I have to begin with this beautiful trailer for Navjot Kaur’s latest book, Dreams of Hope:
Yes, there’s a place for books like Go the F*** to Sleep (though I don’t really appreciate a black father—Samuel Jackson—being used to voice the supposedly unspeakable thoughts of parents everywhere), but this lovely book is how you want to send your little one off to dreamland. Please do support this indie press! A while back we discussed the possibility of starting a Birthday Party Project—a campaign to get parents to commit to buying multicultural books as presents for any occasion, but specifically for the endless stream of birthday parties that most kids attend every year. Having books in the home and developing the habit of leisure reading impact a child’s academic success—and studies show that black and Latino kids have fewer books at home and read less during leisure time:
One of the things often overlooked in discussions of academic achievement is the importance of leisure reading, not only the quality of it but the volume of it. There are, in fact, solid correlations between how much reading teens do on their own and how well they perform in school…
When we look at the results broken down by race, more concerns arise. Table 11 doesn’t separate racial groups into age groups, but the racial groups in general show marked differences that likely are reproduced for the teen category alone. Whites come in at .31 and .37 hours on weekdays and weekend days, respectively. Blacks come in at half that figure, .17 and .18, even though blacks have more leisure time than whites (5.61 hours to 5.14 hours per day). Hispanics have less leisure time (4.89 hours) and pile up even less leisure reading (.15 and .11 hours on weekdays and weekend days).
Edi’s got a list of new releases if you’re putting together a summer reading list for the teen in your life. And there are lots of great books that didn’t get their fair share of the spotlight last year—be sure to check out Nerds Heart YA. You can also find author interviews at Reading in Color, The Rejectionist, and The Happy Nappy Bookseller. And while you’re there, check out Doret’s great list of LGBTQ novels featuring queer teens of color.
I went to the PEN American Center office today and met with Stacey Leigh—she told me all about the Open Book Program:
Initiated in 1991, the PEN Open Book Program encourages racial and ethnic diversity within the literary and publishing communities. Its committee works to increase the literature by, for, and about African, Arab, Asian, Caribbean, Latin, and Native Americans, and to establish access for these groups to the publishing industry. Its goal is to insure that those who are the custodians of language and literature are representative of the American people.
The Open Book Committee includes writers and publishing industry professionals from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. The Committee discusses mutual concerns and strategies for advancing writing and professional activities, and coordinates Open Book events.
We’re hoping to host a mixer later this month to give people a chance to meet and have their say about topics related to publishing. I’m excited about the possibilities and will post more in the near future, so stay tuned!