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Finding Diverse Books

Over the past few years, I have been working to increase the diversity of my school library’s collection, with an eye towards the ultimate goal of having the books on our shelves reflect the reality of the society in which we live.  While I use traditional review sources, I have also found it helpful to explore online resources specifically intended to review and publicize diverse books.  A few weeks ago, as part of a conference presentation, I decided to make this handy infographic of the sites I find most helpful. Hopefully you might find it useful too! (For active links to the websites, please scroll to the bottom of this post.)

Booklist for Choose Privacy Week

Privacy, a cornerstone of library service, is something that teens can often take for granted, especially online. Choose Privacy Week is May 1-7, and is a time when we can highlight privacy’s importance in our lives, and what is at stake with the possible corrosion to one’s personal privacy for and with our teen patrons. Teens should understand that privacy is their civil right, and user agreements and data collection are edging on those rights.

Following is a list of books and resources that can engage teens in discussion and/or contemplation of what protecting their privacy can mean for them.

Interview: Joy McCullough on Blood Water Paint

McCullough’s debut novel, which garnered critical acclaim and a Morris nomination in 2018 deftly fictionalizes the true story of a young woman named Artemisia Gentileschi. Gentileschi made waves as a 17th century baroque painter, as well as the first woman to try her rapist in court. McCullough’s beautiful novel is told in lyrical verse, framing Antemisia’s difficult story with the greek chorus of two strong biblical woman, who also happened to be her favorite painting subjects.

Where did you first come across Artemisia’s story? Did you immediately know it was a story you wanted to shine light on? I discovered Artemisia many moons ago as a passing reference in a Margaret Atwood novel. I’d never heard of her, so I went searching. When I learned about her story, I was outraged I hadn’t heard of her before. The transcripts from her rapist’s trial still exist, and I read those with horror over how much hasn’t changed in how we treat women and sexual violence. I was immediately obsessed and wanted more people to know her story.

Booklist: Asexuality and Aromanticism in Young Adult Fiction

In February 2016, the YALSA Hub published a booklist, Asexuality in Young Adult Fiction, as a response to teens wanting to see this kind of representation in books. It was a hard list to create as there were very few books at the time with any mention of asexuality or aromanticism, and most of the representation in the books listed is minimal at best. In that list, most representation was of side characters, or the word asexual was never explicitly mentioned. Over the past three years, some exciting books for teens have been published that center the Ace/Aro experience.

Asexuality in YA Fiction

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2020) Nominees Round Up, March 22 Edition

The Disasters by M. K. England
HarperTeen / HarperCollins
Publication Date: December 18, 2018
ISBN: 978-0062657671 

Nax and three other students are returning to Earth after being kicked out of Ellis Station Academy when a terrorist group attacks the school. Framed for the crime, the four must work together to discover who is really behind the attack, uncovering a conspiracy that threatens the lives of all those in the space colonies.

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2020) Nominees Round Up, March 19 Edition

My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life by Rachel Cohn
Hyperion / Disney
Publication Date: December 18, 2018
ISBN: 978-1368008396

On her 16th birthday, American foster teen Elle Zoellner is informed that her never-before-discussed father is a successful Japanese businessman who has sent for her to come live with him in Tokyo. Elle must face her past by meeting the father she never knew she had, while also contending with her mother who abandoned her to opioid addiction and is now in prison. What’s more, she has to adjust to the differences between Japanese and American life while living in a luxurious hotel and navigating an elite international high school.

2019 Teens’ Top Ten Giveaway Now Open!

Teens' Top TenIn celebration of the upcoming announcement of the 2019 Teens’ Top Ten nominees on April 11, the Thursday of National Library Week, we announced today the opening of applications for our Teens’ Top Ten Giveaway! 50 sets of the 2019 Teens’ Top Ten nominees will be given away to libraries in need with funding generously provided by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation! Eligible applicants can apply for the giveaway via the online form now. Please note, applicants must be personal YALSA members and be within 20 miles of a Dollar General store. Other eligibility requirements also apply. Learn more and apply by April 15.

#ALAMW19 Recap: Read-a-Likes for The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor, 2019 Nonfiction Award Finalist

The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor
Image courtesy of Penguin Random House

A finalist for YALSA’s 2019 Nonfiction Award, The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor is the memoir of the third woman and first Latina to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. Beginning with her childhood in the South Bronx, this book invites readers into Justice Sotomayor’s relationship with her family, her insecurities, and her dreams with humor and encouragement. If you enjoyed this memoir and are looking for more, try one of these readalikes.





#ALAMW19 Recap: Interviewing Don Brown, author of The Unwanted, 2019 Nonfiction Award Winner

If you were living in a refugee camp and met a non-refugee stranger in need, would you be willing to give them the coat off your back? What if you were thousands of miles away from home, and that was the only coat that you owned? During his time at the Syrian refugee camps in Greece, this is the selflessness and generosity that Don Brown and his family experienced from the refugees there. In his book, The Unwanted: Stories of Syrian Refugees, the 2019 YALSA Nonfiction Award Winner, Brown (the book’s writer and illustrator) imparts this message, that Syrian refugees are ordinary individuals placed in extraordinary circumstances, forced to make terrifying decisions but maintaining their humanity, generosity, and kindness.