I became interested in this after talking with Naz about how seldom people of color are represented in works about disability, particularly fiction. I’ve been an avid reader all my life. People constantly give me books, and I’m always buying more or making great finds on the free shelf at the library. Besides the thousands of books my family owns, we always have at least a dozen library books checked out from various places (usually closer to a hundred…). For at least the past decade, I’ve had an interest in reading books with disabled characters. How could I never have read a book with diverse disabled characters?
I think the last time I pre-ordered a book was in my Harry Potter days. Not that I don’t get excited about books, and wait eagerly for certain new releases. However, I don’t like to plunk my money down for something that doesn’t exist yet. It’s the same reason I’ve never invested in a Kickstarter, although there are some I’ve followed closely and bought products from when they were released.
This year I’m going a little wild with book buying, and this week I pre-ordered a book, nope, two books!
The first one you’ve probably heard of because it’s been generating a lot of buzz in the blogosphere: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. This is an #ownvoice light romantic YA about an arranged marriage. It’s told with two narrators, which I’m a little leery of, and it’s a YA romance, which is not my favorite genre. But… I read the first three chapters and sort of loved it. And the cover is amazing:
And as we all know, I’m easily moved by gorgeous covers. (Remember how I almost bought Everything, Everything even though I knew it was very problematic?) The henna, the modern clothes with traditional coloring, the title written on a drink cup… I probably shouldn’t have bought this in hardcover, but I’m a sucker. Hopefully it lives up to the beginning.
The reason I started pre-ordering is because I was going on a bit of a book-buying spree. Okay, a somewhat irresponsible one. As I was browsing around, I stumbled across a book I had to get! This was perfect because I’d been thinking -here I am blowing my whole book budget on things that I’ll read quickly, review slowly, and then not be able to buy anything for quite a while.
Enter Chasing Space: An Astronaut’s Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances by Leland Melvin. I’ve been on quite a space kick lately, although you wouldn’t know it from the blog because other than Hidden Figures and a Mae Jemison book, all of the books have been very white.
Leland Melvin was in the NFL until an injury led him to seek a new career. He started training for NASA but went deaf during the process. After he recovered partial hearing, he was allowed to go into space. The synopsis doesn’t even go into some of his other accomplishments because he’s already in an elite category of one!
This story ticks all the boxes. STEM PoC role model, check. Deafness and diversity, check. Space, check. Sports (not a box for me but certainly for others), check. It was a must-buy! Although I’ll certainly be looking out for instances of audism and looking at how his hearing “loss” and cure are treated, this is definitely the most interesting book release I’ve seen so far this year.
What books have you pre-ordered? Are there any new releases you’re eagerly anticipating this year?
Have you heard of Zero Discrimination Day?
It began as a program promoting healthcare access for people with HIV worldwide.
I had never heard of this until a friend shared it with me yesterday, and with today being Website Wednesday, it was the perfect time to share this information with all of you!
My favorite article is this one from UpWorthy with 19 big and small things you can do for Zero Discrimination Day. They have a list of recommended children’s books, signs, and information on simple ways to help people being harassed and stand up for diversity.
A new website that I in particular found very helpful and interesting was Opportunities for White People in the Fight for Racial Justice. It lists a lot of different ways to advocate for change at various levels and in different areas of our lives.
Of course, one way that bibliophiles can help is by reading diversely, promoting diverse books, and putting our book money towards new diverse books (this is the goal with my Target Picks).
While diversity and discrimination prevention should never be limited to one day a year, I also love days like this that give us opportunities to share resources and reach out to those who might not otherwise be thinking about diversity.
This year for Zero Discrimination Day, my family will be reading books from cultures we’re not very familiar with yet and reflecting on how we can be more inclusive of others this week.
Have you ever heard of Zero Discrimination Day before? Do you plan to celebrate?
I’d love to hear how your day goes!
This week I have a very important post to share – written by a teacher who happens to be Asian American.
Having Diverse Books Isn’t Enough by Katharine Hale
Katherine shares about her book buying experience at a teacher’s conference, and reviews the book she bought.
Be sure to read all the way to the end for a well-thought out book review and a twist to the book-buying story. The comments also have some interesting points, which leads me to our next link:
I first came across this ages ago and was happy to find it linked in the comments of the first article, because this is such a great reference. This line in particular jumped out at me: “In friendships between white and non-white children, is it the child of color who does most of the understanding and forgiving?” because that is a subtle indication of bias that I have overlooked in the past.
Picture books, chapter books, independent reading or read-aloud books. Are there any diverse early chapter books you can recommend?
For those of you who aren’t currently teaching or parenting an elementary school student, you might not realize how complicated the different types of elementary school books are.