Q: I really didn’t like your recommended BOOK X because __________.

Recently, we’ve received some criticism over a couple of the choices made for our Summer Reading Series. There are people who believe that we should never recommend a problematic book. Others even ask that we draw up lists of books that are poor representations of diversity. However, we do not believe in censorship of any kind.

To be clear, there is certainly a line that we will draw, for example, where an author’s publicly stated beliefs are antithetical to WNDB’s mission of inclusion and tolerance. However, outside of such clear cut issues, criticism of subject matter becomes difficult. Simply put, there is no such thing as a 100% problem free book. We acknowledge, first and foremost, that the books recommended by WNDB team members are personal selections based on individual taste. As such, the process is highly subjective, and not everyone will agree with our selections. While we welcome critical reading of all books, it is ultimately up to the reader to make his/her own determination about whether a book is of value. Our greater goal is to push for diversity on an industry-wide scale, which includes supporting the work of a diverse population of authors and illustrators, and highlighting books that we believe will appeal to a diverse population of readers.

I know you only recommend books you've read, but I just wanted to get the word out about this awesome book I won called Knockout Games by G. Neri. I was a little skeptical about it because of the wording in the synopsis, but I loved the book.

Thanks! We don’t recommend books unless a member of the team has read it, but we will post up reader recommendations as long as they are not blatantly self-promotional!

diversityinya:

This week’s diverse new releases:
Like No Other by Una LaMarche (Razorbill)

“Devorah is a Hasidic Jew, and her life is full of loving family, constant ritual, and avoiding outsiders. Jaxon is a smart, funny black teenager who has yet to see much success with girls. Both live in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, but it takes a stuck elevator during a hurricane for the two to share their first words. … LaMarche’s (Five Summers) characters are authentic and fully realized, and the dire consequences that threaten this clandestine romance make the novel read like a thriller.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Fire Wish by Amber Lough (Random House)

“In medieval times, during a war between the humans and jinni, sixteen-year-old Najwa lives below the world’s surface in the cavern of crystal, fire, and water, training to be a jinni who can spy on the humans living above them. But her first time above ground, she is enthralled by the beauty of the human world and intrigued by the human prince she sees in Baghdad’s palace. … Lough has created a lyrical story resounding with magic, love, and strife. … This first book in a series will hook young adult readers who grew up on tales of Aladdin and the Arabian Nights and is sure to entice others looking for a tale of romance and adventure.” — VOYA
diversityinya:

This week’s diverse new releases:
Like No Other by Una LaMarche (Razorbill)

“Devorah is a Hasidic Jew, and her life is full of loving family, constant ritual, and avoiding outsiders. Jaxon is a smart, funny black teenager who has yet to see much success with girls. Both live in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, but it takes a stuck elevator during a hurricane for the two to share their first words. … LaMarche’s (Five Summers) characters are authentic and fully realized, and the dire consequences that threaten this clandestine romance make the novel read like a thriller.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Fire Wish by Amber Lough (Random House)

“In medieval times, during a war between the humans and jinni, sixteen-year-old Najwa lives below the world’s surface in the cavern of crystal, fire, and water, training to be a jinni who can spy on the humans living above them. But her first time above ground, she is enthralled by the beauty of the human world and intrigued by the human prince she sees in Baghdad’s palace. … Lough has created a lyrical story resounding with magic, love, and strife. … This first book in a series will hook young adult readers who grew up on tales of Aladdin and the Arabian Nights and is sure to entice others looking for a tale of romance and adventure.” — VOYA

diversityinya:

This week’s diverse new releases:

Like No Other by Una LaMarche (Razorbill)

“Devorah is a Hasidic Jew, and her life is full of loving family, constant ritual, and avoiding outsiders. Jaxon is a smart, funny black teenager who has yet to see much success with girls. Both live in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, but it takes a stuck elevator during a hurricane for the two to share their first words. … LaMarche’s (Five Summers) characters are authentic and fully realized, and the dire consequences that threaten this clandestine romance make the novel read like a thriller.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Fire Wish by Amber Lough (Random House)

“In medieval times, during a war between the humans and jinni, sixteen-year-old Najwa lives below the world’s surface in the cavern of crystal, fire, and water, training to be a jinni who can spy on the humans living above them. But her first time above ground, she is enthralled by the beauty of the human world and intrigued by the human prince she sees in Baghdad’s palace. … Lough has created a lyrical story resounding with magic, love, and strife. … This first book in a series will hook young adult readers who grew up on tales of Aladdin and the Arabian Nights and is sure to entice others looking for a tale of romance and adventure.” — VOYA

(via nitatyndall)

“ People of color often believe that there are safe places and that academia is one of them. But I find that academia is sometimes even more a place where race is dismissed or invisible or regarded with suspicion. In an intellectual arena, the rock and the hard place people of color are put in is the place between silence and killing rage, a place where it hurts to keep quiet and it can hurt your career to speak up. It is a place determined by the majority context, where either choice is self-defense. ”
Do you know of any diverse history books? I believe our current ones need to be rewritten towards diversity.

This is such a touchy subject. If you are talking about how history is taught in school textbooks - you are hitting on a problem that occurs in many countries worldwide. Many countries offer up history textbooks to their students that tend to distort, minimize, or even completely ignore past atrocities by their governments. Nobody wants to make themselves look too bad to their own citizenry. Fortunately, historians have researched and published their own books to keep the public aware of the realities of their country’s histories, but usually, these are adult books and not part of any school curriculum. For example, depending upon the school district, not enough is taught in the US about the true Native American history and the atrocities committed on them or the Japanese internment during WWII. In Japan, the Nanking massacre is called an incident and the history books don’t even touch upon the existence of Korean comfort women. And the list goes on.

Do you think it's a coincidence that most of the time when a disabled character appears in fiction, some aspect of them almost always tries to be more okay to white abled people, like the character is disabled, but a white, and also a guy?

This is something we can’t really answer. The onus is on writers (all writers - books, tv, film, comics, etc.) to be mindful of how they are portraying their characters. But when they don’t research properly and don’t care enough to think about the impact of their portrayals, this is what happens.

I'm going to be a first grade teacher this fall and want to make sure I'm reading diverse books among all the first-grade classics. Any suggestions?

Hi there! We are going to have a great list of recommendations for you as soon as our lists are ready. Right now they are being vetted by our awesome Librarian liaisons! We can’t wait to share them with you. But in the meantime, please check out the #summerreadingseries tag for some great recommendations. We have covered picture books, middle grade and YA in the series.

I know the movie adaptation wasn't diverse, but you know in The Hunger Games, Katniss, Gale, and Haymitch all are described to have "olive skin", which can mean a lot of things, but in the context of the novel, they're definitely not white. I was just surprised that you put it on here as a "if you liked this..."

The purpose of the summer reading series is two-fold. First to highlight books by diverse authors and second to highlight books with diverse main characters. The books we use as the comparable all have one major thing in common - they are famous, well known, or best sellers. They themselves might be by a diverse author or have diversity (almost never the main character though), but they are all going to be well known. For example, you might find a Marie Lu book being the comparable and then the next day another Marie Lu book being the diverse one. I do want to point out one thing though. Just portraying a character as having dark skin does not make a book diverse. There are very light skinned black people and very dark skinned white people. Diversity goes beyond a superficial skin tone and embraces so much more, like cultural background, historical prejudice, etc. And any ambiguity about Katniss’s racial background should have been completely clarified when Suzanne Collins herself handpicked Jennifer Lawrence to play the role in the movie.

Hope this makes sense and thanks for asking.

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