Diversity in YA Lit: Where’s the ‘Mexican Katniss’? – CNN.com

“I’m not this tragic figure from the past,” said Gansworth, author of “If I Ever Get Out of Here,” said.

via Diversity in young adult literature: Where’s the ‘Mexican Katniss’? – CNN.com.

This is so important. So many stories featuring ethnic characters paint them in the light of the past and don’t act as if people of color live in the present.

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#colormyshelf

There’s a twitter trend going around today called #colormyshelf and it’s totally overwhelming me with books I want to read! I have the tab open and will probably have it open for days until I get to full investigate some of the names mentioned. But here’s a link to check it out: #colormyshelf. Lots of titles with children form diverse backgrounds in different types of children’s literature. I love that this is going around! 

African American speculative fiction for kids | Fledgling

African American speculative fiction for kids | Fledgling.

I am currently reading The Golden Hour and have Zetta Elliot’s A Wish Before Midnight checked out from the library. I made it about halfway through Book of Wonders (it’s not bad, just something about it isn’t holding me the way The Golden Hour is). This is a great go to list when looking for new MG/YA SFF books to read.

Click through to check them out!

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Adults Can Enjoy Picture Books as Much as Children Do | WritersDigest.com

Adults Can Enjoy Picture Books as Much as Children Do | WritersDigest.com

There are reasons adults can enjoy children’s literature: compelling stories, great narrative and action, exercises in dialogue–all the reasons an adult can enjoy an adult novel. I don’t, however, read too many picture books. I may take a look at one in a bookstore, but for the most part, I don’t read them. This article shows us to, as my blog theme suggests, put away the fear of reading picture books; there are ways an adult can enjoy them too.

The most compelling argument made in the article is the artwork. I’ve posted about my experience at the Gotham Writers Workshop children’s book writing class and part of what we discussed was picture books and the way they are made. The publishers hire writers but their bigger focus is on the illustrators–much like Hollywood hires and pays writers, but the bigger credit goes to actors and/or directors for bringing it to life. The illustrator works really hard in presenting the idea for a children’s book and it has to look different from the other books it might sit near on the shelf. It’s really fascinating and, I imagine, hard work.

Some picture books have museum worthy (or at least classic art inspired) pages. Swirling action and cute characters and realistic animal characters, you name it, it’s in a picture book, and it’s really under appreciated.

So let’s look at some picture books and ignore the toddler giving you side eye about it in Barnes and Noble (or keep it a secret and download them to your tablet…)

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Children’s Book Writing One Day Intensive

I took a one day intensive on Children’s Book Writing taught by Michael Leviton and it was a great! I learned about children’s books and got some delicious hot chocolate.

20140124_114409It was fun seeing how some aspects of writing children’s books remind me of screenwriting. Obviously storytelling in general follows similar patterns of introductions, inciting incidents, rising and falling actions, a climax, and a conclusion, but children’s books–specifically picture books–have some similarities with dramatic writing.

Read more at our Gotham Writers Intern blog: Children’s Book Writing One Day Intensive.

Taking the class, and seeing others interested in writing children’s books, kind of led up to me deciding to write this blog. Taking the class, loving my favorite books as a kid, and trying to decide what kinds of writing I want to do are all reasons why this blog exists and why I hope to continue keeping it up, despite having a million and one other things to do. If you have an opportunity to take Gotham Writers Workshop classes, do it. They have online classes too!

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8 Racist Children’s Books via Atlantic BlackStar | The Place Children’s Lit Can Take in Shaping Young Opinions

8 Disturbingly Racist Children’s Books Designed to Devalue Black People – Atlanta Black Star.

Hmm, fitting that on the last day of Black History Month, I come across this post of old, racist children’s books that perpetuate hate and stereotypes. My jaw dropped as I looked at these books, but it’s really eye-opening in terms of really looking at our children’s books as media messages. I’m sure (I hope? Unfortunately I can’t say with any accuracy, with the way things have been going in recent media) that these books are, if not burned, tucked away in some vaults where no children can find them. Interestingly enough, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is on this list, a book fraught with controversy in terms of its language regarding black people during slavery–it’s been argued back and forth.

The existence of these books proves our need for the very opposite. These books were meant to teach and inform white children of the “traits” of black people. Now we need books that promote and edify the culture of black people and other cultures. Children reading more and more positive portrayals shows them new worlds, opinions, and points of view. But often in school, as I’ve written in another post, there’s only one book per year that focuses on black literature and culture. We’re lucky if we get other perspectives than that.

Children’s literature does even more of a job of shaping and forming opinions than adult literature does, so we need to be careful what’s being explicitly and implicitly brought forth in their books. If children’s lit showcased more cultures, they will experience more world’s different from their own and be able to connect to people who are different from them both as children and as they grow into adults.

Related:

Children’s Books That Nurture Healthy Self-Esteem in Black Toddlers

Black Children’s Books: Our Favorite Stories For African American Youngsters

Words Have Power {Book Display}

Positive Images of Black Children and Families in Children’s Lit