May 26, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

#OwnVoices Books: Three Takes

Three perspectives on #OwnVoices—from a school librarian, a materials specialist at a large urban library, and a professor of education

In September 2015, Corrine Duyvis, a sci-fi/fantasy author and editor and cofounder of Disability in Kidlit, first floated the #OwnVoices tag in a tweet, suggesting it as a shorthand way to “recommend kidlit about diverse characters written by authors from that same diverse group.”  The hashtag quickly caught on, and it has evolved from a Twitter tag to a movement championing the importance of reading books written by members of the marginalized community that they depict. SLJ sought three perspectives on #OwnVoices. Here’s what they say. 

Elisa Gall
Conversations in the Classroom

Elisa Gall, director of library services at a Chicago independent school

My third graders were examining the Coretta Scott King Award criteria—which states that eligible books must be written or illustrated by a person who is African American. A few declared, “That isn’t fair!” I took a breath and considered the children in the space and the mix of their identities….”
Ebony Thomas
Imagine Yourself a Young Reader in the Margins

Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, assistant professor, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

Imagine yourself a young reader in the margins….When you are young, your mind, heart, and imagination are searching for all the mirrors, windows, and doors into experiences that you can find….”
Christine Scheper
Collection Development: Reflecting Our Communities

Christine Scheper, children’s materials specialist, Queens (NY) Library

While #OwnVoices books must find homes in our collections, this is sometimes easier said than done. More #OwnVoices titles are available through mainstream publishers, but a lot are not created through traditional channels….”