Happy Holidays: A Few Favorites from 2013

Hello everyone!

It’s been a long time since the last post, but I’m hoping a time well spent, with good, promising seeds planted. A few people, who happen to not have a Facebook account, asked me how they could keep in touch and “follow” my progress. The answer is this blog, and my Twitter account. To answer some of the questions I’ve been asked, here is what has happened since the last post, which still reflects my current life: work, writing every day, editing a newsletter for Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators with Beth Hull, and school. Little sleep but happiness nonetheless, and gratitude for the opportunity to tend with passion to all the areas mentioned.

I’m curious: What were your highlights this year? What is one literary event, one piece of information that you wish would go viral because it’s so good it’s making a difference?
Here are some of the news or discoveries that gave me hope in 2013, in bullet points:

2013 in retrospect – click on the links for more info

Good News
* Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children’s Book Award 2013. I wasn’t aware of that award until recently. Though set in the United Kingdom and not in America, it positively adds to the awards created to promote awareness on the great multicultural stories told and published, and I hope it does so in America as well.
* “In March 2013, First Book purchased $1 million worth of culturally-diverse content from two publishers: Harper Collins and Lee & Low Books. Those purchases, which Kirkus Reviews called a “colossal commitment,” were unprecedented for a nonprofit, and served as the first major step in creating a new market for multicultural children’s literature.” – See more at: http://www.firstbook.org/first-book-story/media-center/press-room/288-the-stories-for-all-project-first-ever-market-solution-to-the-lack-of-diversity-in-kids-books#sthash.KCXUrSi2.dpuf
*Literary agent Barry Goldblatt created a scholarship for children’s book writers of color: “Vermont College of Fine Arts and Barry Goldblatt Literary Announce The Angela Johnson Scholarship.”

A few favorite articles
* The Horn Book: Talking About Race in Children’s Literature: Commentary and Resources.
* Tina Kügler‘s Illustration of Equality, served with sobering numbers about cultural diversity in children’s books, and links to additional helpful articles.
* npr.org: As Demographics Shift, Kids’ Books Stay Stubbornly White
* The Guardian: More calls for books about non-white children
* NBC Latino: No Latino children’s literature in annual book list – again
* Posts by award-winning publisher and activist Lee & Low Books. If you’re not already familiar with their blog, here’s a link to wet your socio-cultural appetite: Literary Agents Discuss the Diversity Gap in Publishing
* Ellen Oh: Why Being a POC Author Sucks Sometimes
* Series of posts on Courage, highlighting several writers, by librarian Edi Campbell. Here’s a sample: About Courage #3: Margarita Engle
* From Soraya Chemali, of Huffington Post: What Does it Mean that Most Children’s Books Are Still About White Boys?
* This article by a UK teacher, which I believe also applies beyond the British borders: “You can’t do that! Stories have to be about White people”

Book Lists
* The Birthday Party Pledge has a list of books with culturally diverse contents, categorized by interest. It is also a great cause to support.
* CBC Diversity’s book lists, which include: 50 multicultural books every child should know, 30 multicultural books every teen should know, 101 ways to combat prejudice, and more.
* New York Public Library’s 100 Great Children’s Books of the past 100 years. Congratulations to all books creators, notably these ones, for making it to the list – I’m so proud and excited for the groundbreaking meaning behind these nominations, for your books being so sought after, and for your hard work being celebrated: Mitali Perkins, Rucksana Khan, Lucía M. Gonzalez, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Yuyi Morales, Jerry Pinkney, Jacqueline Woodson, Ed Young, just to quote a few.
* I’m adding the following list because multicultural books can also be found via publisher’s catalogs, and because that list might be helpful to several writers and illustrators as well: Small Presses of Color, with thanks to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, Scool of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison for putting that wonderful resource together.

Causes You might be happy to know about
* Books+Water/Waterbridge Outreach: this is bittersweet to blog about. Bitter because the amazing multicultural literary non-profit PaperTigers had to stop its activities. I learned So much from their work over the years, and connected, thanks to them, with amazing books lovers and writers from around the world. I miss their website, but it is still available for everyone to consult, and serves as an archive haven. Sweet because the PaperTigers team is now focusing all its energy on bringing more multicultural books to undeserved communities, as well as drinkable water – note: the lack of drinkable water in several continents is the number one cause of death, and prevents many children from attending school, among causing other problems such as wars. Please check out their website, support that great cause if you can, and spread the word. For more information on Books+Water/Waterbridge Outreach, visit www.waterbridgeoutreach.org. Warm thank you.
* First Book. You heard the good news about First Book’s purchase of 1 million dollars worth of multicultural books. Hear this too: Publisher Random House will match 3 times any donations you make to First Book to support that great cause. I thank Media Bistro’s Galley Cat for the information. Read more about it here, please spread the word as well. This is good until December 31.
* Ventana Sierra, founded by bestselling author Ellen Hokpins. Foster care children are often left to fend for themselves once they turn 18. Ventana Sierra thrives to offer them a place to live, while setting up with a mentor with whom they learn a craft that will allow them to make a living – via internships, etc. Ventana Sierra accepts donations, but also raises money via an online store and advanced writers workshops, the next one taking place taking during the weekend of June 6, 2014. For more information on Ventana Sierra, visit http://ventanasierra.org. To learn more about the workshops, click here.

Last minute deadlines you might be interested in:
* SCBWI’s SPARK Award, recognizing and celebrating excellence in children’s books self-published or non-traditionally published in 2013. You need to be a SCBWI member to apply.
* Call for submission for Kaleidoscope, a Diverse YA Fantasy and Science Fiction anthology, published by Twelfth Planet Press.

Wishes for 2014
More buzz, a deeper connection between readers and the creators of culturally diverse books, continued smart marketing of said books, wishing more writers, publishing houses and publicists to make the most of the abundance of the social platforms to spread the word, enthusiasm and passion for kids books with characters from ALL walk of life.

Wishing you a safe, warm and inspiring holiday season,


Update 12/28/13
* From Inside ‘A Fuse #8 Production,’ by Elizabeth Bird: 2014 Kids of Color: Things Are Looking Up

Let’s The Party Begin: The Lion & The Mouse, by Jerry Pinkney!

Hello, everyone! 🙂

I’m very excited to write this post, because today marks the beginning of something special: MR celebration party of the ALA Youth Media Winners!

As written in Multiculturalism Rocks! brief introduction, the blog celebrates multicultural books and the people who make it happen. Any award won by a multicultural book is therefore a cause of great joy! MR will celebrate all the winners one book at the time, throughout the year. So stop by anytime, you never know if you’ll stumble upon a party!

And without further ado, let’s open the celebration with a version of an Aesop Tale, winner of the Caldecott Medal (most distinguished American picture book for children):

THE LION & THE MOUSE, by award wining author and illustrator Jerry Pinkney.

Here is a review by Elizabeth Bird, available on the School Library Journal website.

Click here for an interview of Jerry Pinkney with Sally Lodge, of Publishers Weekly.

In some countries, like in Cameroon–Africa, a party generally lasts days (yep, you read well. Days of dancing, and singing, and eating together and being happy). Guess what we’re going to do here? 😀

When does the party start?

7 days, until Feb. 1 included.

What can I bring?
Your happy self! 🙂

How do we proceed?
It’s simple. Have you read the book? Share your favorite moments, i.e. the joy it brought, the questions it raised…In summary, let us know why you like it! If you haven’t yet, check it as soon as possible in local bookstore or library! 🙂

Ready? You get to make a difference in a child’s life, especially in a child in crisis. For every 5 comments left on this Celebration page, a new copy of the Lion & the Mouse will be donated to a literacy program for children. Only one entry per person will be taken into account. All the copies will go to the same organization.

The Recipients
The books will be donated to the Multicultural Writers Guild, Inc (MWG), for inner city schools in the South Bronx, in New York. Here’s a statement from MWG’s website:

“Multicultural Writers Guild, Incorporated (MWG, Inc.) was founded in 2001. MWG, Inc. is a literary arts & entertainment organization whose primary focus is to promote literacy among economically disadvantaged communities.”

In addition, Multiculturalism Rocks! will make a donation to Libraries Without Borders, a non-profit helping build libraries, and already established schools and libraries in New Orleans, Haiti, and in developing nations affected by natural disasters. The organization is currently focused on helping not only the victims in Haiti, but on making sure that Haiti cultural legacy makes it through the tragedy that hit the island. Please visit their website: http://www.librarieswithoutborders.org/

You already know this, but I’ll say it nevertheless: every time you comment on a blog focused on books about POC (people of color), you make a difference. You do not only encourage the blogger, but most importantly you show your support to writers of color and their work, and to all authors who feature POC in their art or writing. So be vocal. Visit the sites listed in the blog roll. Your comments matter and make a difference. 🙂

I’m looking for an acronym for this event. CAWMCB–Celebration of Award Winning Multi-Cultural Books doesn’t seem right, does it? In addition to following the above guidelines, the reader coming up with the best acronym will receive a ‘surprise’ copy of one of Mr. Pinkney’s books! The acronym will be used to create a banner for Multiculturalism Rocks! celebrations event.

Now, let’s the party begin! Check the Lion and the Mouse at your local bookstore or library if you haven’t read it yet, and come back to comment!:D

Have a wonderful week,

Note: Libraries Without Borders was found thanks to the ALA’s page on books donation programs.
Updated 01/27/2010 to add info about the Recipients.

Update 02/13/2010: 3 books have been donated to Libraries Without Borders. To read more about the outcome of the celebration, click here! 🙂