Today I welcome Katie from Book Love. She's a fantastic blogger that even I was just introduced to. If you want to find out about some fantastic MG books, you need to check out her blog! She's a teacher and school librarian, so she really knows her stuff!
In my first year as a teacher and librarian in Baltimore City, I quickly came to a realization: the faces peering out from the covers of my carefully assembled classroom library books had very little in common with the faces staring back at me from those rows of desks. Nope, the tweens and teens on those book covers were a whole lot more, well... white than the living breathing tweens and teens who sat before me.
And if there's one thing that all book lovers know, it is this: books have power. They have power to shape one's self image, and to shape perceptions of the world around us. So what kind of powerful message was I sending to my students if they couldn't find more than a small handful of literary characters who looked like them? Not a very positive one. And let's be honest, my and my students' experience is not unique. The US population is rapidly becoming more and more diverse, and Non-Hispanic Whites are the slowest growing ethnic group in the country. The MG and YA publishing world needs to catch up!
Writer Zetta Elliott shared on her blog that out of approximately 3,000 MG and YA releases last year, only around 60 were written by an African American author. That's 0.2%. And I have a hunch that the number published by writers of other minority ethnic groups is even lower. So clearly, that's an issue in the publishing industry. But really, what is published is a reflection of what sells. And I know that as a reader, teacher, librarian, and all around book pusher, I have a responsibility to read, and call attention to, more books written by and about people of color if I want to see more published.
Many readers already know about the utterly fabulous MG release The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis. But guess what? There are many more, outstanding MG novels, featuring people of color, out right now which also deserve some love and attention. Here are just a few highlights:
Something to Hold
by Katherine Schlick Noe
Kitty Schlick is the only girl living on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in Oregon who is not an American Indian. Over the course of her sixth grade year and the following summer, Kitty is forced to confront hateful stereotypes, her own insecurities, and one heck of a forest fire. Based loosely on the author's own experiences growing up, Something to Hold is a powerful story about friendship and facing one's fears.
The Whole Story of Half a Girl
by Veera Hiranandani
This is one I've already reviewed on Book Love, but I just had to give Sonia's story another shout out because I am a little obsessed with it. Sonia is half Indian, half Jewish, and struggling to figure out where she belongs. In this contemporary novel, our main character is one that almost any middle school girl could relate to - she is torn between the fashionable cheerleaders, and the less popular girl who shares more of Sonia's real interests. And on top of her identity crisis, Sonia is trying to cope with her father's depression, following the loss of his job. The Whole Story of Half a Girl is a must read.
Maximilian and the Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller
by Xavier Garza
Max's colorful cover first caught my eye when it won a 2012 Pura Belpre Honor. Told in both English and Spanish, this is a fun filled glimpse into the Mexican tradition of lucha libre - or professional wrestling. With the mystery twist and the addition of author Xavier Garza's comic style illustrations, Maximilian would be an easy sell to middle school boys - especially those with an affinity for WWE!
by Barbara Wright
Hoooooo boy, I just finished Crow last night and it completely blew me away. Moses is only 11-years-old when his family falls into the eye of a political storm in Wilmington, SC. Based on the true story of the only successful coup in America's history, Crowwas a bit of a slow starter for me, but I held my breath as I raced through the last 100 pages. It seems impossible that the events in this story actually happened, and I'm dying to discuss it with someone. Have you read Crow? Let's talk!
As a part of this celebration of multi-cultural MG novels, I'm giving away a copy of any of the titles listed above - winner's choice.
To be entered, just leave a comment with your own recommendation for a MG or YA novel written by or about a person of color, along with your email address. I'd love to hear your suggestions!
This giveaway will end Friday, March 23rd -
US entries only, please.