"I’m on a picture walk right now," said a young girl at the African American Children’s Book Fair Saturday afternoon as she paged through a book with a jaguar on the front. "That’s where I just look at the pictures to see what book has the best ones."
Judging by the cover aside, she was one of hundreds of African American kids lining up around the block — literally, the line to get in extended nearly a complete block out the door of the Community College of Philadelphia’s gym down 17th Street — to meet authors and buy books that are for them and about them.
C.J. Farley, author of Gameworld, a YA fantasy novel due out on Feb. 4, said his book aims to give kids a different take on fantasy — one in which people of color are actually there.
"I love The Hobbit, I love Narnia, but when I see the movies and when I see no people of color as the heroes, I think to myself, ‘Are we fantasized out of existence? Is it a fantasy not to see us?’ I want to show [black children] as the heroes of their own stories,” he said.
Pam Tuck, author of As Fast as Words Could Fly, a historical fiction picture book about school desegregation, and Marion T. Lane, author of Patriots of African Descent in the Revolutionary War, also a historical fiction, both called the book fair “empowering” for the children there.
"They are able to read books that they can relate to," Tuck said. "The authors and illustrators that they see, they too can become one of those."
Millicent Bland, who brought her children to the fair for the first time, said it was overwhelming to see how many books — from romance fiction for teens to Gabrielle Douglas’ second memoir — had a focus on people of color.
"It’s encouraging," she said. "As an African-American parent, I want our children to explore authors just like them."
The little girl on the picture walk (there was hardly a moment to catch her name) did add, after breathlessly declaring how much she “loved to read,” that she would be spreading the literacy love around.
"I’m gonna go buy this book for my sister, bye!" she yelled as she ran away.
For more, check out theafricanamericanchildrensbookproject.org.
This mother that I saw, her daughter was about seven, reading The Mighty Miss Malone. … The book has a beautiful cover with a little black girl on it. And her daughter is reading it, and I could see she was totally into it, like in the second chapter already. And I was just about to go over to her and say, ‘That’s a great book,’ when her mother came over and took it from her hands and put it back, and said, ‘No honey, that book is not for you.’ And I’ve seen that happen over and over again. And you have to wonder at the message the kids are taking away from that. The by who can’t read a princess or fairy book. The girl who can’t read a pirate book. What are the messages you’re telling? It’s not just race, it’s gender, it’s sexuality, it’s religion.”
Back by popular demand, in color!
The unbelievably fantastic work of Tina Kugler
Attanya: #WeNeedDiverseBooks because I love science fiction and fantasy books, but I’m tired of authors treating dragons and robots and magic as more plausible than black and brown characters
Jennifer: #WeNeedDiverseBooks because… when I was 13 a white girl told me it was selfishthat all of the protagonists in my stories were Latina because she “just can’t relate to nonwhite characters.” She made me feel guilty for writing about people like me.
Aiesha: #WeNeedDiverseBooks because…Black Girls are more than sidekicks or “sassy, ghetto friend”
Facts and Figures About Race/Ethnicity in YA and Children’s Lit:
- 88% of the books on the 2013 Publisher’s Weekly YA Bestsellers were about white protagonists
- 93% of the authors on the 2013 Publisher’s Weekly YA Bestsellers were white authors
- 85% of the books on the 2014 Young Adult Library Services Association’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list were about white protagonists
- 90% of the authors on the 2014 Young Adult Library Services Association’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list were white authors
- 91% of the authors on the 2013 New York Times’s Bestseller Lists for YA and Children’s Lit were white authors.
- According to the 2012 Cooperative Children’s Book Center, only 3.3% of books were about African-American protagonists; only 2.1% were about Asian and Pacific Islander protagonists; only 1.5% were about Latinx protagonists; and only 0.6% were about Native American protagonists. That means over 90% of children’s books surveyed were about white protagonists.
From the Ferguson City Council meeting tonight
Nah, they just got older and got jobs as your local law enforcement and government officials.
They raised children and grandchildren who think exactly like them.
And the children and grandchildren of these terrorists are continuing their work, giving us hell on our jobs and in college courses, even to our babies on the playground.
I did this radio show and the deejay asks me, ‘What if you woke up tomorrow and you were beautiful?’
What do you mean ‘what if’?
He said, ‘What if you woke up and you were blonde and you had blue eyes and you were 5’11 and you weighed 100 pounds and you were beautiful? What would you do?’
And I said, ‘Well, I probably wouldn’t get up ‘cause I’d be too weak to stand.’
And I felt very sorry for him, ‘cause if that’s the only kind if person that you think is beautiful, you must not see very much beauty in the world.
And I think everybody is beautiful. And if you don’t think that I am beautiful, you are missing out. Because I am so beautiful.”
Margaret Cho: Beautiful (via justanothersinger)
I want this tattooed on the inside of everyone’s eyelids.
EVERYONE KEEP TURNING THE EFF UP!!!
Sheeeeeeeeeet! Damn y’all.