It is a great joy and honor to interview Ari
, aka MissAttitude
. Ari is a high school student, as well as founder of the popular blog Reading in Color
and an amazing reviewer of MG and YA multicultural books.
Ari, thank you for joining us today! What prompted you to start Reading in Color? How did you hear the “calling,” if I may ask?
I decided to start Reading in Color after I discovered the wonderful world of teen books blogs. However, all these great book blogs rarely reviewed books about people of color (POC). I was interested in the titles they spotlighted but I also wanted to see young adult books about people who looked like me; I wanted to learn about different cultures. So I figured I was going to have do something about it, I couldn’t just wait for someone to have a similar idea. Once you find your passion, act on it.
In average how many books do you read per week?
During the school year I read about 1-3 books a week. When not in school, I read at least 7 (a new one everyday).
How do you make your selection?
First, I just wander around the bookstore or library, looking for books with POC on the covers. That’s usually a rare thing though, so then I look for books I may have heard of from other blogs or books by authors that I’m already familiar with. I try to read books with POC that I’m interested in, but I also know that all readers do not have the same tastes, so I’m interested in going outside my preferred tastes (for example, I recently reviewed Perfect Shot, a romance novel for teens; it was very cute and I liked it a lot even though I’d never read a SimonRomantic Comedy novel before).
I’ll give any YA book with POC a chance, because authors of color get so little exposure, I don’t want to be picky and say I’ll only review historical fiction or realistic fiction, etc. We don’t have enough options of books with POC in YA to be that particular in our reading tastes yet, although I don’t think anyone should close themselves off to a particular genre. You never know if you may end up liking it.
You have an elaborate grading system. Could you, please, tell us more about it?
I wouldn’t say that it’s elaborate, I think it’s pretty straightforward. It’s out of 5.
1/5 A disappointment, don’t waste your time reading it.
1.5/5 There was one or two little things that made the book ok. still not worth your time.
2/5 A hit or miss.
2.5/5 Still hit or miss, but if you see it, you may want to give it a chance.
3/5 I liked it and I recommend it if you’re not looking for amazingness 🙂 (i.e. don’t have too high expectations)
3.5/5 It was really good, I’d recommend it, but again don’t have too high expectations.
4/5 I highly recommend the book, it was excellent.
4.5/5 It was a great book. Only a few little things kept it from being fantastic.
5/5 A MUST READ.
How does one become a book reviewer? Any advice for the neophyte?
Oh wow, I’m giving advice. Well I would say that as long as you love books you can become a reviewer. However, I would recommend you provide something a little different from all the other book blogs out there, because there are a lot and you want yours to stick out a little or at least offer something different, cater to a group (i.e. maybe devote your blog to reviews about graphic novels or something, have a wide range of reads, but specialize in something). Also, I think every reviewer faces a burnout sometimes. Don’t be discouraged if you just don’t feel like reviewing. Write a blog post about something else or just take a break completely for a bit from blogging. We readers understand 🙂
The url of the blog says, “Black Teens Read 2.” Is there an underlying statement? If yes, would you elaborate? 🙂
There is an underlying statement. People have the assumption that black teenagers don’t read, but we do. I was tired of Black teenagers calling other Black teenagers “oreos” and “acting white” just because they liked to read, so I created the URL to say that yes we do read and so what! I’m still Black because I love to read, in fact I’m even more Black because I read books about my beautiful culture and I appreciate it. Often the people calling you an “oreo” don’t even know what makes Black so Beautiful, they haven’t discovered the beauty of Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Octavia Butler, Ralph Ellison, Walter Mosley, Langston Hughes, etc.
I do worry sometimes that it might exclude some people but I’ve decided not to worry about it. I would check out any blog with the URL Latino teens read 2 or Asian, native American, etc. People shouldn’t be intimidated by my URL or any URL that may at first seem to cater to only one ethnic group, check it out first.
The following question is totally unfair, but I’ll ask anyway:
you’re stuck on an island alone, without a cell phone or your favorite TV show to distract you. What are the three books that I see in your hands?
Oh no!! That’s one of my worst fears, I can’t even watch Lost and I really didn’t like Lord of the Flies. For some reason, the idea of being on a deserted island scares me to death, haha. I would say (besides the Bible)
1. Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher-Amazing book that blends humor with inspiration. I would need to be laughing if I was all alone!
I feel like I always include these books (because they’re all amazing) so I’m going to throw in a new one
4. Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon-Ai Ling kicks major butt and her bravery would be a great comfort and sometimes she’s all alone too.
If people would like you to review their books, what are the guidelines?
It needs to be YA or MG about PEOPLE OF COLOR. I’m completely baffled when I get emails from authors/publishing houses asking me to review a book with an all-white cast. It’s beyond annoying, it shows that the person hasn’t even read my blog. Don’t just email a reviewer and not take the time to least learn their name and what they will and will not review. Don’t waste my time or yours.
I do “off-color” reviews but those either
a) have a significant secondary character who is a POC (like in Ten Cents a Dance, about a Polish dancing hall girl but she becomes close friends with an African American trumpet player and some Filipino guys. It’s a really good book that details the racism not just African Americans, but Filipinos faced in Chicago and other places in America) or
b) written by an author of color (although to be perfectly honest, I would rather read a book by a white author that writes about POC than read a book by an author of color about white people).