Congratulations to Naomi Shihab Nye who was recently name the U.S. Young People’s Poet Laureate.!
Debbie Reese recently called attention to the International Literacy Association’s (ILA) Choices reading list. She blogged about the problem and also tweeted about it. The blog post describes the list by stating “Our newly released 2019 ILA Choices reading lists reflect a variety of quality, diverse titles; these lists are the perfect place to begin creating a culturally sustaining library that will provide mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors (thanks to Rudine Sims Bishop for that metaphor) for all readers.”
Debbie was rightfully disappointed in the lack of Native American representation on the lists (they’re created for 3 different age groups). She found NOT ONE book written by a Native American author on the list, but one known to have problematic representation.
A cursory view of the list reveals a minimal number of #ownvoices books, whether by people of color or LGBT authors or those with disabilities. Remember, there are NONE by Native/Indigenous writers. I believe someone is doing a tabulation of the representation on the list and if so, I’ll provide a link to that information when it’s available.
ILA responded to Debbie in a Tweet, stating “Project participants read and vote on hundreds of titles that publishers submit across the three Choices projects. Titles selected to the list are determined solely by reader networks and are not influenced by ILA or the publisher.”
They’re blaming the children for these poor selections and absolving themselves. Not so fast, ILA! I know what those boxes of publisher provided boxes look like and I know how they will use those boxes to promote the A List authors. Did no one notice how lacking in diversity the materials were that you were sent? Was any effort made to request additional books?
And what about the children? How diverse were they? Were they rural and urban? Black, white and brown? LGBTQIA? Did they have disabilities? Were they students who express a strong interest in reading books as well as those who don’t?
Book lists can be difficult ecosystems to navigate. When they’re created to represent an organization, they carry a heavy burden of responsibility. ILA, you need to re-think the list as well as the process.
I wouldn’t have seen the list if Debbie Reese hadn’t pointed it out. I’m so thankful to her attentiveness to what goes on in youth literature and her courage in persistently calling out the ways IPOC children are left out.
A listing well worth your time is #31Daysof IBPOC where Kim Parker (@TchKimPossible) and Tricia Ebarvia have gathered Indigenous educators and educators of color to tell stories as part of a community that defines our presence in the field of education. Not only is it meant that we will increase our visibility, but that we will add visibility to our perpetual work for excellence and equity. The writings can be found here.