Decolonizing the Imagination

I learned early on that only white children had wonderful adventures in distant lands; only white children were magically transported through time and space; only white children found the buried key that unlocked their own private Eden.

–Zetta Elliot

via Decolonizing the Imagination.


Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors

When there are enough books available that can act as both mirrors and windows for all our children, they will see that we can celebrate both our differences and our similarities, because together they are what make us all human.

Rudine Sims Bishop

via Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors

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

“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’? –

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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The Studio Museum in Harlem

Yesterday, I got to hang out at the Studio Museum in Harlem for a bit. I didn’t get to look at the new exhibit (I had to rush out to head to work), but I did get a peek at the books in their Museum Store, and I totally need to read them!


wpid-20140410_155939.jpgI love fairy tales, so I need to read Rapunzel, with that long beautiful braided hair of hers. Neighborhood Mother Goose looks interesting for similar fairy tale-esque reasons. Anansi the Spider is probably the most well known African myth (for as little as Americans, myself included, know about different African folklore and myth tales). But really, I just want to read them all and I want to see more books like this in mainstream bookstores. Where’s the shelf for these books, Barnes and Noble (outside of Black History Month)?

I just started volunteering at the Studio Museum, hopefully I get to do more things there. The employees seem really fun and cool, and most of the people who walked in the building yesterday were ridiculously stylish. I can’t stop thinking about this woman’s flowered skirt with pockets (!!) and contrasted teal tulle underneath that you can’t buy anywhere because she had her friend make it for her. But that’s off the point of the post and the blog in general. I can’t wait to go back and I hope I can read (and afford to buy) some of those books.

Here are some pictures from their quarterly magazine:


Books for Kids

Activity examples for educators and parents

Activity examples for educators and parents

Reading is, of course, very important to nurture as a child, but so is art. They often go hand in hand. Kids will often want to create art based on books they’ve read and characters they love. More diverse children’s books creates more diverse art. We need more of that in the world.

Visit the Studio Museum in Harlem, on 125th Street between Lenox and Adam Clayton Powell Jr Ave (7th Avenue for any locals). $7 Suggested Admission for Adults, $3 for Students and Seniors, Free for children under 12. 


Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors

When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part.

–Rudine Sims Bishop

via Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors.

Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors

Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.

–Rudine Sims Bishop

via Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors.

Diversity 101: The Multiracial Experience | CBC Diversity

Similarly, Karen Katz’s young protagonist gets ready to paint her friends, and focuses on color: “I think about all the wonderful colors I will make and I say their names out loud. Cinnamon, chocolate, and honey. Coffee, toffee, and butterscotch. They sound so delicious.”

–The Colors of Us by Karen Katz

via Diversity 101: The Multiracial Experience | CBC Diversity.

I love this. I am trying to piece together my thoughts on being a young reader and defaulting the characters in my head to white, but in reading more books with characters of color in my adulthood, I am loving finding new ways writers are able to describe characters with darker skin. Usually characters are “fair” or “pale” or “creamy” when reading white characters, but it can be more fun to think of ways to describe darker skin tones.

It’s often a joke (that treads a fine line) to figure out what shade I am. I’m not really brown, I’m one of the lightest non-mixed black people I know. I’ve recently turned to “honey” as the color of my skin tone, but I’ve gone with “peanut”/”peanut butter” in the past. Somewhere around there. Introducing characters of color to books can add more flavor to your descriptions (or illustrations if you handle it correctly in a children’s picture book).