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Ten Steps to Promote Diversity in Children’s Literature

Ten Steps to Promote Diversity in Children’s Literature
by Wade Hudson

This Diversity Books Pledge was developed after attending Day of Diversity, sponsored by the Association for Library Services to Children and the Children’s Book Council and held on January 30, 2015 during the American Library Association Mid-Winter conference in Chicago, IL.

The lack of real diversity in children’s literature is a problem that has been difficult to conquer. Many have confronted it over the years, doing what they could to effect important change. In 1920, W.E.B. DuBois, Jessie Fausett and Augustus G. Dill established The Brownies Book, a monthly magazine that writer and university associate professor Katharine Capshaw Smith cites as “the beginning of Black children’s literature.”

booksDuring the decades that followed, Langston Hughes, Arna Bontemps, Effie Lee Newsome, playwright Willis Richardson, artist Lois Mailou Jones and others continued to produce works that helped to move Black children’s literature forward. In 1965, The Council on Interracial Books for Children was formed to “promote and develop children’s literature that adequately reflects a multiracial society.” In 1969, Where Does the Day Go, written by Walter Dean Myers, won a Council contest and became the celebrated author’s first published book. In 1968, To Be a Slave, by Julius Lester, illustrated by Tom Feelings, was published (and earned a 1968 Newbery Honor). Virginia Hamilton’s first book, Zeely, was published in 1969. In 1970, the Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table of the American Library Association established the Coretta Scott King Award to recognize outstanding works for children written by African Americans.

Other awards recognizing the outstanding works of writers and illustrators of color followed, including the Pura Belpré Award. During the past several decades, independent presses such as Just Us Books, Lee & Low Books, Arte Publico Press, Cinco Puntos, and others, have led the charge–dedicating their catalogs to quality books for children and young adults that reflect our nation’s diversity. Major publishers have added to the number of diverse books as well. Yet, real diversity in children’s literature remains a goal rather than a reality. (see: “Where are the People of Color in Children’s Books?” by the late Walter Dean Myers)

The truth is, children’s book publishing faces the same challenges that society faces when it comes to ethnic, racial and gender fairness, equity and justice. But, just as in society, we all must play a role if we are to make change that is transformative.

The Diversity Pledge below offers steps anyone can take to help ensure that literature for our children and young people is truly representative of who we are as a diverse world. Will you take the pledge to take steps to make a difference?

DIVERSITY BOOKS PLEDGE
Created by Wade Hudson (© 2014)

To help increase the number of quality children’s books that celebrate diversity, and to support the diverse books already available,

I Pledge To:

  1. Each year, personally introduce 10 different children’s books that reflect our nation’s diversity to educators, librarians, bookstore managers, and parents—anyone who has the influence and/or power to help increase the number of these books within our body of children’s literature.
  2. Gift at least 5 of these books to children other than my own—whether they’re neighbors’, friends’ or co-workers’ children; children at my place of worship or local youth organizations; or as donations to other organizations in my community.
  3. Try to give at least 2 or 3 of these books to children who might not normally have diverse books in their homes.
  4. Make a special effort to buy some of these books from independent publishers, independent bookstores and vendors, including those operated by people of color.
  5. Lift up the importance of having books that reflect our nation’s diversity at every opportunity—not just within my circle of friends, but among others with whom I don’t normally interact.
  6. When visiting a book store, encourage the manager to include a more diverse offering of children’s books. Take the initiative to purchase at least one multicultural title to show my commitment to supporting these books.
  7. Encourage educators and school administrators to include multicultural books among their classroom resources.
  8. Encourage book reviewers and bloggers to include more multicultural books among the books they review.
  9. Publicly celebrate positive multicultural children’s literature, including posting multicultural books and reviews of those books on my personal Facebook page and other social media platforms.
  10. Encourage others to take this pledge.

YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

justusbooks

http://aalbc.org/authors/author.php?author_name=Wade+HudsonWade Hudson is president and CEO of Just Us Books, Inc., independent publisher of children’s books that celebrate the diversity of Black people, history and culture. You can follow him on Twitter at @hudsonwade and find his books at http://justusbooks.com.

 

Related Links Provided by AALBC.com

2015 Year End Thank You!

Coming in the New Year

newbookscreenshotThe biggest news for the new year is our website upgrade. We are redesigning AALBC.com from scratch, and we have the benefit of 18 years of content and experience, to bring you a world class website, celebrating Black culture through literature.

Without getting too technical, we are developing a customized CMS, which will allow us to present information about books and authors in a way that no other website can. Our new website is, mobile first, faster, more easily navigated, and less cluttered.

We now offer more flexible book buying options, including links to publishers (as with Just Us Books) and other independent booksellers, to bring you the best deals while offering publishers better opportunities to profit from their books. In some cases, as with the Go On Girl! Book Club’s reading list, commissions from book sales are donated to charity.

Speaking about book clubs, we are greatly increasing our coverage of book clubs, not only to help book clubs attract new members and share ideas without other clubs, but to help readers discover the great reads book clubs have researched and uncovered.

This is just the beginning; we still have a lot content to migrate and have not settled on a layout for our homepage, but you can review our progress, in real time, on our development website aalbc.org.

Our upgrade is a massive project, which we plan to complete in the spring 2016. Your ongoing support is crucial to the success of this effort, indeed to the survival of AALBC.com. Here are 5 things you can do to help:

  1. Share our content.
  2. Purchase your eNewsletter subscription.
  3. Buy books through our website.
  4. Share your thoughts in the comments on each page and join our discussion forums
  5. Keep reading!

The Power List & Huria Search Will Be Decommissioned

Decommissioned websitesHuria Search’s goal was to support and showcase independent Black owned content producers and book websites by making them more discoverable. The spirit of Huria Search will continue on AALBC.com. We have already migrated most of Huria Search’s content to AALBC.com, including our information on Black Bloggers, Black Newspapers, Black Magazines, Black Bookstores, Black Book Websites, with more to come.

The Power List was a collaborative effort to fill the void, left by Essence Magazine and Blackboard, for a bestsellers list covering African American literature. However, AALBC.com’s best selling books list, with our newly increased focus will be a suitable alternative next year. The new website design has made it possible to add a children’s bestselling books list and we will be able to produce a new list every month.

The freeing up of resources, previously dedicated to the Power List and Huria Search, will allow me to focus more intently on improving AALBC.com.

A Very Special Thanks to These AALBC.com Supporters

news-troyWhen one compiles a list like this, important people are invariably left off. To you I truly apologize. However I feel compelled to acknowledge a few people and institutions, who in 2015 lifted me spiritually, financially or through deed. Without your support AALBC.com would simply be impossible. In no particular order:

Dr. Elizabeth Nunez, Christopher D. Burns, Akashic Books, Kimberla Lawson Roby, SmileyBooks, Wade and Cheryl Hudson, The Center for Black Literature, Dr. David Colvin, Good2Go Publishing, Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati, Robin Johnson, Connie Divers Bradley, Victoria Christopher Murray, Sherrie Young, Mike Cherichetti, Fertari Netsuziy, W. Paul Coates, Jewell Parker Rhodes, Lynda Johnson, Pamela Samuels Young, Gwen Richardson, Charisse Carney-Nunes, Queens Public Library, Baruch College, Kam Williams, Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Carol Taylor, HICKSON, Google, Martha Kennerson, M. D. Williams, Robert Fleming, Rita Williams-Garcia, Tony & Yvonne Rose, Ramunda & Derrick Young, Jamie Blatman, Kalamu ya Salaam, HICKSON, Mike D’nero, Bernard Timberlake II, Cordenia Paige, HARRY BROWN, my “Bookends NYC” crew, anyone else I failed to recognize.

Finally to my wife and daughters who bear, involuntarily, the struggle I have taken on without complaint and with love. They support my effort, of celebrating Black culture through literature, simply because it is my dream.

I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year!

Peace & Love,
Troy Johnson
AALBC.com Founder and Webmaster

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AALBC.com Co-Hosts the Annual Black Pack Party Which will be Held in Chicago in 2016

 

Do You Trust That There are no Mistakes in Life?

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Blog-4-trustsWho do you trust? Everyone? No one? Some people? Sometimes?

Are you ready to begin your trust trek? If you are, consider this: Whether you are walking, running, flying in a plane, or cruising on a boat, trust is operating somewhere in your consciousness. From the time you get out of bed in the morning until the time you fall asleep at night, you are functioning, operating, and depending on something or someone you trust. For some strange reason we have come to believe that trust is something that we can do or not do. The truth is that trust as a state of being and a state of mind develops and unfolds in response to our willingness to be alive.

In best-selling author Iyanla Vanzant’s new book, Trust, she encourages you to live the rest of your life with trust. In this compelling volume, filled with illuminating and heartrendingly powerful stories of broken trust, betrayal, and triumph, Iyanla demonstrates why the four essential trusts—Trust in Self, Trust in God, Trust in Others, and Trust in Life—are like oxygen: without them, none of us can survive.

That’s right! Just staying alive is an act of trust. If you don’t believe me, exhale and try not to inhale…If you allowed your body to take that next breath, you were trusting that it would happen, that you could do it, and that everything would be fine until you were ready to do it again.

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Order your copy of Trust before December 20, 2015 and receive these very special gifts from Iyanla:

bloh-peacePeace from Broken Pieces Audio Download of Book (valued at $39.99)
Iyanla Vanzant recounts the last decade of her life and the spiritual lessons learned—from the price of success during her meteoric rise as a TV celebrity on Oprah, the Iyanla TV show (produced by Barbara Walters), to the dissolution of her marriage and her daughter’s 15 months of illness and death on Christmas day.

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Iyanla shares why everything we need to learn is reflected in our relationships and the strength and wisdom she has gained by supporting others in their journeys to make sense out of the puzzle pieces of their lives.

Radio Show Bundle “Ask Iyanla!” (valued at $48.00, gift expires on December 20, 2015)
Iyanla answers questions from the audience about various life challenges and experiences. From relationship problem, career question, or just need some straight talk about life problems, no question is off limits.

Download Chapter 8 and Chapter 9 for Free!

Chapter 8: Trust or Consequences

Chapter 8: Trust or Consequences

Chapter 9: Excuses

Chapter 9: Excuses

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Dear Reader,

Back in 1998, Iyanla Vanzant was our very first best-selling author. Since then she has graced our bestsellers list numerous times. Her books have sold well, for so long, because they resonate with people. Her struggles are our struggles. Her success can be ours too, if we listen and trust.

Peace & Love,
Troy Johnson
Founder & Webmaster

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