Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Diversity Discussions: (Inter)Cultural Programming at the Library, by Jayla

About two weeks ago I had the privilege of attending a training session on Diversity and Outreach. The presenters of the program are the duo behind the edutainment team, Crisscross Mango Sauce. I thoroughly enjoyed the information that the ladies shared with us. One of the things that stuck with me as I was leaving the session deals with how libraries should incorporate intercultural, not multicultural, programs into our libraries.
You may be wondering what the difference between intercultural and multicultural is.  In a nutshell, multicultural programs are those programs that bring a person of another culture in, but we don’t exchange information. There may be dialog from the presenter, but there isn’t an interaction between groups. As librarians, we should be providing teens with well-rounded cultural experiences. Intercultural programs allow for that exchange to happen.
An exercise the Crisscross Mango Sauce duo asked us to complete sums up my explanation very well. All training participants were asked to break into pairs and, for five minutes, we discussed the prompt, “How did you mother show you…?” The prompt topics included things like beauty, affection, trust, and knowledge. Despite almost all of us having been born into the American culture, we all held so many different ideas of these common topics. Our experiences were all different, but a few pairings shared similar ideals. It was very eye opening and, in five minutes, I learned a lot about people I’d never even met before!

Libraries are diverse populations already. People from different nationalities and ethnicities come into our buildings to find information. Why not use those people as sources of information? You may not use them for your program, but more than likely they know who the cultural leaders are in the community. The most important thing about intercultural programming, any programming really, is to bring people from outside of the library, into the library. I can guarantee you that within your community, there is a group that includes some culture drastically different from your own. Use them! Pick their brain!
One of my co-workers put together a fabulous Spanish-English story time, complete with piñata, jarabe (or the “Mexican Hat Dance”), and duo-language story time. And, get this; she didn’t have to plan ANYTHING! Of course my co-worker conversed with the presenter and they talked about some things she would need to include in the program. But, for the most part, the outsider presenter was the one who ran the program.  
Often times the focus for diversity is spotlighted on younger children. For example, the American Library Association has a wonderful initiative called El Dia de los Niños (dia.ala.org), Dia for short, which celebrates cultural diversity among children. Dia, Diversity in Action, is geared towards children, but I see no reason that teens can’t be a part of that mix as well. It is just as important for teens to realize the wonderful things they can learn from someone not like them. 
If you are doing cultural programming in your library, what are some of the resources you use? Are they internal (patrons) or external (business, community centers, etc.)?
List some of the cultural (past, present, and future) programs that take place in your library! What was the response? From teens? From presenters?  Let’s discuss in the comments.

Introduction: Diversity Discussions with Jayla from LadyBlueJayReads

Today I am very excited to announce a new monthly contributor to TLT, Jayla.  She has been gracious enough to add her perspective as a new librarian to the mix here at TLT.  She has also decided that she would like to start a new monthly column called Diversity Discussions.  So join us the last week of each month for her posts.  
Meet Jayla . . .
Hello fellow librarians and young people advocates! I’m Jayla Parks, a book blogger and future (hopefully) youth services librarian! My journey to librarianship came out of nowhere really. As an undergraduate, I majored in Theater and received credits towards a minor in English. The two English classes that I absolutely loved were the Adolescent and Children’s Literature classes. During my time in college, I also worked at the school’s library and really enjoyed helping people find what they needed and being generally surrounded by books. Toward the end of my time at school, I expressed interest in working with children to one of the reference librarians. His response — “Why don’t you become a children’s librarian?” and I thought “Children’s librarian? That’s perfect!.”
So there you have it. My MLS will be in my hands in May and I couldn’t be more excited about the field I’ve chosen to work in! In the last year or so, I’ve become heavily involved in joining professional organization where there are wide ranges of topics discussed relating to librarianship and youth advocacy.  Now, I’d like to extend my reach to contribute to those discussions! Particular on the topic of diversity.
It’s no secret that diversity in libraries and literature is becoming a hot topic. People want to see more books that represent people just like them. And it’s not a strictly racial issue. Diversity topics include sexual orientation, physical disabilities, and mental disabilities. In the coming months, I hope to present you all with lists, discussions, and ideas that will not only supply diverse populations with the information they need, but also educate ourselves so we can provide tweens and teens alike with solid, colorful information.  

Take 5: Reasons to read your December 2013 VOYA


There is a great list of titles that depict Muslims in Young Adult Literature.  Since September 11th, the Muslim population has been the target of a tremendous amount of fear, bias and outright racial targeting.  This is a good and varied list that examines the Muslim life in a wide variety of ways and can help break down those prejudices. (by Amanda MacGregor, page 12)


Last year, Pride and Prejudice turned 200 years old.  There are tons of ya titles that somehow reference Pride and Prejudice, and I’m not just talking about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  VOYA has a list of titles for you and your teen Austen fans. (by Christina Miller, page 14)


As you know, I am a huge advocate for serving teens on the Autism spectrum in libraries.  The December issue of VOYA has a really good look at serving teens with Asperger’s or a Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NVLD).  There is also some good information on what it is and resources.  (by Madelene Rathbun Barnard, page 28)

4.  GETTING GIRLS IN THE GAME: Making Gaming Inclusive

On Tumblr, there has been a statistic going around about how girls make up 35% of the gaming community but less than 10% of the characters in games (loosely, this are not exact figures).  The truth is, I have met a lot of ya authors who are avid gamers.  And a lot of my female teens are avid gamers as well.  This article, by Hannah R. Gerber, is a good discussion about making gaming more inclusive.  I highly recommend that you do some Googling and read up on the issues that women face in the gaming community; it’s not always very pretty and can be quite serious in terms of the threats, hate and sexual and verbal threats that girls can receive. (by Hannah R. Gerber, page 44)


According to the article by Tina P. Schwartz, about 11 percent of teens have a depressive disorder.  That is a huge figure.  Girls are more likely than boys to experience depression.  This article is a good look at the signs, the various kinds of depression, triggers and some resources to help teens understand their mood disorders. (by Tina P. Schwartz, page 16)

Please note, TLT is a networked blog with VOYA Magazine.

Sherlock and the Case of the Diversity Problem (and why representation matters)

The creator of the BBC Sherlock reboot is none other than Steve Moffat, who also is currently helming another popular BBC show – Doctor Who.  One of the things that has always impressed me about Doctor Who as I began watching it was the diversity of the show.  When we first meet the reboot Doctor, number 9, he takes a decidely white Rose into space and time with him, and sometimes her very non-white boyfriend joins them.  After Rose, the Doctor is accompanied by Martha, also not white.  And they have several adventures with Captain Jack Harkness, who later gets his own show called Torchwood, who is very white but is also decidely not straight.  In fact, there are a wide variety of characters that appear in both Doctor Who and Torchwood and the most amazing thing is – no one every comments really on their non-whiteness or their sexuality (I won’t say never, because it does come up in context a couple of times), because it is understood that we live in a diverse world and there is no need for commentary.

Early Doctor Who Reboot
Sarah Jane, Mickey Smith, Jackie Tyler, Rose Tyler, Doctor, Martha Jones, Donna Noble and Capt. Jack Harkness
Check out this article at The Mary Sue as the BBC responds to critics of racism in Doctor Who
So we have Mickey, Martha Jones, Tosh (on Torchwood), Captain Jack, Ianto (and they kiss – a lot), and a variety of supporting characters who pop in and out and THERE IS DIVERSITY.  Then Steven Moffat took over, and things changed.  And then he rebooted Sherlock.

So what happens to Sherlock?  Well, Sherlock lacks diversity.  All of the main cast of characters is decidedly white male, most of the supporting characters are as well.  But here’s the deal, later day Doctor Who and Sherlock are under a different creator/writer.  And this change has brought about some diversity issues.

To make matters worse, there is an undercurrent of homophobia running throughout the relationship of Sherlock and Watson, as if being a couple – gasp – would be THE. WORST. THING. EVER.  I mean, they feel the need to stop in the middle of murder investigations and make sure that everyone understands that there is no way in hell they would ever be a couple as if that is more important than the fact that people are dying.  I understand that there are men in real life who would definitely not want to be identified as homosexual, what I don’t get is why we feel the need to write it in as a running gag and a source of amusement on a show that already has so much going on.  It’s unnecessary and contributes to the continued harassment and stigmazation of a people group that has spent centuries being persecuted.  Keep in mind that identifying as GLBTQ in today’s world is one of the leading causes of teenage bullying, homelessness and suicide.  Making them the butt of the jokes on a popular show contributes to this ongoing epidemic.  And whatever one may personally feel about homosexuality, I don’t think it is okay to create a hostile environment for them.  Full stop.

Infographic Source

Of course Sherlock did try and give a nod to diversity once in an epic fail of an episode called The Blind Banker.  For a variety of reasons, this is my least favorite episode of the series to date.  Mostly, I simply don’t really care all that much for the story.  But also, this episode is one of the few episodes where we get some main characters of color and they are full of stereotypes.  There is a good discussion of the problem of diversity in The Blind Banker hereOr this post which points out that the script for The Blind Banker calls for “Soo Lin Yao, a fragile little porcelain Chinese doll; a stupid brute of a Sikh warrior; Japanese geisha nicknacks for sale in a Chinese…not a shop…the script calls it an emporium…”  It’s like the writers reached into their grab bag of Asian stereotypes and threw them all against a wall to see which would stick, and apparently they all did.

Molly Hooper: BBC

Then we come to the character of Irene Adler, which Christie already talked about on Monday.  I have such mixed feelings on Irene.  She is definitely shown as being a strong female character, a woman who confounds and beguiles Sherlock.  But her power comes primarily from her sexuality.  In fact, when Sherlock first meets her she appears in her birthday suit, she is using her nudity as a powerplay.  So although I love that we have a strong female character, I wish that her power could come somewhere other than her sexuality.  It seems as if our popular culture continues to assert to young women that they can only be powerful if they can harness and exude their sexuality.  In comparison, we have the character of Molly Hooper, who is once again a stereotype.  Molly is a smart girl, the token science geek girl if you will, so of course she must be mousey and socially akward and pine after Sherlock.  Imagine for just a moment if we could have had a strong, intelligent science minded woman who found power in her intellect and ability to help Sherlock as opposed to the only real female representation of power that we get in Irene Adler.  This is an interesting look at the character of Irene Adler, and more interestingly about how the role of Moriarty undermines the role of Irene Adler.  And perhaps my favorite comment about Irene Adler can be found here: “Well, to be fair, BCC Sherlock did turn Irene from a master of disguise and all-around genius who easily saw through Sherlock’s ruse into a pawn of Moriarty who needs to be told how to deal with Sherlock.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: ABC

Why does this matter?  Sherlock is a reboot, an updated take on the popular character.  In the original works, these issues would make more sense because they were written in a time period that thought differently than we do today.  But this Sherlock appears in modern day London.  As we update the setting, we also need to update the representation of people who are not white men to reflect modern day sensibilities.  Look around you, the modern day world is not as white as the world of Sherlock would lead us to believe.  And this is important because it affects how we perceive the world around us and how people who are not white men perceive themselves, and each other.  People often say that entertainment entertains but it does not influence.  But I can’t help but wonder, if we know that marketing works, and we do, then how can we suggest that what we see in our media doesn’t influence how we think about our world, ourselves and each other?  The answer is, I think, that we can’t.  Diverse representation matters because people need to know that people of color can be strong, intelligent, and powerful without being a bad guy, a red shirt, a token, or – gasp – a maid or gas station attendant (or a fragile porcelain Chinese doll).  And girls (women) need to know that they can be powerful because of their intelligence, their contributions to society, and in their friendships – it doesn’t have to come from sexuality, it isn’t all about sexuality.

Here’s the thing.  I really, really love the BBC’s Sherlock.  I love the way it looks visually, how you see how Sherlock is processing the evidence and coming to his conclusions.  I love the quirkiness that is Sherlock, and how he is kind of a despicable, arrogant character but has glimpses of humanity, often in relation to Watson or Mrs. Hudson.  Mostly, I love that it is intelligent drama that asks you to pay attention.  But I can’t pretend it is perfect even though I am an enthusiastic fan.  Just as I can’t pretend Doctor Who is perfect.  I want my tweens and teens to grow up in a world where they are represented in healthy and realistic ways so that they develop healthy images of themselves and their place in this world.  Sherlock needs to do better.  And yes, my teens are watching.

P.S. All these same arguments hold true for our MG and YA lit.  Diversity is important.  Representation matters.  Readers need to see realistic representations to have their existence, their place in this world, affirmed.  And readers need to have realistic depictions of those that are different from themselves so that they develop realistic and healthy ideas about those that are different than them.

“If she can’t see it, she can’t be it”
Beth Revis: I See You, Representation Matters (great post, read it)
Ramp Your Voice: Why Representation Matters in Children’s Books and Media
Actually, just Google “representation matters” for lots of great posts

More Diversity at TLT:
Racial Stereotyping in YA Literature
Race Reflections, Take II
Building Bridges to Literacy for African American Male Youth Summit recap, part 1
Friday Reflections: Talking with Hispanic/Latino Teens about YA Lit
See also the Diversity in YA Tumblr by Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo

More on Gender and Sexuality at TLT:
I’m Just a Girl? Gender issues in YA Lit
Girls Against Girls
Teach Me How to Live: talking with guys about ya lit with Eric Devine
Let’s Hear It for the Boys: Boys and body image
Who Will Save You? Boundaries, Rescue and the Role of Adults in the Lives of Teens
The Curious Case of the Gender Based Assignment 

You want to put WHAT in my YA?
Taking a Stand for What You Believe In
Annie on My Mind and Banned Books Week on My Calendar
Queer (a book review)
Top 10: For Annie and Liza (Annie on My Mind)

12 Blogs of Christmas: Diversity in YA

It’s time to kick off our 3rd annual 12 Blogs of Christmas.  Here we share with you some of our favorite blogs to discuss MG and YA lit, be inspired by new craft ideas, or just learn more about teen issues and culture.



noun: diversity
1. The state of being diverse; variety
from merriam-webster dictionary


Blog #1


From the Blog’s About Page:
Diversity in YA was founded in 2011 by YA authors Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo as a website and book tour. While the tour is over, we’ve revived the website as a tumblr! We celebrate young adult books about all kinds of diversity, from race to sexual orientation to gender identity and disability. We hope you’ll enjoy celebrating them with us.

Why I Love It:
Technically, this is a blog via Tumblr. But it is chock full of in depth discussions, title recommendations, and useful statistics.  If you care about diversity in YA lit, this is a resource you need to be reading everyday.  If you don’t care about diversity in YA lit, then I hope you are not a ya librarian because all YA librarians need to care about this topic.  We live in a diverse world, our teens deserve – and need – to see themselves authentically reflected in the books that they read.  And though my personal rallying cry is that we need to expand our definition of diversity to include things like class differences, spiritual lives and belief practices, and moving beyond normative gender stereotypes, we definitely need to be thinking about and discussing race and sexuality in our ya lit.  Diversity in YA is a great place to be doing this.

Some of my favorite posts include:
Diversity in ALA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults
Gay in YA (graphic via Epic Reads)
Link: 5 YA Titles that Feature Characters with Asperger’s or Autism
Beyond Diversity 101: On Bisexual Characters and YA Literature
Diversity in Secrets (guest post by Amy Reed)

Flashback TLT Posts

Diversity Discussions on TLT

Racial Stereotyping in YA Literature
Race Reflections, Take II
Building Bridges to Literacy for African American Male Youth Summit recap, part 1
Friday Reflections: Talking with Hispanic/Latino Teens about YA Lit

Gender Issues on TLT
I’m Just a Girl? Gender issues in YA Lit
Girls Against Girls
Teach Me How to Live: talking with guys about ya lit with Eric Devine
Let’s Hear It for the Boys: Boys and body image
Who Will Save You? Boundaries, Rescue and the Role of Adults in the Lives of Teens
The Curious Case of the Gender Based Assignment

GLBTQ Discussions on TLT
You want to put WHAT in my YA?
Taking a Stand for What You Believe In
Annie on My Mind and Banned Books Week on My Calendar
Queer (a book review)
Top 10: For Annie and Liza (Annie on My Mind)

The Case for Diversity: A Statistical Profile of Teens

Should there be more POC (people of color) in YA lit?  Should teens in YA lit drink?  What about have sex?  The truth is, YA lit (or teen lit) should reflect the audience it is marketed to.  And in many ways, it doesn’t.  There are millions of teens, and just like the rest of the world, they are a diverse population in skin tones, beliefs, activities, interests and more.

Since I work with teens, I like to occasionally take a look at what the various data can tell me about the teen patrons I serve.  Here’s a little look at the state of teenagers today. 

“According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there were 40,747,962 youth age 10-19 in the United States, 14.5% of the total U.S. population. Estimates for 2009 by the Census Bureau put these figures at  41,511,401, or 13.5% of the total population.” (Census Bureau: Annual estimates by sex and five-year age groups). It is estimated that soon, white, non-hispanic teens will make up less than 50% of the population – but they seem to make up 90% of the literature (not an actual fact, just a guesstimate).

Screen Grab 10/22/13 from FACTs RE: Teen Demographics


20% of children are raised as only children. (from Parents magazine)

Less than 10% of homes report having 3 or more children in the home in the last census. (from the U. S. Census)

50% of kids (and teens) report being bullied by siblings. (from the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health)

One-in-Ten Children Are Living with a Grandparent (from Stephen’s Lighthouse

Approximately 60% of children in grades 1 through 12 are being raised by a single parent, often working 2 or more jobs and receiving supplmental aid through food stamps or other forms of assistance. (from Literacy Statistics)

Drug and Alcohol Use

Alcohol use remains extremely widespread among today’s teenagers. Nearly three quarters of students (72%) have consumed alcohol (more than just a few sips) by the end of high school, and more than a third (37%) have done so by eighth grade. 
(from SADD and Drug Abuse.gov )

“In 2012, 6.5 percent of 8th graders, 17.0 percent of 10th graders, and 22.9 percent of 12th graders used marijuana in the past month” (from DrugFacts: High School and Youth Trends


In 120 minutes there will be 160 new dropouts. (from Teen Stats

Dyslexia affects 1 out of every 5 children. (from Reading, Literacy and Education Statistics)

Most books being read by teens today have a 5th grade reading level. (from Huffington Post)

1 in 4 children grow up without learning how to read. (from Do Something)


5 to 6% of U.S. youth identify as GLBTQ (from LGBT Youth Fact Sheet)

The average age for “coming out” is 16.  (from LGBT Youth Fact Sheet)

40% of Homeless youth are GLBTQ (from Think Progress)

84% of GLBTQ teens report some sort of harrassment. (from LGBT Youth Fact Sheet

LGBT teens are 4 times as likely to attempt suicide. (from LGBT Youth Fact Sheet)


1 in 5 children and teens face hunger issues every day (from No Kid Hungry)

Sexual Activity

By age 15, only 13% of teens have ever had sex. However, by the time they reach age 19, seven in 10 teens have engaged in sexual intercourse. (from Relationship Matters)

1 in 3 girls in the U.S. are estimated to get pregnant before they are twenty. (from Relationship Matters)

From Macleans

Spiritual Lives

84% of teens identify themselves as religious. (from The National Study of Youth and Religion

Interestingly enough, I found statistics on the spiritual lives of teenagers the hardest to find.  A lot of it was from a Christian perspective. 

Check out my growing Pinterest board of Teen Stats in Infographics for more information


About one in 11 teens reports being a victim of physical dating abuse each year. (from Relationship Matters)

The 3rd leading cause of death in the teenage years is suicide. 1in 11 high school students admit to having suicidal thoughts or attempts. (from Teen Help)

30% of teens grades 6-10 are involved in bullying, either on the receiving end or as the perpetrator (from Teen Help and Bullying Statistics)

Over half of teens report being bullied online (from Bullying Statistics)

For me, these statistics are a call to action that we must do more.  That we must do more to help provide our youth with more education, better health, more stability in their home lives, and more meaningful adult relationships.  Not just as librarians – no, librarians can’t do it alone – but as a society.

More Teen Stats
Statistics on High School Students (covers a wide variety of topics)
Internet Use
Various Teen Stats

Soundvision: Statistics on Teens
An Infographic (yay for Infographics)
Teen Consumer Stats
PEW Trend Data (Teens)
ALA Sobering Statistics (Teens)
Tech trends, library stats and how Teens do research
Library Services in the Digital Age (PEW)

Teen Faith Practices (Christian teens)
Teen Demographics (this is an excellent resource)

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Shielding you from POC

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. : ABC
I am the self-acknowledged comic groupie of our blog. I will admit it. I will be, if not at the midnight premiere of a comic/graphic novel movie, I hit opening weekend. I am in awe of the whole Marvel universe movie-wise right now, because of the huge amount of planning they are putting into everything. I call Loki my imaginary boyfriend. So I was really, really excited for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to premiere because I was really pissed about Agent Coulson’s death in The Avengers. The fact that Whedon brought him back made up for it a bit. Yet, as the series goes on, I’m finding myself questioning more and more about whether I want to continue on with the series.
The pilot was everything fans could dream of- action, snappy dialogue, intrigue, hidden bad guys, unknown superheroes, and Coulson coming back to life. There’s the Rising Tide, new characters that we don’t know, and a peak into S.H.I.E.L.D. that we got glimpses of during The Avengers. It’s no wonder that it blew ratings out of the water, with live viewers and taped.

Yet as the weeks continue, ratings are declining. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been picked up for the season, and we know that producers Joss Whedon and others have said that there will be tie-ins with the Marvel movies (already from the pilot we have a tie-in with extremis from Iron Man 3 and references to the invasion in New York from The Avengers, so it’s only logical that in November and April we’ll have tie-ins from Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier), but there’s things that are missing.

Everyone has their own points- there’s not enough action, there’s not the snappy dialogue, there’s not enough love interest. And when are we going to find out what actually happened to Agent Coulson? And I get that- everyone has their own expectations when it comes to things. However, I have a huge issue with S.H.I.E.L.D., and it is none of those.

Where are the people of color? Yes, there’s Maggie May (played wonderfully by Ming-Na Wen), but there couldn’t have been anyone else on the “bus” in a color other than white? Agent Coulson is obviously locked in, but there’s no reason that Skye, Agent Ward, Fitz or Simmons could not have been cast as a person of color. Having strong POC as scientists or field agents or hackers would be wonderful for our youth, and add a diversity to a universe that so far is almost completely whitewashed (save for Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson, who can do no wrong- even in xXx: State of the Union).

Actually, if you want to take it further, like a lot of television shows, S.H.I.E.L.D. seems to be marginalizing POC when it should be placing them in prominent spots. I could care less about Skye’s whining and obvious attraction with Agent Ward (there seems to be NO chemistry between the two), but what happened with Mike Peterson, the superhero from the pilot who was exposed to extremis? Yes, he was taken off it and “cured”, but we never see him again; I was hoping HE would join the team somehow.  Compelling actor of color, and used once and then gone. 

Episode two: “0-8-4”, we get Camilla, a former flame of Agent Coulson, who turns out to be a bad guy. Takes over the bus, and yes, gets everyone to act like a team, but she’s the bad guy, and gone again.

Episode three: In “The Asset” not even the bad guys were people of color. There’s no reason that Dr. Hall, Fitz/Simmons’ mentor couldn’t have been some awesome professor that wasn’t bloody ENGLISH. 

Episode four: “Eye Spy” has another POC as the titular “bad person”, this time with actress Pascale Armand playing a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and former protege of Agent Coulson having been turned by a nameless organization against her will. Coulson and the others save her in the end, but she faces trial for what she did while under the direction of her captors, so it’s doubtful at best if we see her again. 

There is no reason why there can’t be more people of color “on the bus” in Agent Coulson’s terms. It’s a complete casting call, and a wasted opportunity. This could be pushing the boundaries of what is on television, and again we’re given the safe options. 

I’m tired of safe. I don’t need to be shielded. Give me diversity that reflects real life.

Friday Finds – June 21, 2013

This week at TLT:

We have a list of your favorite Dads in YA.

Robin talks about text complexity in the language arts classroom and the latest article from NPR.

Previously on TLT:

It the wake of the success of the Harry Potter franchise and the Hunger Games movie, an awful lot of YA books are being optioned for movies these days. Here’s a review for a novel that I think would make a can’t miss book-to-movie hit.
Around the web:

Something to think about: Better sex scenes in books will keep kids from learning about sex in porn.

From Lee and Low, some thoughts on the causes behind the lack of diversity in children’s and youth literature.

Printz Award Winner John Corey Whaley shares information about his second book, Noggin over at Entertainment Weekly Shelflife. Karen is completely fascinated by the concept of this book and can’t wait to read it.

Lauren Oliver’s upcoming novel, Panic, has already been snatched up by Universal.  Sadly, the Delirium TV show was not picked up by Fox.

Christie found this link of teens reacting to the Catching Fire trailer.  Christie especially loves the sweetheart at 1:02, the overly emotional blonde girl, and the guy in the red checked vest who stared slackjawed the whole time!

The Twitter Chat Review: Diversity in Legend by Marie Lu, cohosted by author David James

So, I read (actually I listened to) Legend by Marie Lu for last night’s Diversity chat hosted by author David James.  You always hear great things about this series, but I had not yet read it.  To be honest: It was amazing. 

The Goodreads synopsis of Legend states: What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Legend is a superb example of storytelling where the details slowly unfold and you are stunned time and time again by the reveal.  In addition, the world that Lu creates seems not only possible, but a likely outcome if we continue on our current trajectory.  She takes class warfare to new, extreme levels and terrifies with this all too possible vision of what some people will do for power.  And in the midst of it all, she creates strong, rich characters full of complexity and emotion.  Definitely chech this one out.

Below are some of the Tweets from last night’s Twitter chat.

There was one area in which there was some disagreement, diversity about character sexuality.

More on Diversity at TLT:
Racial Stereotyping in YA Literature
Race Reflections, Take II
Building Bridges to Literacy for African American Male Youth Summit recap, part 1
Friday Reflections: Talking with Hispanic/Latino Teens about YA Lit

Shadows on the Rainbow: Not including the spectrum in GLBTQ YA

So Karen was emailing me this morning about Malinda Lo (oh, I love her and her tweets and blogs and books) and her blog about David Levithan’s new cover. If you haven’t seen it yet, click here.  And Karen’s all, I didn’t know there was a male privilege effect in GLBTQ books. And I’m like *head smack* it’s EVERYWHERE. Duh.

We like to think that the GLBTQI world would be inclusive of everyone.  In our world in general, and especially in publishing specifically, that’s rarely the case. Those with the bigger names and those whose works will fit broader target audiences and thus make more money will get published, even though they may not have the best quality. There are stories out there that need to be told that aren’t reaching our youth- stories of color, stories of trans, stories of queer. We have imprints that are picking up stories, but new GLBTQ authors are finding massive hurdles in their way, and only a few make it to big imprints. Those that do worry that the next book might be their last.  Authors who have a huge backing like Levithan are rare in the GLBTQ world, and there need to be more.

And the fact that publishers and bookstores and even libraries can just put GAY or GAY AND LESBIAN on the entire section and feel happy that they’ve done their job means that there needs to be more education within the entire system. GAY does not cover everyone within the Rainbow- far from it- and by slapping on labels you’re actually doing a huge disservice to those in and out.

Even the award winners for youth do not cover the spectrum. 

The GLBT-RT roundtable of the American Library Association puts out the Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award (Stonewall Youth Awards) yearly, and has since 2010. 

  • 2013:  Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (gay)
  • 2012:  Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy (gay)
  • 2011:  Almost Perfect (trans)
  • 2010:  The Vast Fields of Ordinary (gay)

Lambda Literary has been crowning winners for children’s/ young adult category since 1993: winners from 2002-2011:

  • 2011:  Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy (gay)
  • 2010:  Wildthorn (lesbian)
  • 2009:  Sprout (gay)
  • 2008:  Out of the Pocket (gay)
  • 2007:  Hero (gay)
  • 2006:  Tie:  Full Spectrum (GLBTQ) & Between Mom and Jo (lesbian)
  • 2005:  Swimming in the Monsoon Sea (gay)
  • 2004:  So Hard to Say (gay)
  • 2003:  Boy Meets Boy (gay)
  • 2002:  Letters in the Attic (lesbian)
  • 2001:  Finding H. F. (lesbian & gay)
  • 2000:  Out of the Ordinary (gay, lesbian, trans)
  • 1999:  Hard Love (lesbian)
  • 1998:  Telling Tales out of School (gay, lesbian, bisexual)
  • 1997:  The House You Pass on the Way (lesbian)
  • 1996:  Good Moon Rising (lesbian)
  • 1995:  From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun (lesbian)
  • 1994:  Am I Blue? (gay, lesbian)
  • 1993:  The Cat Came Back (lesbian)

Out of 20 titles, only two deal with transsexual issues, and one is an informative anthology.  Only the two anthologies deal with bisexual issues. The most recent titles (2007-2012), save for Wildthorn, were all written by males.  These are disturbing trends- we always say we need diversity, we need to reflect our teens in what they’re reading because they need to find themselves….  Are they finding themselves in GLBTQI literature for teens? 
Without even addressing the issues of self-censoring or community hurdles of getting books like these onto the shelves, are publishers getting the books out there for booksellers and libraries to purchase?  I don’t think so.

Karen’s note: What I said was, “I had never thought about there being a white, male privilege in GLBTQ lit.”

More on Sex and Sexuality at TLT:

More on Sex and Sexuality on TLT: