My Evolving Thoughts

Dear readers,

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,

CBR

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Board Book Review: Shades of Black

Our 31st board book is a beautiful exploration of the many types of Black skin, hair, and eyes.

Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children by Sandra L. Pinkney, photographs by Myles C. Pinkney.
Cartwheel Books, Scholastic, 2006 (originally published as a picture book in 2000).
Nonfictional picture book converted to board book format, 24 pages.

This book that validates the appearance of ALL black children, whether they have dark or light skin and blue or onyx eyes.

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Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children by Sandra L. Pinkney and Myles C. Pinkney.

The catch phrase here is “I am Black.  I am unique.”  These words open and close the book and separate the various sections.

Continue reading “Board Book Review: Shades of Black”

15 If You Like That, Then Try This Recommendations

Have you ever seen those displays at libraries or bookstores that get you to try a new book you’ve never heard of by comparing it to a popular book you really like?

I am a sucker for those and always buy something from them.  This is my attempt to do that, but suggesting a diverse literature choice instead.

The suggestions range from infant to adult! Continue reading “15 If You Like That, Then Try This Recommendations”

Web: Zero Discrimination Day

Have you heard of Zero Discrimination Day?

It began as a program promoting healthcare access for people with HIV worldwide.

But people were interested and it began taking on a larger meaning, and now is a day aimed at ending all forms of discrimination.  (PDF)

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!

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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!

Awards You Might Not Know About

Book awards beyond the Newberry and Caldecott.

We’ve all heard of the Newberry and Caldecott Awards.  In fact, you might even have done a book report on one at some time in your childhood.  If you’re a savvy librarian or teacher, you might know about some of the other awards like the Giesel or Wilder Medals.

But did you know that there are many awards out there specifically for helping you find the best books and authors for a host of diverse groups?

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The Coretta Scott King Book Awards – 2016
There are four different categories.  This long-running award is probably the most likely to be seen on the shelves of your local bookstore.  The number of honors (vs. awards) seems to change yearly based on what is published.

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Schneider Family Book Award – 2016
“The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.”  Both fiction and non-fiction are eligible but fiction tends to win more.  Categories are Children’s, Teens, and Middle School, and multiple books can win, but there are no honors.

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Stonewall Book Award – 2016  
Running since 1971, this award honors books relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender experience.  There are currently six categories including fiction and non-fiction for children, YA, and adults, and up to four books can be honored in some categories (it varies by year).

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Pura Belpré Award – 2016  
“The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.”  There are winners and honors for authors and illustrators, fiction and non-fiction are mixed with fiction more predominate.

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American Indian Youth Literature Award – 2016   
These awards are given every two years to fiction or non-fiction books in the categories of picture book, middle grades, and YA. “Books selected to receive the award will present American Indians in the fullness of their humanity in the present and past contexts.”

 

Of course, awards are not perfect.  Some years mediocre books win an award, other times modern classics are passed over (Amazing Grace) and don’t win any awards.  However, for parents, teachers, and librarians, these award lists can be a huge help as we try to find quality books in areas we might not be very knowledgeable in.

What major awards am I missing?  Does your local library buy the winners of these awards?