In December 2016 I started an experiment. Every month, I would purchase a diverse book from Target. I didn’t have a timeframe for reading or reviewing them and there was no particular genre or age level.
Some were books I’d heard of or been anticipating, others were books I simply picked because they had a POC on the cover, the title was diverse, or the author was a POC. I did occasionally see a few books which I already owned, and didn’t rebuy those. While most were books I wouldn’t have picked outside of this challenge, I never chose a book that I thought I would dislike.
In my reviews, I also tagged books I’d previously bought at Target and other books I bought besides my monthly pick. Since there are only 5 from 2016, I’m going to include them in this wrap-up.
Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova. This was one of my favorite reads of 2016. We have since bought and read the sequel (also at Target) and loved it too.
Pedro: First Grade Hero by Fran Manushkin, Illustrated by Tammie Lyon. This was another favorite. However I did end up getting an earlier book which we didn’t enjoy as much. I will keep buying the Pedro books though.
Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, A Life in Balance by Simone Biles, with Michelle Burford. I’m a big Simone Biles fan and was thrilled with the foster/adoption representation.
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah. A completely random pick bought only because the cover was diverse, it turned out to be one of my favorite books of 2016.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. Bought prior to the Target Picks. It was okay.
Lion by Saroo Brierley with Larry Buttrose. I liked but didn’t love this random diverse-cover pick, however it was my most viewed post in 2017. By a lot.
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. The cover wasn’t diverse but I knew from the internet that the author was. So were the characters once I read it. At the time I read this, I wasn’t sure if I liked it. But now that I’ve gotten used to the one major issue, it feels like one I can recommend to people who enjoy romances.
I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David Catrow. Worst Target Pick so far – strongly not recommended.
I Got This: To Gold and Beyond by Lauren Hernandez. Good but very teen.
The Temporary Bride: A Memoir of Love and Food in Iran by Jennifer Klinec. I enjoyed this even though it was the stereotypical Westerner-discovers-the-Middle-East. Lots of food and I felt Klinec was honest even when it cast her in a negative light.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. This one I knew about before. Enjoyed.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. A book I intended not to purchase and felt iffy about when I read. But well-written.
We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio. Inclusive picture book companion to Wonder.
EllRay Jakes is Not a Chicken! (EllRay Jakes #1) by Sally Warner, illustrated by Jamie Harper. A total miss, not recommended.
The Answer, written by Rebecca Sugar, illustrated by Elle Michalka and Tiffany Ford. Adorable inclusive picture book.
- 17 total books read and reviewed
- 5 books in 2016
- 12 books in 2017
- 11 fiction
- 6 nonfiction
- All of the children’s books were fiction
- Adult/teen books were both
- 5 picture or board books
- 3 elementary or MG chapter books
- 4 YA/teen books
- 5 adult reads
How I Chose Them
- Was familiar with the book or author already – 8
- Completely random based on cover or title diversity – 8
- Book purchased before CBR – 1
How I Felt About Them
- Loved 4
- Liked 5
- Okay 4
- Disliked 2
- Hated 2
Some of these stats surprised me. I didn’t realize my random vs. familiar stats would be so even! I did a pretty good job of picking books. For half of the books being chosen just based off of the browsing info, I still enjoyed more books than I didn’t.
The fiction vs. nonfiction was also surprising until I realized all of the diverse children’s books were fiction. Target does sell children’s nonfiction, however it’s mostly animals and science. What they do have for history/biography is usually white.
All the diverse children’s nonfiction I’ve seen at Target:
- Biography of Sonia Sotomeyer
- YRE of Hidden Figures (we already owned)
- Girling Up by Miyam Bialik (a stretch but she’s Jewish which is a minority group)
- You Got This was shelved with the children’s books briefly
Generally speaking I feel like the adult nonfiction I’ve gotten has had the most books I steadily enjoyed, while the children’s fiction has been polarizing – either loved or hated. So I’ll take that into consideration with future purchases.
I’m definitely going to continue choosing, reading, and reviewing Target picks. With only 17 books, I don’t have enough information yet to draw more general conclusions. I do feel like it’s easier to find my Target Picks. Whether that’s Target actually increasing and promoting their diverse selections more or just my ability to locate them getting better, I’m not sure! For 2018 I would like to match this year’s numbers by purchasing and reviewing 12 books. I’ve actually already bought 5 during the final months of 2018, so this won’t be too much of a problem with my “read books I own” goal.