Friday, June 10, 2016

On Stories, Sugar, and Being Disinvited

I rarely blog these days, but there is a story I've kept in my head for too long.

For years, I told myself I'd tell this story in public. One day. When I had the time. Or opportunity. Or courage. I don't know why I've held onto it for so long, but this morning, when Isatou Ceesay messaged me a series of photos, I knew it was time to share.

This week's news from Phil Bildner and Kate Messner, plus this past post by Meg Medina, and the photos mentioned above have cumulatively unlocked it. Thank you, Phil, Kate, and Meg, for helping me find courage and make the time. Here goes.

Nearly a decade ago, before I'd even sold my first book, I was working as an advocate for fair trade groups. Isatou Ceesay, the founder of a women's recycling cooperative in Njau, Gambia, was making a trip to the United States. I was tasked with finding her venues where she could share her amazing humanitarian, environmental, and women's empowerment projects, and perhaps solicit a few donations. (Anyone who has worked in the nonprofit or development sectors know how important securing funding can be.)

With the help of friends, I lined up a YWCA women's luncheon talk, as well as a youth group chat at my church and then a similar talk at another church. She arrived to the US, and the first two speaking engagements went well. When I got to the third church, a place I'd never been, things changed. Upon arrival, the Pastor told me she "needed a word" and led me up a narrow staircase to an office inside what I can only describe as a dimly-lit attic.

The Pastor closed the door. I swallowed. She pulled up my blog page on her computer screen, turned to me and said, "What is THIS?"

I blinked. I felt like a fifth-grader who'd been staring out the window and suddenly finds herself being called on by the teacher. What was what?

My confusion must have been obvious, because the Pastor pressed on. She scrolled up and down the page, reading it out loud. It was a post in which I had shared an event link from a local interfaith group. It had the details for an Eid celebration in a nearby city, inviting local people to attend the feast. My stomach began to knot up as I feared where this conversation was going.

"What is this Islamist stuff you promote? Are you Islamist? I just don't know if I can have your presentation in my church today." My chest tightened as she spoke. I felt trapped, unsafe. I feared for Isatou, who was waiting downstairs, alone.

The Pastor faced me directly. "I need to know that you have Jesus Christ in your heart," she said. "Or we can't continue. And I can't ask my congregation to donate anything."

I had a flashback to elementary school—when we learned about how our school, Holy Martyrs of Gorcum, got its name. I wondered what that last moment felt like for those martyrs, being questioned by an angry stranger who lacked the capacity to accept those who were different. I considered standing up and walking out, or giving her a piece of my mind. But downstairs was the leader of a charity I'd become passionate about, which needed the money this church had pledged to donate. I was also in charge of keeping Isatou, a Muslim, safe during her stay in my city. I was young, and wholly intimidated.

I fumbled through responding to the Pastor. I let her know that I was Catholic, and that our presentation contained no religion—Isatou's or mine—and that it was simply a recap of the efforts she was spearheading, especially recycling, helping young mothers, and sending local children to school. I told her that my blog would continue to showcase all kinds of multicultural events in our area, that I didn't help others because they were Christian, and how peace, justice, and acceptance of many cultures and religions were important to me.

I don't remember how many minutes passed, but finally she opened the door. I breathed out. We went downstairs. Isatou gave her presentation (without knowing any of this), and I listened to that Pastor deliver the angriest homily I've ever heard (she even threw VHS video tapes on the ground). After the service, we were given pastries and everyone mingled politely. I came to realize that a majority of those who attended this "newly founded" church were people who were vulnerable or impressionable in some way. Some had mental or physical disabilities, while others had experienced trauma or illness or were living in poverty. Some were either very young or very old. Many shared stories of how they wanted to belong. I began to boil inside at the feeling that this pastor was manipulating them down a path of hatred—both self-hatred and hatred of others.

I took the check, cashed it for Isatou's charity (which ended up sponsoring a few school children), and never looked back. I don't know why I kept this story mostly to myself for so long. Embarrassment, perhaps? This woman, and the kind of church she runs, aren't all that rare where I live. Heck, I'm related to people with similar fears and beliefs. I'm so tired from always being the activist, that sometimes I find ignoring things to be my way of self-care. It's not excusable. It's privilege. I know and acknowledge that.

Although I was only questioned, and not actually disinvited like Kate or Phil or Meg, this story matters because it's communities like mine whose children need to hear the messages of unity, empathy, and universality. Whose children need windows, not only mirrors. Whose children (and adults) need diverse stories and speakers to come and share their work at our libraries.

This morning, Isatou Ceesay messaged me photos. They were of burlap sacks of sugar, and dozens of smiling faces distributing it. She sent captions with a thank you, because I share royalties from One Plastic Bag with the women of Njau. Because of the book's recent successes, families across the village who rarely can afford to buy sugar now have enough for the entire month of Ramadan.

Think about it.

With this round of money, they bought sugar. Something I have four pounds of sitting in my cupboard at any given time. After 18 years of doing important and amazing work for our earth, they're still using their income to buy basic necessities. Every time a school, church, library, or store sells One Plastic Bag, there is a direct benefit for the women.

But there's more—the kids and grown-ups who read it gain something, too. I have witnessed a spark in students who want to help organize clean-ups. There have been individuals who are inspired to make a difference in their own communities, some even starting petitions or seeking new legislation. The fears that hearing an inspiring story about a Muslim woman will brainwash or convert people or that funding her charity might be linked to terrorism are all completely ridiculous. There is so much positivity and progress that comes out of stories like One Plastic Bag—and through books like George, The Seventh Wish, and Yacqui Delgado.

Growing up, I hid the alcoholism that plagued our family. I felt ashamed by it, othered by it, and that it was inappropriate for a family like mine to be in a story—even though I know that there are many, many families in my area who deal with similar situations. As a child, I was never handed a book in which a character or their family dealt with addiction or alcoholism, and still to this day I find myself wanting to erase parts of my childhood, and I'm often unable or unwilling to talk about it.

Even writing this blog post and hitting 'publish' was hard. Will a school disinvite me because of it? I hope not, but it is a concern I share with many authors who increasingly don't get to enjoy a separation of personal life and business that employees in other industries do.

Administrators, teachers, and librarians have a lot of choices to make. I am not here to tell anyone how to do their job. But as my 10-year-old daughter put it yesterday, "It should be up to us, and maybe our parents, to decide what we read. We can handle it. We're not stupid. Reading about tough stuff helps us figure out what to do when we're faced with those things. Or it shows us we're not alone."

Oh, how I love that girl. And how I love children's authors. I wonder if parents, teachers, and administrators understand how much time, thought, and heartstrings are poured into the kinds of books that are winning awards in children's literature today. I hope this post helps people understand how their silence and censorship directly impacts society at large, especially the youngest of our citizens.

Most importantly, I hope this post might show readers how their voice and support can uplift others and lead us all in a more loving, inclusive direction.

Speak up.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

One Plastic Bag named a 2016 Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young Readers

Growing up, I didn't really like social studies (other than geography, thanks to my fifth grade teacher). I considered history boring and full of dates and wars and people I couldn't relate to. 

Today's educational materials, especially books, are changing how history is presented, and who is included. Thank goodness.

It is surprising to reflect on how I felt about social studies growing up, and realizing that now I have two books with Lerner Publishing Group shelved in the social studies section (Whose Hands Are These? and One Plastic Bag).

So today's news—that One Plastic Bag was named a 2016 Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People—is surely a surprise, but also an honor. 

Teachers, please introduce yourself to the wonderful books and authors on this list — they will engage your most reluctant readers or history-haters (like me) and bring nonfiction to life.

Also, please check out the Library of Congress's archived video of Isatou's and my presentation at the Young Reader's Center in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Thanks for a Great Debut Year!

2015 has been a great one, thanks to all of you.

I didn't find much time to blog, but I wanted to make sure everyone who is putting books into kids' hands (my books or ANY books!) deserves a holiday toast. Cheers!

Here's my end-of-year newsletter with some special notes. See you all in 2016.

Click text below for newsletter

Click HERE to access my holiday newsletter

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My new website is up!

Hi everyone!

In case you hadn't popped over to lately, I wanted to let you know that my new "official" author site has gotten a makeover. Kristy and Bryce from Two Nerds, One Dream are the amazing team who put it together.

I'll post something here every now and again, but most of my event updates, news, links, and guides for writers and teachers are over there. There's also a contact page so you can send me an email or invite me to visit your school or workshop. Come have a look-see.

Click to visit - full official author website for Miranda Paul.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cover Reveal!

The cover for Water is Water is done—and it's awesome.

Kudos to the amazing Jason Chin!

I actually got a little sentimental when I posted to my Facebook friends about the book. I said this:

and shared this:

And now I'm off to re-do my website so that a book this beautiful gets the beautiful display and attention it deserves. Watch for my new site in about a month!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Calling all teachers & librarians! #Kidlit Panel in Green Bay, Wisconsin

Hope to see many of you on September 13th in Green Bay!

Crossroads in Kids’ Books: A Conversation with Educators, Parents, Librarians & Authors
Don’t miss this discussion, panel and social event for people involved in getting books 
into kids’ and teenagers’ hands.

panel of teachers, librarians, parents and authors will discuss children’s books today and answer your questions. Following the panel, there will be an informal meet-and-greet session in which librarians, educators, parents, and children's authors and illustrators can network, exchange ideas, and join forces toward initiatives aimed at getting kids and teens excited about reading. Author appearances and signings, too!

If you’re raising kids, teaching kids, or working in literacy or publishing, come network with others in the field on Sep. 13 in Green Bay, WI.

Date: Saturday, Sep. 13, 2014

Time: 9:30 a.m. doors open, 10 a.m. panel11 a.m. social   featuring refreshments, author appearances and signings!

Location: Brown County Central Library, 515 Pine St., Green Bay
FYI: Approach from Madison St. due to construction on Monroe Ave

Cost: FREE

Registration is not required, but appreciated. Email or call 920-471-4168 to RSVP.

Panelists include:
Peter Angilello, Library Media Specialist for the Green Bay Public Schools
Sandy Kallunki, Children's Services Supervisor for Brown County Central Library
Jamie A. Swenson, Janesville librarian and author of Boom, Boom, Boom, Big Rig, If I Were a Dog (to be released Sep. 30)
Patricia Brennan Demuth, Author of nonfiction books for early and middle-grade readers such as Who is Bill Gates?, What Was Ellis Island?, and Snakes.
JoAnna Kloster, Elementary educator with 20+ years’ classroom experience
Miranda Paul, Parent,
former teacher, and children’s author

Author appearances/signings by: 

Julie Mata
Jamie A. Swenson
Patricia Brennan Demuth
Andrea Skyberg
Michael Greer
Stephenie Hovland
Elizabeth Jaeger 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Cover Reveal!

Being an author certainly has its ups and downs, but seeing your cover for the first time— and loving it— is definitely an UP!

I wasn't prepared for how emotional seeing the book cover for the first time could be. When I opened the email from my editor a few weeks ago (yes, I had to wait to share this with you!), the memories of interviewing the women of Gambia about their hardships and successes, coupled with the years of challenges in writing and publishing this book, flooded me.

Elizabeth Zunon has masterfully combined many artistic techniques to bring not only the setting and culture to life, but the women's spirit of piecing together what they could find to create something beautiful.

There is so much I could write about this book, and this cover, but I'm currently traveling (when am I not traveling, right?) it is! The front cover for One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia!

Front Cover: One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia
(Lerner/Millbrook, Feb. 1, 2015)

Although not shown here, the back cover is also something to behold. The team at Millbrook Press (Lerner Publishing) really came up with some stunning designs and the quote on the back (from the real Isatou Ceesay) sums up the power of the story:

"People thought I was too young and that women couldn’t be leaders. I took these things as challenges; they gave me more power. I didn’t call out the problems—I called out solutions." —Isatou Ceesay

Wow, right?

And one more slice of good news—the picture book will be released a little sooner than originally scheduled. It will launch on February 1, 2015. That will give the book plenty of time to work its way into homes, stores, and classrooms before Earth Day. I'll update you when pre-orders are available.

Thanks again to everyone who has been a part of this book's long journey!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Looking for diverse picture books this summer? Try these.

Happy summer!

Here are a few great picture book reads recommended by #WeNeedDiverseBooks team members, supporters, and partners. Each graphic features a well-known book, and a complementary book written by a diverse author or featuring a diverse main character. If you've been looking for great diverse books that have universal appeal, here's a start.

The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign team is posting new graphics EVERY DAY, ALL SUMMER LONG! Don't forget to drop by the tumblr site to see all of the recommendations for diverse YA/young adult, diverse MG / middle grade, and Diverse PB / picture book titles. (And contact the WNDB team or leave a comment below if you have suggestions of your own, too!)

If you liked the classic Ugly Duckling story, try reading The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin, because both show that something that seems unattractive can transform into something stunning.

If you liked Little Chicken's Big Day by Katie Davis (ill. Jerry Davis), you should read A Beach Tail by Karen Lynn Williams, because both books involve an outing in which an explorative youngster is separated from a parent, and returns to safety (with the aid of a repeating refrain).

If you liked Stan and Jan Berenstain's The Berenstain Bears Get in a Fight, you should read Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan (ill. Sophie Blackall) because both books deal skillfully with sibling rivalry, and how siblings who love each other can still fight and upset one another sometimes.

If you liked Beatrix Potter's classic, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, try Chukfi Rabbit's Big, Bad Bellyache by Greg Rodgers (ill. Leslie Widener) because both are about rabbits with appetites that get them into trouble.

If you liked Drew Daywalt & Oliver Jeffers's The Day the Crayons Quit, try reading A Day with No Crayons by Elizabeth Rusch (ill. Chad Cameron), which is also about an artistic character who has to make do without crayons for awhile.

If you liked Mercer Mayer's Just Me and My Puppy, try Kamik: An Inuit Puppy Story by Donald Uluadluak (ill. Qin Leng) because both feature the fun and fury of training a puppy.

Just in time for the World Cup 2014! If you liked Mia Hamm's Winners Never Quit, you'll like Soccer Star by Mina Javaherbin (ill. Renato Alarcao), because both books for young readers involve sporty characters who face setbacks, but learn how to shoot for a worthy goal. (Miranda's note: My kids and I really, really, really loved this book—it's so much more than it seems from the cover!)

If you liked Arnold Lobel's classic Frog and Toad books, you'll love Grace Lin's Ling and Ting books, because these early chapter books feature two similar-looking characters with distinct personalities. The books help children learn through simple, humorous stories of everyday friendship and adventure.

If you liked Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, you'll enjoy The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi, because both of these picture books have characters with beautiful, unique names—but the main characters are still figuring that out!

If you liked Maurice Sendak's classic Where the Wild Things Are, you'll love Tiger in My Soup by Kashmira Sheth (ill. Jeffrey Ebbeler), in which the main character also embraces the ferociousness of his own imagination int he absence of his parents.

If you liked Joanna Cole's I'm a Big Sister, try Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson (ill. Sophie Blackall), because both books discuss the seismic changes that come with new siblings, and reassure kids that they're still special in their parents' eyes.

Please remember to: Check these (and other) diverse books out from your local library, request them if they're not there, and let your local booksellers know how much you loved them by purchasing and/or talking about these books and their authors/illustrators. Be the change!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

On Writing "Multicultural" Literature

Note: This article was first published in 2013 as part of the "Writerly Wisdom" series at Donna Martin's blog entitled, On The Write Track. I made a few adjustments to a few links that were updated, and an occasional word swap. Click here to see the original post.

On Writing "Multicultural" Literature

By Miranda Paul

For those of you who don’t already know, I’ll put it out there: I’m white.

It probably shouldn’t matter, and at the same time, it should and does. Here’s why:

Not every story is mine to tell.

I know that, and I respect that.

That doesn’t mean I only write stories that originate my Midwest hometown, about characters who look like me, grew up like me, talk like me, etc. In fact, those of you who know what I write is far more diverse. But what I write is also based upon experience, research, passion, and personal connection.

Let’s consider this current #kidlit dilemma:

Even though people have been advocating for more “multicultural” literature for decades, we still need more stories about all kinds of people who come from all sorts of backgrounds and live and talk in diverse ways.

Oh, and we need these stories written by authors who are just as diverse.

Back in 1970, award-winning poet Lucille Clifton published two children’s books—The Black BC’s and Some of the Days of Everett Anderson. This certainly wasn’t the beginning of multicultural #kidlit, of course. But I begin with Lucille because she was my first professor of children’s literature, and because she championed the idea that children needed both “mirrors and windows. Mirrors in which they can see themselves, windows in which they can see the world.”

I was blessed to be initiated into the craft of writing for children by such a kind, strong, and gifted woman. Her books offered positive, contemporary portraits of African Americans without racial stereotyping. Her books are wrapped in authenticity, humanity, and universal truth.

Lucille’s example of consciously giving children access to “windows and mirrors” stuck with me as I headed off to teach in West Africa later that year. There, my students had a significant lack of books that accurately depicted individual, contemporary African settings and characters, and I’ve been working over the last few years to build libraries with relevant books. I also married interracially and when we had children, this idea became very personal. Most picture books were “window stories” for my children. Far fewer were “mirrors”, with characters who looked like or had families like our own. Thus, I’m always on the lookout for great “multicultural” books (although most times, the separation and separate-shelving of that label irks me) that depict biracial families, children with grandparents living abroad, immigrant parents, a second language in the home, West African and Caribbean cultures, etc.

Let me now get back to an earlier point, about not every story being mine to tell.

Although I’ve written several stories that are classified as “multicultural”, they’ve mostly been stories I have a personal connection to and resulted from experience, research, and collaboration with people within the culture.

There are a lot of underrepresented cultures or lifestyles that interest me, and I see a need for stories about them in the publishing market. But ultimately, at the end of the day, each story should be about a character, in a specific place, at a specific time. That means DETAILS. I am not always the best person for writing those details, especially if the culture is one I’ve not experienced firsthand.

The thing is, not only do children deserve stories that contain “mirrors,” but the author bio or photo needs to reflect diversity as well. Growing up, I never got the chance to actually meet anyone who wrote for a living, and the lack of a model seriously affected my confidence that writing for a career was even possible.

So when I got invited to a school with other authors, I noticed immediately all four of us were white women with blond hair and blue eyes. I had to question what unintentional message this was sending to the kids. Perhaps our lack of diversity meant nothing on a conscious level. Maybe the kids didn’t notice. But what if there was some sort of subconscious message at work? Don’t they deserve to see authors who look like them, in order to ignite a sense of possibility that they, too, can be authors?

I think it’s extremely important for authors who are not of color to remain encouraging and supportive of the organizations who are consciously making an effort to address the call for diversity in children’s books. I am thrilled that publishers such as Lee and Low are hosting a New Voices contest for authors of color and it’s still open to entries until September 30. The Coretta Scott King award and Pura Belpré multicultural children’s book awards are critical in realizing visions where all children can find both windows and mirrors in books.

Whatever your race or ethnicity (or diverse experience!), don’t feel as though multicultural literature means only writing about your own heritage. And it's not about making the culture or setting more important than the story or character. At the same time, don’t feel as though a marketing need or lack of books on a subject qualifies you to write that particular book. If you feel like an outsider, your narration will seem distanced and inauthentic, and your reader won’t have access to a true window or mirror.

Writing multicultural literature is a daunting task, but there are individuals and organizations out there to help you. Mira Reisberg at Hummingbird Literary has made it a point to seek out multicultural stories, and a few agents at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency and Full Circle Literary mention a desire to see multicultural submissions on their websites. (Addendum: Foreword Literary has also directly tweeted me stating they are committed to a diverse range of authors and stories.) The Highlights Foundation (hey, I’m there right now!) can help you find out which stories might be yours to tell, and how to present authentic and diverse characters and settings. In fact, they have an upcoming workshop called Writing Across Boundaries (update: I don't see an upcoming workshop specifically on diversity / writing across boundaries retreat this year, like there was at the time I posted this last year.)

Remember, if you have the passion to write a multicultural story, honestly address your bias or fear of writing across boundaries and why you're writing it (hopefully not just because you think a diverse book will sell or you wanted to try something new). Keep in mind the child who deserves that window to another world or a mirror of her own. And don't forget to go way beyond Internet research. Go immerse yourself in that world.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Come Visit Me in My Studio!

Come on in to my office!

Artist Andrea Skyberg hosted me on her Studio Tours Blog recently. I loved being able to share my space. My husband built the studio/office for me, and I'm eternally grateful to him for being so thoughtful and handy. I use this space every day.

Here's the link to the tour:

Friday, May 2, 2014

List of Diverse Picture Books - #WeNeedDiverseBooks

While there's still a severe need for more books by and about many underrepresented people, one focus of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign is to make readers, book buyers, librarians, teachers, and the general public aware of some of the great diverse books already on the shelves.

This "just-getting-started" list of picture books includes books that are by or about diverse people/characters. They range from board books for babies to longer books for upper elementary readers. They are quite varied, but all come recommended from various voices within this campaign.

Please add your favorite title to this list, so we can make it even longer! 

YOU are part of this campaign, too! 

(Comments Section Below). 

And don’t forget to buy these books or check them out from your local library.

(P.S. I'm planning to break these down into subgroups to give you more information about each one, since they've all made this list for varied reasons and are for different young age groups. Will re-post after everyone shares their titles and make one really comprehensive list of diverse picture books!)

  • All the World - Liz Garton Scanlon, Marla Frazee
  • A Beach Tail - Karen Lynn Williams, Floyd Cooper
  • Grace for President - Kelly DiPucchio, LeUyen Pham
  • Lottie Paris and the Best Place - Angela Johnson, Scott M. Fischer
  • Tiger in My Soup - Kashmira Sheth, Jeffrey Ebbeler
  • The Other Side - Jacqueline Woodson, E.B. Lewis
  • The Runaway Wok - Ying Chang Compestine, Sebastia Serra
  • Lola's Fandango - Anna Witte, Micha Archer, the Amador Family
  • Maria Had a Little Llama / Maria Tenia una Llamita - Angela Dominguez
  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind - William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer, Elizabeth Zunon
  • Redwoods - Jason Chin
  • Mississippi Morning - Ruth Vander Zee, Floyd Cooper
  • Ghandi: A March to the Sea, Alice B. McGinty, Thomas Gonzalez
  • A Day with No Crayons - Elizabeth Rusch, Chad Cameron
  • GOAL! - Mina Javaherbin, A.G. Ford
  • A Picture Book of Cesar Chavez - David A. Adler, Michael S. Adler, Marie Olofsdotter
  • The Mangrove Tree - Susan L. Roth & Cindy Trumbore
  • Teammates - Peter Golenbock, Paul Bacon
  • Sosu's Call - Meshack Asare
  • Mary Walker Wears the Pants - Cheryl Harness, Carlo Molinari
  • Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match - Monica Brown, Sara Palacios
  • Words with Wings - Nikki Grimes
  • More, More, More, Said the Baby - Vera B. Williams
  • Seven Spools of Thread - Angela Shelf Medaris
  • Seaside Dream - Janet Costa Bates, Lambert Davis
  • Lama Salama - Patricia MacLachlan, Elizabeth Zunon
  • The Ugly Vegetables - Grace Lin
  • The Magic Brush - Kat Yeh, Huy Voun Lee
  • It Jes' Happened - Don Tate, R. Gregory Christie
  • 14 Cows For America - Carmen Agra Deedy, Thomas Gonzalez
  • Mama Miti - Kadir Nelson
  • The Metal Man - Aaron Reynolds, Paul Hoppe
  • Four Feet, Two Sandals - Karen Lynn Williams, Khadra Mohammed, Doug Chayka
  • Parrots Over Puerto Rico - Susan Roth, Cindy Trumbore
  • Allah to Z: An Islamic Alphabet Book - Sam'n Iqbal, Lina Safar
  • The Snowy Day - Ezra Jack Keats
  • Three Wishes - Lucille Clifton, Michael Hays
  • Gravity - Jason Chin
  • Ruth and the Green Book - Calvin Alexander Ramsey, Gwen Strauss, Floyd Cooper

  • TEN LITTLE FINGERS AND TEN LITTLE TOES - by MemFox/illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
  • MOMMY, MAMA, and ME by Leslea Newman/illustrated by Carol Thompson
  • GLOBAL BABIES by the Global Fund for Children
  • BUNNY DAYS  by Tao Nyeu
  • THE KEEPING QUILT by Patricia Polacco
  • 10000 DRESSES by Marcus Ewert
  • HE GRANDDAUGHTER NECKLACE by Sharon Dennis Wyeth and Bagram Ibatoulline
  • THIS IS THE ROPE- Jacqueline Woodson
  • LITTLE NIGHT by Yuyi Morales
  • Arthur Levine and Julian Hector's MONDAY IS ONE DAY
  • RAINBOW STEW by Cathryn Falwell
  • KING FOR A DAY by Rukhsana Khan, illus. by Christiane Kromer
  • I KNOW THE RIVER LOVES ME/ YO SÉ QUE EL RIO ME AMA by Maya Christina Gonzalez
  • BABY BORN by Anastasia Suen
  • SUMMONING THE PHOENIX by Emily Jiang, illus. by April Chu
  • HOW FAR DO YOU LOVE ME? by Lulu Delacre
  • BABY RATTLESNAKE by Te Ata and Lynn Moroney, illus. by Mira Reisberg
  • IN DADDY'S ARMS I AM TALL: African Americans Celebrating Fathers by various poets, illus. by Javaka Steptoe
  • MARISOL MCDONALD AND THE CLASH BASH by Monica Brown, illus. by Sara Palacios
  • GRACIAS~ THANKS by Pat Mora, illus. by John Parra

  • Marisol McDonald and the Clash Bash - Monica Brown, Sara Palacios
  • Niño Wrestles the World - Yuyi Morales
  • Off to the Sweet Shores of Africa - Uzo Unobagha, Julia Cairns
  • The Sandwich Swap - Queen Rania AlAbdullah, Kelly DiPucchio, Tricia Tusa
  • Bread is for Eating - David and Phillis Gershator, Emma Shaw-Smith
  • Freedom Summer - Deborah Wiles, Jerome Lagarrigue
  • Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant's Tale
  • Grandfather's Journey - Allan Say
  • Blackout - John Rocco
  • One Green Apple - Eve Bunting, Ted Lewin
  • No, Baby, No! - Grace Nichols, Eleanor Taylor
  • Seeds of Change - Sonia Lynn Sadler, Jen Cullerton Johnson
  • Monsoon Afternoon - Kashmira Sheth, Yoshiko Jaeggi
  • Flower Garden - Eve Bunting, Kathryn Hewitt
  • Whose Toes are Those? - Jabari Asim, LeUyen Pham
  • Corduroy - Don Freeman
  • Amazing Grace - Mary Hoffman, Caroline Birch
  • Ellington Was Not a Street - Ntozake Shange, Kadir Nelson
  • Whoever You Are - Mem Fox, Leslie Staub
  • The Very Inappropriate Word - Jim Tobin, Dave Coverly
Again - please join in the conversation by leaving a comment below with a title that isn't on this list so I can make it more comprehensive. And take action by buying diverse books tomorrow. Take a photo of the books you've bought and post on Twitter.

We're all in this together.

USER ADDED UPDATES: Added 5/2/14 - 3:35 PM CDT (Keep 'em coming, guys!)

Arturo and the Navidad Birds - Anne Broyles (English and Spanish)
Makeup Mess -Robert Munsch 
Zoom -Robert Munsch 
Smelly Socks - Robert Munsch 
Something Good -Robert Munsch
Class Clown - Robert Munsch 
Up, Up, Down - Robert Munsch 
Max Found Two Sticks - Brian Pinkney
10, 9, 8 - Molly BangLing and Ting: Not Exactly the Same - Grace Lin
In Our Mothers' House - Patricia Polacco
Frida by Jonah Winter
Diego by Jonah Winter
Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto
Cora Cooks Pancit - Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore, Kristi Valiant
The Legend of the BlueBonnet by Tommie di Paola

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

#WeNeedDiverseBooks - Campaign May 1-May 3

Please don't ask us
(with surprised eyes)
where on Earth and how we met,
as though we are a phenomenon.
We are not the only family
that looks like this.
P.S. My 5-year-old would love it
if strangers stopped touching
his hair.
There's been a big conversation going on about diversity in publishing lately.

Regardless of what you look like, which religion you practice (or don't practice), or the country you live in or come from, this is not just an issue for 'people of color' or 'minority' authors.

This is an EVERYONE issue.

Diversity builds understanding and empathy. 

Our world could use more understanding and empathy.

What my daughter
is reading right now
I hope I've got your interest. I'm sure you know that this issue has had me interested for awhile (heck, I'm part of the group that got the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks started - and you can meet all the great people here).

There are a lot of readers, writers, teens, parents, kids, and teachers on board who really see the genuine need for books to have both "windows and mirrors."

The question is: What do we do about the lack of diversity in children's books? Or, how do we help boost the visibility of some already great books out there on the market - ones that aren't getting the promotion they deserve?

Well, first, let's make some noise.

I hope you'll participate in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks discussion. It's already begun unofficially (Trending on Twitter! Veronica Roth, Laurie Halse Anderson, and John Green have tweeted in!), but we have official events going on May 1 - May 3, 2014.

Here's the site where you can learn a whole lot more:

P.S. I promise a longer post on my thoughts on diversity and #kidlit when I get a chance to slow down and write them out.

Thank you to authors, agents, and publishers
who are putting books like these on the shelves.

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