2015 Young Adult Services Symposium: Diverse Teen Fiction

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Diverse Teen Fiction: Getting Beyond the Labels

Moderator: Dhonielle Clayton (middle school librarian, VP of Librarian Services of We Need Diverse Books, author of Tiny Pretty Things)

Panelists: Swati Avasthi (author of Chasing Shadows, 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults), I.W. Gregorio (author of None of the Above), Fonda Lee (author of Zeroboxer), Stacey Lee (author of Under a Painted Sky), Anna Marie McLemore (author of The Weight of Feathers), Renee Watson (author of This Side of Home)
TinyPrettyThingsChasingShadowsNoneoftheAboveZeroboxerUnderPaintedSkyweightoffeathersThisSideHome
  • All children need access to diverse books.
  • We need to change the landscape.
  • Mirror books: books that reflect your experience.
  • Window books: shows you an other experience.

What was your first mirror book?

Avasthi: It was actually Little House on the Prairie, while she was not white, personality-wise she felt akin to Laura. She felt conflicted when reading it though because at the time there was no difference when it came to identifying Native Americans and Indians. Did that mean she was a savage? In her twenties she found Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, and she feels that this was really her first mirror book and it taught her that there doesn’t need to be just one experience.

Gregorio: For her it was In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord. The character was the same as her, but the experiences was not hers. The main character was a first generation immigrant, and she was a second generation immigrant who grew up in upstate New York.  When she read The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan in college, it was then that she found a book much closer to her experience as second generation immigrant. This shows how much diversity is needed in diverse fiction. There are multiple stories and different experiences.

Fonda Lee: She read lots of sci-fi and fantasy, which was greatly lacking diversity. The Sign of the Chrysanthemum by Katherine Paterson was the first Asian character she read. Years later she drew inspiration from reading Eon and Eona by Alison Goodman, since it was a great example of fantasy drawing from other cultures. Continue reading 2015 Young Adult Services Symposium: Diverse Teen Fiction

Realistically Speaking! New & Upcoming Realistic YA Fiction for Your Spring Reading

Vanishing GirlsHappy March, dear Hubbers! I’m trying to think of something fun and pithy to say about March, but, alas, I can think of nothing. So, let’s get to the main topic at hand – ALA Midwinter. Yes, I know Midwinter has been over for a month now, but I had put off so much work at my library preparing for Midwinter (shh – don’t tell my boss!) that when I came back, I was like, “uh, I have a ton of stuff to do.” Well, most of that “ton of stuff” is done, so I was finally able to dive in to a few of the ARCs that I brought home with me from Chicago.

As always, there are some great new and upcoming teen reads that I hope you will check out and recommend to teens! From a finale in a two-book series (a two-book series – I haven’t seen one of those in forever!) to ballerinas at each other’s throats to sisters and the complicated relationship they have, readers will have plenty to choose from in the upcoming months. One thing I will say that’s not related – I just finished Noggin by John Corey Whaley (I know, I know – I’m behind), and wow, did I love that book! I almost thought about sneaking it in this list, but I’m sure I would have been caught! Ha! Anyways…here we go…first up: something I know a lot about – sisters!

Continue reading Realistically Speaking! New & Upcoming Realistic YA Fiction for Your Spring Reading