Newbery award winner and New York Times bestselling author

Posts tagged ‘Tim Tingle’

DIA events rule my world this week

image001-4Ah, breakfast at home.

I’m just back from Loudoun County Public Library in Northern Virginia, where I spoke at It’s All Write, their annual short story writing contest for teens.

With Bev and Wright Horton

With Bev and Wright Horton

It’s always amazing to me how many unexpected gifts are part of these visits. I got to see the work of young people coming up the ranks – always fun. This time around, too, I learned about how Loudoun has a book club for adults with developmental disabilities. (Guess what I’m interested in starting here in Richmond?) I met librarians who are secret playwrights and novelists. I met young people who want to study children’s book illustration. And, of course, I had the honor of meeting Bev and Wright Horton, a former teacher and a geologist, who are the long time benefactors of the program that touches hundreds and hundreds of kids in their area. They do so in honor of their late son, James, who loved writing. “James would have loved this contest,” Bev told me. Personal loss redirected into something positive for a community confirmed for me AGAIN that the literary arts – the stories of all of us – are a powerful force for connection and healing.

So for all of that, thank you (camera-shy)Linda Holtslander for the invitation to Loudoun County and for the chance to spend time with the amazing people at Park View HS, Tuscarora HS, and the Rust Library.

Writing at Palm View HS!

Writing at Park View HS!

My Cuban friend - Ms. Maria Clemens.

My Cuban friend – Ms. Maria Clemens.

I don’t have too much time to savor the downtime, but it’s for a good cause. This week marks DIA (April 30) – now known as Diversity in Action, so the next few days are all about inclusive literature for me. Check out my guest post as part of the DIA blog hop, organized by Latinas for Latino Lit. All week, Latino children’s book writers will explore the theme of immersion. I got matched with atypical familia, a blog about family, culture, and disabilities. I’m a guest there today talking about language, family connection, and how that looked in my own family.

DIA UPDATED INVITE copyAt the risk of driving you crazy, here’s a reminder:  If you’re in the DC area, don’t forget that you can join me at a free symposium at the Library of Congress Young Reader’s Center. Kwame Alexander, Ellen Oh, Tim Tingle, Gigi Amateau and moderator Deb Taylor. (That’s a lot of good thinking in one room, if you ask me.) We’ll be looking at teen books and representations of family through various cultural lenses.  I like that Karen Jaffe, the head of the YRC, targeted teens in this DIA event. Typically teens get the short straw for these celebrations. They’re asked to help with the crafts for younger kids, for example. This program addresses their literature and lives directly. I’m also grateful that the panel includes authors from many vantage points talking on a universal topic, rather than strictly about diversity. In coming years, I hope we’ll see events like this repeated with more and more underrepresented voices at the table talking about all sorts of topics within the world of books and young people. Diversity means everybody and six people can’t represent every voice.

ci_logowtagFinally, I’ll wrap up  the week by driving up the road to Frederick, Maryland where  The Curious Iguana has organized a teen and diverse lit event on May 1. Look for me with my pals from We Need Diverse Books.

Ok – time to unpack, do laundry, and head out again.

Cariños de,


What’s Going On in Multi Culti Lit: The librarians speak

What’s going on in multicultural lit?  This month, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) at the University of Wisconsin is opening a discussion by posting its latest data on diverse literature – and by reading two novels involving Native American culture:  How I Became a Ghost (Tingle) and If I Ever Get Out of Here (Gansworth).

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To whet your appetite, here are their latest statistics:

“We received approximately 3,200 books at the CCBC in 2013. Of those,

.*93*books had significant African or African American content
.*67*books were by Black authors and/or illustrators
.*33 *books had American Indian themes, topics, or characters
.*18*books were by American Indian authors and/or illustrators
.*58 *books had significant Asian/Pacific or Asian/Pacific American content
.*85*books were by authors and/or illustrators of Asian/Pacific heritage
.*57 *books had significant Latino content
.*48 *books were by Latino authors and/or illustrators”

It’s always fascinating to hear librarians talk about the challenges of building a collection that reflects our country. Are we doing enough to find and develop new voices? Are the indie publishers doing a better job than the big houses in this area? Are we still stuck – whether consciously or not – in the mindset that certain cultural groups don’t read?

One comment in the thread gave me long pause. Is the Pura Belpré a “marginalized” prize? To me, it’s the biggest honor in the world, but just take a look at how Amazon listed the children’s book winners the day after the Youth Media Awards were announced. 

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Hmmm…what’s missing on this enticing spread? Oh yeah, the Coretta Scott King Award and the Pura Belpré (and the Stonewall and….oh, don’t get me started.) Interesting omission, considering that Latinos, at least, are projected to make up a third of our country’s population by 2050.

Clearly, there is a lot of work to do and there are a lot of hard questions to ask, starting with SERIOUSLY?

You can get digest versions of the CCBC discussion or join in by going here. I’ll be posting soon enough, but for now, I’m enjoying eavesdropping on the conversation and thinking about what it will mean as I travel this year to meet readers, teachers, librarians, and families all over the place. 

Meanwhile, just to make myself feel better, I’m going to sit back and watch my favorite Super Bowl moment (well, a close tie to Bruno Mars, anyway). Here’s Coke’s commercial that celebrated our nation’s diversity. If only it were all so seamless and beautiful…