After her recent interview about sensitivity readers in the New York Times, Editorial Director and Publisher of Tu Books, Stacy Whitman, further discusses the role of cultural experts and sensitivity readers and the important part they play in the editorial process.
Over the last several months, outlets like the New York Times have started discussions of the use in publishing of what are now being called sensitivity readers—what we here at Lee and Low have called cultural experts. In particular, the New York Times framed their take on the subject as a question of censorship. The current headline reads, “In an Era of Online Outrage, Do Sensitivity Readers Result in Better Books, or Censorship?” which is updated from the print version, “Sensitivity or Censorship? The Vetting of Children’s Books in an Era of Outrage.”
I’m not sure that the update changes the framing, which still implies that what should be a standard part of the editorial process is somehow a form of censorship.
Last month was the release of I Am Alfonso Jones written by Tony Medina and illustrated by Stacey Robinson and John Jennings. In this book, Alfonso Jones can’t wait to play the role of Hamlet in his school’s hip-hop rendition of the classic Shakespearean play. He also wants to let his best friend, Danetta, know how he really feels about her. But as he is buying his first suit, an off-duty police officer mistakes a clothes hanger for a gun, and he shoots Alfonso.
When Alfonso wakes up in the afterlife, he’s on a ghost train guided by well-known victims of police shootings, who teach him what he needs to know about this subterranean spiritual world. Meanwhile, Alfonso’s family and friends struggle with their grief and seek justice for Alfonso in the streets. As they confront their new realities, both Alfonso and those he loves realize the work that lies ahead in the fight for justice.
Accompanying our title is the I Am Alfonso Jones teacher’s guide, which offers resources and tips on how to guide discussions of race, racism, and social justice in the classroom. Our teacher’s guide also features summary and background information, prereading and discussion questions, ideas for reader’s response and writing activities, strategies for ESL/ELL, and interdisciplinary activities and connections. Below we’ve gathered a few prereading questions, discussion questions, activities, and resources from the I Am Alfonso Jones teacher’s guide.
In this ongoing series, we explore what culturally responsive teaching looks like at different grade levels and offer concrete examples and resources. Last week we explored going beyond “The Single Story”. Today, educator Lindsay Barrett offers a culturally responsive approach to discussing Thanksgiving in the Classroom.
Given the current conversation surrounding the role of athletes in regards to politics, some people question whether athletes should be able to voice their opinions on certain matters. But what many people don’t know is that athletes have always been prominent activists whether on the field or off. From Louis Sockalexis to Jim Thorpe, we’re highlighting seven activist athletes who stood up for what they believed in to make the world a better place.
New York Comic Con is next weekend (Oct. 5-8) and we couldn’t be more excited! If you’ll be there, be sure to stop by booth #1140 and say hello. We’ll have some great giveaways (including an amazing EXCLUSIVE poster) from Tu Books and you’ll also get to meet the creators of I Am Alfonso Jones, Tony Medina, Stacey Robinson, and John Jennings.
If you don’t have tickets to New York Comic Con, you can still join the celebrations! We have two book launch events lined up for I Am Alfonso Jones next week, both free and open to the public.
Join us at Poets House in conjunction with Kweli Journal and at the Langston Hughes House in conjunction with I, Too Arts Collective. See below for our full schedule of events!
Last week was the release of Rebel Seoul, the New Visions Award-winning science fiction debut by Axie Oh! If you’ve read Rebel Seoul (and if you haven’t what are you waiting for?), then there’s no denying the influence of Korean action dramas in Oh’s novel. So for those of you who want to know more about Korean dramas and films (or for those of you who can’t get enough), Axie Oh created this amazing list of Korean dramas and films for everyone to watch.
Today is the release day of Rebel Seoul, the New Visions Award-winning science fiction debut by Axie Oh! When Lee Jaewon is assigned to partner with supersoldier Tera in Neo Seoul’s top weapons development division, he must decide where he stands: with the people his rebel father protected or with the totalitarian government that claims it will end all war.
To celebrate today’s release, we asked author Axie Oh about her writing process, the inspiration behind Rebel Seoul, and her advice to aspiring authors.
Released last month, Martí’s Song for Freedom/Martí y sus versos por la libertad is a picture book biography of José Martí, a renowned political figure and revolutionary who dedicated his life to the promotion of liberty. Known for his leadership in the fight for Cuban independence, Martí is celebrated throughout Latin America. To many Latinos, particularly Cuban Americans, he represents the bridge between the cultures of Latin America and the United States. Martí’s Song for Freedom/Martí y sus versos por la libertad received five starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Shelf Awareness, Booklist, and Kirkus Reviews.
For this post, we asked author Emma Otheguy, editor Jessica Echeverria, and translator Adriana Dominguez to take us through the translation process for Martí’s Song for Freedom/Martí y sus versos por la libertad:
You’re a writer working on a manuscript and you’ve finally got your two most important characters in the same room. There’s tension between them. One character has a question and the other has the answer. The conflict your plot has been riding on has finally come to a head—these characters need to say what’s been on their minds for pages!
But how do you make sure that your characters say what they need to in a way that’s believable to the reader? Nothing ruins a moment like this more than when the dialogue doesn’t flow or sound believable. If this is a problem you’re grappling with, don’t worry. We asked two previous New Voices Award-winning authors, Pamela M. Tuck (As Fast As Words Can Fly) and Glenda Armand (Love Twelve Miles Long) for their tips and tricks on writing successful, realistic dialogue.
In this guest post, author D. H. Figueredo discusses the message behind his book, When This World Was New, and his hope in the American Dream.
My story, When This World Was New, might have several messages, or meanings, which have been assigned to the narrative by readers and not by me. But I do have a conscious message I want to impart to you, an informal legacy of sorts. During this particular moment in the history of our wonderful country and in the history of communities throughout this land and in the history of immigration to this nation…well, my message is best depicted by a drawing made by the illustrator of my book Enrique A. Sanchez, from the Dominican Republic.