJS is a daily business publication whose readers tend to be upper income business leaders and judging from the comments on the post, readers tend be closer to grand-parenting that parenting.

Is this article simply WSJs attempt to reach out to younger readers?

This particular article highlighted three white male librarians, portraying them as dominant forces in selecting children’s books. I’m going to mention several pieces that questions what is presented in the article and I’m going to add my voice to those writes in questioning what goes on behind the scenes connecting these men to WSJ. I posit it is this sort of access that these men have that denies marginalized people a place at the decision making table. I’m going to accept the premise that these men do indeed select what our children are reading and the rest of us are going through the motions. These men work for publishing companies, attend sessions to help pre-select what is and isn’t printed and themselves have books deals. Most of them work directly with children in their daily jobs and each of them has built web-based communities that impact thousands of teachers and students around the country. They work directly with publishers and they work directly with our children and if that doesn’t give you concern, it should.

I don’t know of any marginalized authors, bloggers or teachers who have a similar, massive network. If they existed, would they have been featured?

No doubt, this article helps endear the names of these men to business executives, decision makers and power brokers prior to the release of their books. Do you think that won’t matter when deciding who gets shelf space in WalMart or your local Barnes and Noble?

Education Week captures some of the conversation on Twitter, but failed to critically read the presence of privilege in other parts of the conversation.

I feel confident that the men in this article did not seek out this opportunity and I think they regret as much as I do the negative attention that it gets. There’s something behind this story that is about way more than librarians getting books to children and that “something” says more about the lack of diversity, of access, of colonization in children’s literature than the message we get about three white men representing a majority female occupation. Let’s look beyond representation in this article and consider access, privilege and responsibility.

Allie Jane Bruce gets into the glory these men are receiving along with all their other perks while women do the heavy lifting of advocating for readers, implementing critical librarianship strategies and suggest more responsible ways of managing the limelight. She questions their lack of responsibility in demanding a more accurate story.

The ugly upshot is what happens to librarians (and other field professionals) who do actually (and thoughtfully) criticize books, book creators, and/or publishers. Especially the women of color and Native women who dare criticize. They’re labeled as angry, combative, overly-sensitive, and generally unreasonable. Is it harder to get hired/published? Darn right it is. And perks? Fancy dinners? Forget it.

Donalyn Miller was originally interviewed for the article, but not included in the piece. Her reaction to the piece was treated like sour grapes from an angry women. Donalyn, perhaps you simply needed to have had a book contract or something to sell?

Unlike Library Journal’s Annoyed Librarian, I don’t think people are “mad” about this situation, but I think we’re trying to figure out what this is really all about. Their sister publication, School Library Journal seemed to catch the tone of the article, but shifted blame for misrepresentation of librarianship to “us” the colonized and who we select as leaders and who we invite to our schools.

 “How can we expect the world (or the Wall Street Journal) to see school libraries as places where diversity is honored and celebrated if we are not working to make them that way?”

A noteworthy effort if you’re responding to this article on a surface level. The responsibility for better representation can’t go to those who have little to no power!

Is this an article to ignore or is this a situation that demands a little more digging?

Maybe this was just meant to be a messy little piece that would provide more attention than it was work while getting those men’s names out there. They have book deals. And, they’ve gotten more attention. I think they may have Trumped us.

See, this is the stuff that drains my energy.