These cold, snowy, dark days are forcing me to slow down, re-assess and consider a new plan for a new year. We’re almost two weeks into the new year and two decades into the 21st century. How is my world and my world perspective changing?
Twenty years ago, I was a brown haired, struggling single mother. I was teaching World Geography and US History to high schoolers in Indiana. I was teaching more inclusive geographies and histories in a predominantly African American school, but hadn’t yet considered social justice, equity, information literacy or critical race theory. I was often using literature to reinforce concepts.
Twenty years from now I hope to still be waking up on my own accord free of aches, pains and a clock to punch. (I’ll be 80, godwilling!) I hope to have access to technologies ranging from print books to whatever the latest devices may be and to be literate in their use. I hope to have published a few books, have visited another continent and close proximity to my children and grandchildren. And I hope to have Indiana far, far behind me.
I’ll get there if I’m intentional year by year. In 2018, I’ll improve my plan to eat to live rather than living to eat, I’ll move my body more, pay better attention and affirm my blessings. I intend to laugh and learn more while spending and talkin less. Listening more. I hope to have several unexpected opportunities this year that I great with joy and that I’m prepared for and even some that I’ve created. And, I pray to exit the year with more friends and family than I entered. And, I hope to read and share the best books by IPOC authors written. LOL I suppose this is my vision post.
I have to get through some of the sludge, too. I will to continue to do that with integrity.
I didn’t keep a well organized list of 2017 releases, so I’m not certain how many books were released by I/AOC (Indigenous and Authors of Color). My best numbers come from 2016 and I’m seeing quadrupled numbers of books in two year’s time. As always, I cull publisher’s catalogs, Books in Print/Bowkers, online vendors and GoodReads to find titles. I also find quite a few on Twitter than don’t appear in other places. I’ve published a list of releases through April and am working on titles for the rest of the year as well. I continually update the list. These numbers are a good start in the move to decolonize youth literature.
I’m still light on writing reviews and will be until March after my Printz work is done. I have several 2018 ARCS I’m looking forward to reading, so please be patient with me. And now, Sibert work begins and although I’ve received gorgeous 2018 picture books in the mail, I can’t review them. What I am doing is lining up author interviews with plans to target debut authors. There are quite a few of them this year, far more than I’ve seen in years past. Many are establish writers in other fields, setting the expectation for high quality books for young readers. The vast majority are able bodied, cishet Asian American females.
As the numbers of books by marginalized writers increases, so does the need to be able to review and critique them. There’s little merit in presenting reviewers and award committees with #ownvoices books or with stories with diverse representation and not tooling them with adequate analytical skills. Diverse representation requires us to consider how well individuals and their cultures are represented throughout literature (in text as well as in images), not only in terms of race but economics, religion, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, weight and country of origin. In this way, youth literature provides us with the opportunity to an analyze power structures (politics), biases and stereotypes (fake news) and the windows and mirrors through which we see our world.
Consider how Beverly Slapin uses her skills to critically review Stella Diaz Has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez (Roaring Brook Press).
Know that corporations such as WalMart and Barnes and Nobles request such changes to books all the time for the sake of sales. Not for the sake of equity or justice, but for profit.
Angie Manfredi, Talya Sokoll, Jessicak Yurko, Rachel Moir Alli Goffman and a team of colleagues used their library skills to obtain a Carnegie/Whitney Grant from the American Library Association and create, Queer Books for Teens, a rich resource that includes a searchable database for queer teen books. Librarians work with teens and know what they want and they deliver with this resource. No doubt, my favs are the lists of books with Black characters created by Sierre Elmore and the list with Latinx characters created by Dr. Sonia Rodriguez, both representing sorely needed items.
Dhonielle Clayton uses her skills when she works a writer and as a sensitivity reader. While sensitivity readers provide similar services pertaining to race, sexual orientation or abilities that beta or proofreaders have done for decades for scientific or historic details, they’re attacked for…?? For speaking out? For asserting their privilege?
Dhonielle Clayton uses her skills when she works as a sensitivity reader to do what editors aren’t doing.
Jacqueline Woodson uses her skills to write for our children. She uses them so well that she’s been selected to be the 2018 National Ambassador for Children’s Literature. Her platform is “Reading = Hope x Change (What’s Your Equation?)”.
2018 will find me using my skills and working as part of ALA’s Truth Racial Healing and Transformation Team. The program, funded by the Kellogg Foundation, uses the works of numerous scholars, activists and researchers, but the scholars we’ll work most directly with are Dr. Maria Sachiko Cecire and Dr. Susana M. Morris, individuals with whom I’m quite excited to connect. Grant applications are now available to bring Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Great Stories Club to your library. Deadline: 16 February 2018.
I’m continuing to work with Sujei Lugo, Dr. Sonia Rodriguez, Dr. Laura Jimenez, Lyn Miller-Lachmann and Tad Andracki to get the next We’re The People Summer Reading List out this spring.
I love being a librarian because of all the growth opportunities it provides me. I’m trying looking forward to 2018 (and beyond!!) and all the possibilities that come to and through me.
Happy, joyful 2018 to you! I hope the year exceed all your expectations.