Author Richard Wright was born on September 4, 1908 on a plantation in rural Mississippi. He attended school through the first few weeks of high school before he dropped out to work, but always maintained a deep love of reading. As a black man in the South at that time, he was not allowed to borrow books from the library, so he borrowed the library card of an Irish American co-worker to access books. He later became a respected author of such classics as Native Son and his autobiography, Black Boy. Happy birthday, Richard Wright!
In honor of the upcoming release of our new YA anthology, Diverse Energies, we thought we’d put together a list of dystopias with diversity. For the purposes of this list, our definition of diversity is: 1.) A book with a main character of color (not just secondary characters), or 2.) A book written by an author of color. Of course, all types of diversity are worth celebrating, so if you know of other diverse dystopias (with, for example, LGBT diversity) please share them in the comments as well.
Note: I have not personally read all of these books, but have tried to confirm the inclusion of diverse main characters whenever possible. However, mistakes are bound to be made, so if you’ve read something and don’t think it belongs on this list, please let us know. Likewise if we’ve missed something that should be here.
If you’re a visual learner, the whole thing is on Pinterest:
And now, onward:
Above World, by Jenn Reese: (middle grade) In this dystopia, overcrowding has led humans to adapt so that they can live under the ocean or on mountains.
The Boy at the End of the World, by Greg van Eekhout: (middle grade) In this dystopia, the last boy on earth teams up with an overprotective broken robot to survive.
We had a great time this year at the American Library Association in Anaheim! It’s been a while since we were out on the West Coast, and it was fun to be able to see old friends who we haven’t seen in a while and make some new ones, too. Attendance was high, enthusiasm was up, and we had a lot of fantastic conversations about both bookish and non-bookish things. A few things I learned from the people I met at ALA, in no particular order:
1. E-books haven’t wiped out hard copies of books yet – especially picture books, and especially in school libraries. “Please don’t stop printing your books,” one school librarian told me. “We can’t do anything with e-books; we need hard copies.”
2. Everyone loves nonfiction these days. Or, if they don’t love it, they’re still looking for more of it, thanks to the new Common Core State Standards.
3. The West Coast equivalent of the Mets/Yankees “Subway Series,” a game between the Angels and the Dodgers, is called a “Freeway Series.” Go figure!
Wasn’t it *just* March? Hard to believe we’re already getting ready for ALA Annual in just a few short weeks. The best part of ALA is always meeting people face to face, and we hope many of you will come find us at Booth #2436 to say hello in person.
We’ll be giving out ARCs of Summer of the Mariposas, Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s follow-up to her award-winning debut Under the Mesquite. We’ll also have a limited number of ARCs of Diverse Energies, our upcoming YA dystopian anthology with stories by Ursula K. Le Guin, Paolo Bacigalupi, Cindy Pon, Malinda Lo, and more.
We won’t be at the Texas Library Association annual conference this week, but if you’ll be there you can still connect with two fantastic Lee & Low authors!
Don Tate, author of It Jes’ Happened and illustrator of books like Summer Sun Risin’, will be a keynote speaker at the Black Caucus Roundtable (April 19, 8-10AM) and will also appear on the panel “Books, Boys, and Boxing: Motivating Minority Males to Read” (April 19, 2-3:50PM). He will also be signing copies of It Jes’ Happened with Overlooked Books at booth #2629 (April 18, 12-3PM).
We’re getting excited to head down to New Orleans this week for the American Library Association Annual Conference. New Orleans has always been one of my favorite cities, and I’m looking forward to
eating piles of beignets meeting many awesome librarians while we’re down there. If you’ll be there too, please stop by booth #1132 to say hello! Here’s what we’ll have going on:
SATURDAY, 2-3PM: Under the Mesquite ARC signing and giveaway with debut author Guadalupe Garcia McCall. This is a PHENOMENAL book – it made me cry right at my desk – so you’ll definitely want to snag a copy.
Winning a major book award is surprising every time it happens. Like all publishers, we pretend not to pay attention to the mock award committee announcements that multiply in our inboxes each December and early January. Of course, we do not deny ourselves a little excitement when we spot one of our titles on someone’s favorites list, but we try to keep our expectations realistic. The chances of winning one of the “big” awards are like the chances of winning the Lotto, and it is a good idea to protect ourselves by not letting our hopes get too high.
We took a short break from blogging in the wake of last week’s big event in the children’s book world: the American Library Association’s annual announcement of their Youth Media Awards—or, as some like to call it, “The Oscars of Children’s Literature.” No outlandish outfits at these Oscars, but a few of our books do now have nice, shiny accessories on their covers:
Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty, winner of the Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor and an ALA Notable Children’s Book
Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace, winner of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in Illustration
There’s been a lot of chatter about prizes lately!
The ALA has added another children’s book award—and more diversity. The new Stonewall Award for Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award will be recognizing books for young readers relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender experience.
We know we’ve done something right when readers share their excitement for our books with the entire Internet. Amy Cheney, librarian at Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center, is one of those excited readers: she made a video with other staff at the ACJJC, all explaining why they love Yummy and why it’s great for the kids they work with every day.