We Are The People: Tad Andracki

Tad Andracki has worked with We The People for two years now. He finds books by authors of color that most of us seem to have missed and he’s truly understands social justice as he’s able to apply it so well to his reading. Tad works as a middle school librarian, serves on the Newbery Award Committee and manages to sometimes have time to blog and maintain a presence on Twitter. I love this insight into Tad from his blog where he tells us he’s also interested in “running, baking, coffee, whimsy, plants, shiny things, affect theory, activism, and love as a hermeneutic of social change.”

What inspired your passion for children’s lit?
To be honest, I just never stopped reading it. Even after I’d moved on to more YA
and adult literature, I always went hunting to find out what won the Newbery or what an old favorite author’s newest book was. I credit some of the passionate image1teachers and librarians I came across growing up with introducing me to some of the finest works of children’s literature—books like The Giver or Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry—and taking those books and my thoughts on them seriously.

My passion for diversity and criticism in children’s lit has a more direct inspiration. Taking Debbie Reese’s class on the Politics of Children’s Literature while a drifting undergrad had a huge impact on my life. Her fierce dedication to her work helped take my aimless desire for social justice and find ways to apply it to something I already cared a lot about—children’s lit—in a more direct way. I have to credit her greatness—and her kind fostering of my own critical spark—in making me the reader and librarian I am today.

What new books have you discovered and enjoyed while working on WTP?
Pretty much everything! Some highlights have been finally reading books that I’d known about for ages but simply hadn’t gotten to yet, like Kampung Boy by Lat or Yummy by Greg Neri. I also really enjoyed keeping my eye out for new, offbeat things, like Na’amen Gobert Tilahun’s great debut, The Root.

How would you describe the We The People Summer Reading list to someone who’s not familiar with it?
It’s a reading list for every child. We the People focuses on finding great books by people of color or from First/Native nations. The folks who work to put together this list are really dedicated not only to making sure that we are not only highlighting books about people of color, but that young people reading these books can see their creators as people who have lived experiences like the characters—and like the young people reading them, too. We’re trying to amplify those voices.

When you’re reading for enjoyment, are you most likely to be sitting up or lying down?
A little of both, but more likely sitting up–I’m a leg-curler-underer. Though I can tell I’m really getting into a book when I have to get up and start pacing around the apartment while reading it!

What have you found most challenging in putting together the WTP list?
Finding the time to do all of the reading. As a working librarian, I’m constantly reading to support curriculum and to promote our state readers’ choice award… and those books overlap less frequently with the goals of this list than I’d like. But I love when reading for WTP helps me find a great new book to sneak into my next booktalk!