May 25, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Up for Debate: Diversity

While the population of U.S. children is increasingly non-white, the representation of diverse cultures in kids’ books has remained paltry, little changed over decades. Why the gap? And what can publishers, librarians, teachers, and parents do to change this?

Local Educators Lead Relief Efforts in Puerto Rico

A former school librarian in Puerto Rico returns home after Hurricane Maria to help—and to tell the stories of the local people who are helping students, libraries, and schools recover.

A Forest of Poems: Young People’s Poet Laureate Margarita Engle

Engle discusses her poems and books in verse, Cuba, and her first career as a botanist.

Debut Author Meredith Russo on Trans Teens in YA Lit and “If I Was Your Girl”

SLJ chats with debut author Meredith Russo about her first book for teens If I Was Your Girl, what librarians can do about North Carolina’s controversial HB2 law, and the ups and downs of being a published author.

“King & King”—and Teacher Who Read It—Under Fire in North Carolina

While King & King will be allowed in the school, it is not currently in the media center, says Omar Currie, a third-grade teacher in Efland, NC, who read the picture book to his class. Any book a teacher wishes to read to students or use in the classroom that is not in the school’s media center will need to be submitted to parents in advance, starting in the 2015-2016 school year, adds Curie, who says a personal grievance has been filed against him with the district.

Parents: Empower Kids to Tell Their Stories

Increasing diversity isn’t simply the responsibility of publishers. While they should make a conscious investment in seeking diverse voices, parents have a major role in nurturing children’s desire to tell their own stories.

We Need More Diverse Audio and Video Content

Today’s youth gravitate to YouTube, computers, and gadgets more than books. We need more diverse audio and visual material, so kids can listen and watch on their desktops and devices.

Diverse Books: Don’t Categorize as “Special Interest”

Diverse books shouldn’t be considered special interest or shelved in a separate area, yet they are by the majority of us. I challenge all parents, caretakers, and educators to take a hard look at themselves for internalized biases that may affect the way they look at children’s books.

Write Outside Your Comfort Zone

I admit it. I’ve said in confidence to more than one struggling African-American author: “You could always write about slavery or civil rights.” They all looked at me the same way I probably looked at the guy who told me to retreat in time and reach for a tomahawk.

How to Build a Bestseller with Non-White Characters

Creating a blockbuster with diverse characters requires years of commitment, collaboration, and buy-in from every segment of the publishing community.

Librarians Have Buying Power—Let’s Use It for Change

The $700 million spent by librarians annually is not just a drop in the bucket, and our collective spending power can be used to move the needle in the publishing landscape toward diverse authors, characters, and books. So what are we waiting for?