04 Apr

“Even though I’m a boy and the main characters are girls…”

A young reader recently wrote my wife, Jennifer Ziegler, a letter that began, “Even though I’m a boy and the main characters are girls, I quite enjoy your book Revenge of the Flower Girls.”

Jennifer and I have had discussions along these lines so many times — discussions that boil down to the facts that

1) often the books she writes are described as “girl books” whereas mine are categorized as “books,” and

2) some adults would consider her books to appeal to half a classroom while mine are there for everyone.

We were both so glad that this student read what he wanted to read and felt free to say so. But Jennifer went further and wrote something powerful in response.

Here’s a bit of it:

If we want boys to read, why are we limiting their choices? Why are we effectively cutting the number of books available to them in half? If we want boys to be able to empathize with women, to be good friends, siblings, spouses, bosses, coworkers, etc., why are we going along with the idea that a story told from a girl’s/woman’s POV is not for them to read?

Read the rest of “It’s the Grown-Ups with the Hang-Ups — Not the Readers.”

15 Mar

How to Diversify Your KidLit-Related Lists #kidlitwomen

Often, those of us involved in children’s or young adult literature make lists without realizing that we’re making lists.

Four panelists that you’re considering for a session proposal for an upcoming conference? That’s a list.

Books selected for display face-out on a library or bookstore shelf? Also a list.

Authors or illustrators selected one by one for a recurring feature on your blog or in your newsletter? It may come together gradually, but over time, that’s a list, too.

Whether you’re creating a list of your own or thinking about sharing one that somebody else made, you’ve got an opportunity to better reflect the diversity that exists among the readers of children’s and YA books.

But how, exactly?

For my contribution to the March 2018 conversation on #kidlitwomen (join on Facebook,and Twitter), I’m happy to offer this downloadable guide, How to Diversify Your KidLit-Related Lists.

It’s an updated version of a graphic I’ve previously posted here. This new version has been edited by Karen Blumenthal, redesigned by Janie Bynum, and considerably improved by their efforts.

We hope you will share it widely (don’t forget the #kidlitwomen hashtag) and refer to it often (wouldn’t a color print look great on a wall in your office?). And, of course, we welcome your feedback in the comments below.