We DID It! | Dive Into Diversity Farewell

Dive Into Diversity Reading Challenge

I’m typing this by the light of my Christmas tree, while listening to the Peanut gang serenade me and I still can’t believe we’ve already reached the final post for the Dive Into Diversity challenge. This will officially be the first and last challenge I host on Rather Be Reading blog, and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner-in-crime during the whole process. It was so nice to be both laid-back and creative in everything we were writing. If you took part in this challenge in any capacity or read through these posts, I hope you’ve become a little bit more aware of the characters you are reading about and who has been writing them. Maybe you just added a brand new book to your reading list. Either way, it’s been a pleasure to share these posts with you.

For the final hoorah, Rebecca and I interviewed each other! Here are her awesome answers to my burning questions…

Estelle: Let’s start from the beginning. You were nice enough to approach us about co-hosting the challenge with you. Why was hosting this important to you? What’s been the best part?

Rebecca: I was very inspired by the kickstarter for We Need Diverse Books. I loved what the movement was about and what they wanted to achieve. To be honest, diversity in books wasn’t something I’d thought about much before, but after that, I wanted more of it and I wanted to see change. It wasn’t long after I got the idea to hold the challenge and the rest is history. Hosting a challenge hasn’t been the easiest, but it’s been rewarding. I think the best part of it has been learning, along with everyone else. Becoming more aware and listening and having people take it all in with you.

Estelle: I’m going to copy your second question to me! What was your favorite post you put together for this project?

Rebecca: Wow – looking back, there are quite a few I’m proud of. Taking the Good With the Bad because I put so much effort and love into writing it. It was my first ever post for the challenge and I wanted to get it right.

I also LOVED the How Diverse Are Your Shelves? Experiments – so much fun to put together!

Estelle: Personally, I felt a lot of frustration with this challenge sometimes because I wondered what we were really doing to reach people outside of the super blogger sphere. Do you agree? What do you think is the best way for the general reader to become aware of the campaign?

Rebecca: I totally get your frustration. I also feel this way about OzYA and trying to reach people outside of the blogging community. Super tricky. I think the best way to reach the general reader is bookshops and libraries. Local bookish places who have the ability and means to hold events, create displays and start conversations. We might not have reached the masses, but I believe we created diverse conversations in the book community and I’m happy with that.

Estelle: Who are some bloggers, authors, or websites that you go-to for great articles on diversity and where the future of publishing should go?

Rebecca: There are some great people on Twitter talking about diversity: Malinda Lo (@malindalo) and Dahlia Adler (@MissDahlElama) are two authors of many I see talking a lot about diversity in my feed frequently. Other sites to follow for diverse recs, reviews and great articles:

Estelle: What’s your biggest takeaway from the challenge and the diversity campaign in 2015?

Rebecca: It was a pretty laid-back challenge, but it was more work and stress that I initially thought it would be. But it’s not to say I didn’t enjoy hosting it. Diversity is now a common, talkative subject in the book community and there’s definitely been change since a year ago. But there’s still a way to go in terms of publishing and the future of the book industry. Like I said above, there’s talk and change happening in the book/publishing community, but I feel like it hasn’t yet reached the outer community, which I feel will really help things along. So here’s hoping the message continue to spread and we start to see more change the coming year.

As for how the challenge affected me as a reader, it’s impacted my reading over the year with half of what I read a diverse title. But the fact I’m most happy and pleased about and generally makes me smile wide is the fact that my favourite books of the year are all diverse. Not because they’re diverse, but because they are all freaking amazing books in their own right. Heartfelt, special, thoughtful, impacting. I talked about my favourites last week, which you can check out here.

♥

Don’t forget to check out my chat with Rebecca @ Reading Wishes. Another big thanks to her for asking Magan and I to join her reading challenge party, and all of those who contributed to posts or wrote your own. xoxo

Here’s to a fabulous end of the year, and a new one filled with compassion, new reading adventures, and more representation for all.

Say Hi to a Few Librarians | Dive Into Diversity

Dive Into Diversity Reading Challenge

Welcome to the 11th month of the Dive into Diversity challenge! Rebecca and I can hardly believe we are just about done, but here we are. In the last sparkly original post, I’m piggybacking off some feelings I’ve had lately — how the general public who doesn’t spend a lot of time hanging out in the online book community or reading Publishers Weekly is finding out about the We Need Diverse Books campaign. Of course, I immediately think of librarians who work tirelessly to stock their libraries with books their community wants to read, recommend titles when asked, and make everyone feels welcome.

So I asked a few librarians to answer some questions on their jobs and how the diversity campaign has essentially affected how they do their job. Did they feel like the people who aren’t invested in these book/publishing bubbles were knew what was going on? What about the future? I hope you enjoy their insights and give you a little taste into DIVERSITY IN THE REAL WORLD.

♥

Eden - Librarian Dive Into DiversityEden has been a young adult librarian in Kentucky for 3 years. @edenjeangrey

(Diverse) books and authors have you been recommending this year: Mostly books about mental illness, like Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman and My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga.

On how to connect the campaign with patrons: I feel that customizing and tailoring your individual approach to diversity in library collections and services is crucial – just promoting diversity in general isn’t going to accomplish as much. Take time to determine what diversity means for our community, your service area, and your patrons, and work according to their identities and needs.

♥

Bookish - Dive into Diversity LibrariansBookish has been a librarian for 8 years. She has previously worked in college admissions and as a middle school teacher. @bookish & her blog.

On what’s changed since the WNDB campaign became “mainstream”: When I first got into librarianship, if I brought up the need for diversity in YA or kidlit, I’d get uncomfortable silences on listservs and in conversations. Only a few brave souls would answer. There was a deafening silence from the rest. Now that the WNDB campaign is more “mainstream,” many more people are willing to at least listen to the need for diversity.

(Diverse) books and authors you’ve been recommending: Grace Lin, Zetta Elliott, Jacqueline Woodson, Neesha Meminger, Yuyi Morales, Uma Krishnaswami, Mitali Perkins, Janine Macbeth, Misako Rocks, books published by Lee & Low press, Corduroy, the list goes on and on and on!

Patrons and their quest for change: Young parents of color…are keenly aware that they didn’t get to see themselves accurately and genuinely reflected in books as they were growing up, but that they want their kids to have this important connection to literature, in a visceral way. This generation of parents of color are already clamoring for books that represent their lives, their realities, so that they can share these with their children.

On what needs to happen next: …this push for diversity is mistaken as needing to be fulfilled by getting already well-known mainstream white writers to write diverse characters into their books. Don’t get me wrong; this trend is definitely a step in the right direction, for the most part. But what would be WAY more heartening is to see publishers taking chances on a LARGE number of first-time writers of color, to allow the diverse stories to be told through diverse authorial voices.

♥

Pamela - Dive Into Diversity LibrariansPamela lives in Wisconsin and has been a Youth Services Librarian since 2013. @PamelaJean0 & her blog.

Since WNDB how her book ordering has changed: Instead of ordering, say, 4 copies of a book by a popular author, I have diversified my collections by purchasing only 1 copy of a popular book and then using the remaining funds to buy new books that showcase diversity.

(Diverse) books and authors you’ve been recommending: Dumplin‘ by Julie Murphy; George by Alex Gino; Princeless by Jeremy Whitley; Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn; Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero, always and forever. <3

How the word can spread even more: Merchandising. Teens love free stuff, especially if it’s LEGALLY free (ha!). The acronym itself would be intriguing if teens didn’t know what it was. And if we can turn it into an identifying rallying cry, like DFTBA? (Editor’s not: I had to look this up. Don’t Forget To Be Awesome.) Then that’s it. Maybe vlogging, snap chatting — whatever social media the teens are on, we need to be there too.

♥

Librarians are some of my favorite people in the UNIVERSE and I’m so glad to spotlight some of them today and hear about their experiences. There are so many layers to this campaign, and I wish I could have featured even more people because I love to be nosey and see how all of this is rolling in the real world. That being said, if you are a librarian, who has tips, tricks, and thoughts to share about the WNDB campaign — please feel free to do so below. Can’t wait to hear from you! Happy Tuesday, and happy almost Thanksgiving!

Oh, and don’t forget to stop by Rebecca’s Dive Into Diversity stop!

(And a big thanks to Emma @ Miss Print for helping me out with this!)

Dive into Diversity Reading Challenge

Dive Into Diversity Family Series: Single-Parent Families

Dive Into Diversity Reading Challenge

Recently I found myself having a conversation with someone about how thankful I am for my husband, Dustyn. He broadens our daughter, Everett’s, horizons in ways I never thought possible — he shows her and teaches her things that don’t come naturally to me. He’s giving her something different that I couldn’t or wouldn’t think to. It dawned on me while I was talking to this friend that not everyone has both parents to influence parts of their personality, interests, and being. That seems like such a simple realization, but it really struck me.

Nearly 25,000,000 children in the United States live in a single-parent family according to Kids Count Data Center. Those children represent 26% of those living in our country, which means nearly one in four people reading this post likely come from a single-parent home. Divorce and death are something I’ve felt very far-removed from because I didn’t personally know many people my age who were living through this. But that’s all changed in the last few months; I’ve had four friends get divorced, three of which had children. I now see how gray some areas are and how everything isn’t so easily black and white. A few factors that separate families include abuse, death, military deployment, or the parents were never wed before having children and parted ways.

According to the Encyclopedia of Children’s Health, “The most common type of single-parent family is one that consists of a mother and her biological children. In 2002, 16.5 million or 23 percent of all children were living with their single mother. This group included 48 percent of all African-American children, 16 percent of all non-Hispanic white children, 13 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander children, and 25 percent of children of Hispanic origin. However, these numbers do not give a true picture of household organization, because 11 percent of all children were actually living in homes where their mother was sharing a home with an adult to whom she was not married. This group includes 14 percent of white children, 6 percent of African-American children, 11 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander, and 12 percent of Hispanic children.”

So where does that leave us in our quest for more diverse books? Are one in three of the books you’re reading inclusive of a single-parent family? Let’s take a look at some books that have incorporated this really well…

Single-Parent-Familiy-Books-Featuring-Single-Mothers

Not Otherwise Specified • Since You’ve Been Gone • The Last Time We Say Goodbye • I’ll Meet You There

What I Thought Was True • We Were Liars • All the Rage

Single-Parent-Familiy-Books-Featuring-Single-Fathers

Promposal • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before • On the Fence • If I Lie

I’d like to note that it was a bit more difficult to find single-father books to share, which made me curious about the rise of single-fathers. According to Pew Social Trends, nearly one quarter of single-parent families are run by a single-dad and the number has been steadily climbing over the years.

• • •

What books have you read that include examples of single-parent families? 
What would you like to read more of regarding families?

A Bad Romance with a Happy Ending | Dive Into Diversity

Dive Into Diversity Reading Challenge

I sound like a broken record but because of tech issues we are a little late this month with the Dive Into Diversity challenge. Oops. But here we are and just a few months left in the year! I can’t believe it. I’ve decided to go in a whole new direction with today’s check-in post because I was inspired (motivated? annoyed?) by a recent read of mine that falls in the romance category.

I read quite a bit of romance and I’ll sadly admit that the number of diverse characters I’ve come across is slim. (See: a lesbian/WOC supporting character in Victoria Dahl’s Flirting with Disaster and Liberty in Lisa Kleypas’ Sugar Daddy who is half Mexican.) This is why I was so excited when I found out an Asian American woman would be taking centerstage in the next volume of a series I’ve been reading. My expectations didn’t go beyond: it’s nice to know there’s more ethnicity reflected in this town than I imagined. But my excitement quickly turned to discomfort when I realized there was absolutely no nuance to her character. She was tiny and had black hair. She worked as a manicurist and then a nurse. She was over-protective of her son, and so proud she didn’t want to let anyone into her business. It was like the author had taken a list of Asian stereotypes and manifested a one-dimensional character with zero spark. She was so connected to her culture yet never questioned how her and her son were the only non-whites living in their town? The introduction of this character — through welcomed with open arms by everyone – made it glaringly obvious to this reader just how depthless this population was.

I was disappointed.

Readers are smart, and a seasoned one is going to be able to tell when the extra legwork has taken place, especially when it means researching a culture enough that it doesn’t pop off the page like a stereotype but instead is a respectful representation. Case in point: Not an ethnicity example but this weekend I read Katherine Locke’s Finding Center and stopped in the middle (for just a second), turned to my husband and said, you could totally tell how much research this author did on people with disabilities and the details of how a prosthetic would work for a dancer.

“Seeing someone who looks like you reflected in the pages of a book as a fully rendered, three-dimensional character can be powerful and transformational,” said Bobbi Dumas in this NPR blog post from 2014.

YES. YES. YES.

For more than the year I’ve been doing this challenge (and probably since the birth of Rather Be Reading), I’ve worked to make sure my reading is full of eclectic characters from all types of backgrounds. In addition to that, I try to seek out authors who are underrepresented. Awareness comes at different times for everyone but I think in the past few weeks and with the annoyance of the above reading adventure, I’ve undoubtably committed myself to seeking out books in this genre that smartly put me in touch with main characters – and authors – from all walks of life.

So I’ve added a few books to my list so far: A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev; Making the First Move by Reese Ryan; Rumor Has It by Cheris Hodges; World Cup Hook Up by Katrina Ramos Atienza; The Way Love Goes by Christina C. Jones.

But I need some more suggestions! So feel free to leave some below. I appreciate it!

More reading on this topic:

Don’t forget to jump over to Reading Wishes where Rebecca checked out the level of diversity represented on the shelves of her local bookstore. (This was such a great post!)

Cousins Siblings Friends | Dive into Diversity

Happy Dive Into Diversity, you guys! So thrilled to have our friend Rachel from Hello, Chelly sharing a great story about her family — a story we’d love to see reflected in the books we are reading more often. Plus it fits in perfectly with Magan’s closer look at family varieties (reminder to check out her stepfamily post!). Feel free to leave comments below, and let us know what diverse reads you’ve been loving lately. xoxo – e & m
Dive Into Diversity Reading Challenge

When Estelle asked me to write about my cousins, she said she’s always thought the fact that my cousins are also some of my best friends was unique about my life. It’s true. I’m so used to thinking of them as the brothers and sisters I never had (I’m an only child) but they really are cousins, siblings and dearest friends all wrapped into one. And that’s something we have our parents to thank for. Since they all love to be together, we naturally learned from their example.

Rachel from Hello Chelly on Cousins as Best FriendsWhenever I talk about a cousin, chances are I’m referring to someone on my mom’s side of the family. My mom was the first person to make the move from the Philippines to New York (Queens to be exact!). So when she got married and had me, it was… just me. It took some time for her other siblings to come to the US so they were still in the Philippines starting their own families there. It wasn’t until her youngest brother moved to NYC too that I had a cousin to play with. My cousin John was born when I was five years old and I still remember making the trip to the hospital to see him for the first time. (There’s a picture of me sitting in my aunt’s room with a hospital gown on and eating cookies.) He was so cute! That is, until he started learning how to walk and talk and insisted on taking all my toys without asking. Suddenly being the only child never looked better. But as much as he annoyed me back then, I loved him was equally as fiercely.

And that’s kind of the way it was with all my cousins as we grew up. Butting heads but loving each other all the same.

The same uncle eventually had another son, who is still the baby of our cousins. Then we all moved to New Jersey and more of my mom’s siblings followed from the Philippines. One uncle, aunt and their two sons moved in with us for years. One was my age and we were instantly like two peas in a pod. The other was older than us, tried to boss me around and me having none of that set the tone for our relationship for a while. As for my female cousins… one was in California and whenever I saw her, I followed her around like a puppy. I adored her and everything she did seemed so cool to me. (In short, I drove her nuts.) My other older female cousin moved in with my family during my senior year of high school. I admit, I wasn’t sure what to make of her at first because I was so used to being the only girl among all the boys. But it wasn’t long before I realized how nice it was to have an older sister figure around.

Looking back, I can pinpoint when we all transitioned from being just cousins to cousins and friends. It’s the same time we started to transition from kids to adults. I remember the first weekend I came home from college and my older cousin was at the house waiting for me. You know, that older cousin who tried to boss me around as a child. I was so shocked but after that, we started talking more and hanging out with whenever I was home. With each of my cousins, we’d make plans whether it was the mall, movies or going to each other’s houses. And the older we got, out of those plans traditions were born.

We watched every Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter movie in theaters together. Every Christmas we do a Secret Santa exchange. We all have graduated from college and gotten our grown-up jobs. (Well except for the youngest but he’s getting there!) They were the ones who helped me move into my apartment. I’ve watched some of them get married, where we all were either bridesmaids or groomsmen. We’ve become godparents to each other’s kids. Even the distance doesn’t matter. I visited my cousin in California twice last year and she’s in my thoughts constantly.

Rachel from Hello Chelly on Cousins as Best Friends

I really can’t imagine my life any other way. I know this all sounds rare to most people but I can’t say enough how happy I am that this is my normal.

♦

I tried to think of books where cousins are also best friends and the only one I could come up with was Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller. It’s one of my favorites and I love the friendship that blossoms between Callie and Kat. It’s not an easy road for them but they’re really there for each other as family and best friends.

But given that this is the only book I think of, clearly there needs to be more books like this! Can you think of any that I’m missing? We’d love to know! And be sure to check out Rebecca’s DID post on Reading Wishes.

YA Author Anna Banks on Friendship, Pranks & Responsibility

Joyride by Anna Banks Interview

Greetings, book pals! I’m so excited to have YA author Anna Banks on Rather Be Reading today to chat about her new book: JOYRIDE (Feiwel & Friends, June 2, 2015). If you are looking for a book with a great “opposites attract” friendship, complex family relationships, and something I’m surprised I don’t see more in YA — pranking! — then you are going to really enjoy this one. I hope you’ll read through my chat with Anna about the core relationship of this book, her inspiration, and pranking tips. No fear, you won’t find any spoilers here. BUT if you do read to the end, you can enter for a chance to win a sparkly finished copy of JOYRIDE to add to your summer reading list.

∴

YA Author Anna BanksAnna, I really enjoyed Joyride. It was the perfect companion for a bit of a traveling I did recently. My first question is probably an obvious one. What inspired you to write about a family torn apart because of deportation?

Gosh, there are so many answers to this. One, it’s been a big subject of debate especially in the news as of late, and I found that many people took a harsh view of the matter, instead of a human view. Complete jackasses, if you ask me. I wanted to show people what it’s like to be in that position, and force them to at least admit that immigrants, documented or not, are living breathing people with interests and goals and anxieties just like the rest of us.

Two, over the years, many of my jobs put me in contact with Mexican immigrants, documented and undocumented. The ones who were undocumented shared their stories with me on how they were able to get to the U.S. and what they left behinda, their hopes and dreams of bringing their family over. Their experiences were amazing and heart-wrenching, and the dangers they faced getting here and the everyday risk of getting deported really left an impression on me. The writer in me began to wonder what it would be like living as a teen and going through this. That’s how JOYRIDE started unfolding in my little brain.

Even though Carly and Arden didn’t start their friendship in a super conventional way, I loved that their relationship wasn’t on the fast lane to falling in love with each other either. What are some of your favorite books that feature guys and girls that start out as friends?

My favorite book with friends-first is Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, with Mal and Alina. They are close to each other, and loyal, but it takes a while for the romance to kick in. Mal drove me freaking crazy at first, but it kept me turning the pages. There was a point in my reading life where I devoured books with insta-love or at least insta-attraction plot themes (I’m a complete romance junkie) but now I’d rather have that push and pull, that testing and challenging and slow realization that there are feelings deeper than friendship there. I thought it would be more realistic with Carly and Arden, since they are pretty much opposites in every way.

Joyride explores so much about obligation — obligation to your family vs. yourself and what happens when you might have to make a choice between the two. This is constantly something that pops up in life whether you’re in high school or a big kid like me. Who do you think was in the tougher spot here: Carly or Arden?

Geez, these are great questions! I think Carly has it a bit rougher than Arden. Family is an essential part of Mexican culture—doing what it takes to make sure everyone is cared for. With Carly, there was this internal struggle because she wanted to be true to that, to what was ingrained in her since childhood, and that is completely understandable and totally admirable. But I think for teens and big kids ☺ it’s important to find a balance between your happiness and your responsibilities. Carly goes from one extreme to the other before finding that balance, and that may be what we all need in order to find peace with our circumstances.

Even though Mr. Shackleford and Carly don’t know each other so well, he’s still a special adult in her life. He watches out for her without even knowing her story. Did you have someone like this in your life? A blessing in disguise?

I’ve had many. My sisters have been my saviors more times than I can count, and probably more than I even know about. My dad died when I was 14, and my mom and I were pretty poor. I know we couldn’t have made it without my sisters’ help, both financially and emotionally. Of course, Mr. Shackleford isn’t exactly based on my sisters—they’re not philosophical town drunks who have a tendency to urinate in convenience store aisles….So….

What’s the key to a successful prank?

There are so many keys. Keeping a straight face while you watch it being executed is a biggie, because if not, you’re totally caught and you’re a complete amateur. Targeting the right people is also important. If you’re scaring people, you don’t want to go after the elderly—can we say heart attack? Instead shoot for high school kids or unsuspecting middle aged Walmart shoppers. Also, go for people who won’t throat punch you. That may be the best advice..

∴

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: The above giveaway is open to U.S. & Canadian readers, 13 & up. 

Add JOYRIDE to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy at B&N | Anna Banks

Thanks to Macmillan Kids for providing an early copy of this book & the giveaway copy!