Next month is the release of Black Was the Ink by New Visions Award winner Michelle Coles and illustrated by Justin Johnson. Motivated by Coles’ frustration with the pace of racial progress in America, she wrote this book for readers to discover the critical work of Black congressmen during Reconstruction, an often overlooked time period, and make critical connections to present day.
Black Was the Ink, an extraordinary work fueled by rigorous research and impactful history, is a critical text for high school students and educators looking for authentic, honest history about the United States.
A few years ago, conversations surrounding the importance of joyful books that feature Black characters finally started to pick up steam. Though BIPOC readers, specifically Black readers, have noticed the lack of joyful diverse books for some time, publishing is finally getting to a place of recognition that Black characters are more than just oppression and a teaching moment for outside readers. BIPOC are just like everyone else with varied lived experiences that aren’t always rooted in pain. In this guest blog post, we hear from author Kelly J. Baptist and illustrator Darnell Johnson to discuss the importance of Black joy in children’s books and how that translated into their newest title The Electric Slide and Kai.
Over the last several months, we have been horrified to watch the uptick in hate crimes, harassment, and violence against Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. The NYPD reported that in 2020, hate crimes motivated by anti-Asian sentiment jumped 1,900%, and the reporting database Stop AAPI Hate received over 2,800 reports of anti-Asian discrimination between March and December 2020. While politicians’ racist rhetoric has fanned the flames of hate, we know that this is not an isolated moment, but rather a continuation of a long history of discrimination against Asian Americans. Continue reading →
For Black History Month, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite resources for readers and educators alike. Though this month is dedicated to uplifting Black history, culture, movements, and gamechangers, we must remember that Black history IS American history and should be celebrated all year round.
In this guest post, librarian Alexandria Brown discusses the issues with labeling books as “diverse” and other ways we can build and promote a more equitable library collection.
Every so often, the question of whether or not to add a spine label designating “diverse” books makes the rounds. Many condemn the practice, but lots of library staff persist in labeling. Like most diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issues in librarianship, many of my colleagues are still operating within a white (and cisgender and heterosexual) supremacist framework. It is an understandable predicament to be in – after all, many library degree programs are not as strong as they could be in advocating for DEI and decolonization. So let’s examine the question of diversity labeling and see if we can’t get to a better understanding of why it’s problematic.
Shirley Chisholm, a woman of many firsts, was an unforgettable political trailblazer, a candidate of the people and “catalyst of change” who opened the door for women in the political arena and for the first Black president of the United States.
The Diversity Baseline Survey was designed to measure the lack of diversity within the publishing industry. The data also allows us to track progressas our industry grows and evolves. In 2016, Lee & Low Books sponsored and organized the first major publishing Diversity Baseline Survey (DBS 1.0). The DBS 1.0 measured the staff diversity of reviewers and publishers and has opened up a renewed interest in how to improve staff diversity. In January 2020, Lee & Low Books organized the second Diversity Baseline Survey (DBS 2.0) and released the results.
Below, you’ll find our Educator Resource Guide for the Diversity Baseline Survey. We’ve gathered discussion questions and activities for educators to use in the classroom (including virtual classrooms too!). Continue reading →