Maybe you just want a short read for the weekend. Maybe you’re looking for a read-aloud for your family, something to read alongside a child, or a book for your students that might hold your interest too. Here are five fiction and five nonfiction middle grade books that can hold the interest of an older reader – whether a teen who needs a less challenging read, adult who wants to finish a book quickly, or a family wanting to read together. Continue reading “Middle-Grade Reads for Adults”
Last year my goals were too many and too complicated. At the beginning of this year I chose 11 goals (many tweaked versions of last year’s) between blogging, reading, and book habits. This is my check-in/tweaking mid-year post. Continue reading “My 2019 Bookish Goals Mid-Year Update”
Trying to decide the next course of action for my board book review series.
Way back in early 2017 (actually end of 2016 but the first post went up in 2017), I started reviewing diverse board books. We had little kids again, and with my newfound passion for diverse literature, I wanted to build a collection that was diverse from the very beginning and do better by our youngest children.
My first priority was books with black children or African-American authors, but it was also important to me that our board books represented the world around us, so pretty soon I was collecting more books so that other groups were represented as well. Our daily life does not, to my knowledge, include Native Americans, so I wanted to be sure to represent #ownvoices indigenous board books. A few people have also given us diverse books (either from our wish list or just because they’re awesome).
I also wanted to include both fiction and nonfiction, and have been surprised and very pleased with the amount of diverse nonfiction I was able to find.
Over the course of Colorful Book Reviews, I’ve reviewed almost 200 books, ranging from board books to academic works. I’ve also learned a LOT from you, the diverse book blogging community, reviewers, authors, publishers, readers, parents, teachers, and children.
Sometimes what I learn is that I got it wrong. Usually when that happens I go back to my review post and add in a note that it’s been edited and what my opinion is now and maybe why it’s changed.
Whether a different edition shows me something about the book to like (or dislike as the case may be) or another person points out a problematic aspect that I’d missed, it’s usually an easy fix to the blog’s content. However in this case my views on an entire subject have changed.
At one point I did not like books which used strong language for elementary school children. The more I’ve read and listened to people talk about this issue, the more my views have changed. The tipping point was reading this interview with Mildred Taylor.
I still have not worked out how to handle some words in a diverse classroom setting, but that is no longer such a concern as my career is taking a different path these days. At home, I’ve realized that softening the words and events of the past is part of the problem.
While we do soften or avoid some topics with young or particularly sensitive children, downplaying the Holocaust, lynchings, or apartheid stops us learning from those horrible events and working to prevent them. This can be done on a developmentally appropriate level, although it does take a bit more effort and education as a parent and teacher.
I will continue to mention instances of slurs or especially swears as I notice them in books, so that parents or teachers can make their own informed choices. However for historical fiction and nonfiction, that will no longer impact my overall opinion the same way.
Thanks for listening,
Found an article by librarian and author Vaunda Micheux Nelson, detailing how influential the book Bright April was for her. She also talks about the process of weeding (where minority books might be lost if a circulation-based weeding policy is followed) and how important it is to keep reading and promoting backlist diverse books. All important points that we agree with here at CBR! Nikki Grimes has a similar point in this older post about celebrity authors who overlook the backlist of diverse books (and she gives a great list of authors).
It’s an older article, but Wheelchair Users in Fiction: Examining the Single Narrative is sadly still very relevant.
Finally, via Reading in Winter, this article by one of the authors about the gender breakdown of Canada Reads winners.
What articles have you read lately?
When problematic information about an author comes to your attention…
So… I’ve read, enjoyed, and highly recommended one Sherman Alexie novel. As you can see on my 100 Indigenous Books challenge page, I’ve purchased two others, one of which I’ve since read (my page needs some updating) and the other I DNF’d but was attempting to re-read. That’s two reviews that would have gone up later this year.
I’ve been a bit behind on reading blogs so I was very grateful this issue was highlighted on BookToss. If you want more info, AICL has an exhaustive list of the best articles and commentary about the topic. If you are looking for alternative books to read, both have lists (note especially these two), or you can check out my reviews.
However, this all leaves me with a bit of a dilemma. While I don’t plan to buy any more Alexie books, I have a review and a half to go up, and one already up. When this post goes live, I intend to edit my previous review with a link and comment about this new development and how it’s changed my opinion of Alexie. But what about the other books? I have a review ready, and another book that wasn’t going to get a very favorable review anyway. It takes a lot of time and effort to read and review books, but I don’t want to promote a problematic author either! Right now I’m leaning towards just giving up on those two reviews, but I’m curious what others think.
What would you do when an author you have scheduled reviews for turns out to be problematic?