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.

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

Adam Silvera & a Call to Arms | Dive Into Diversity

Dive into Diversity Reading Challenge

Hello, readers!

Another month, and more time to diversify your bookshelf. We’re thrilled to have debut novelist (a.k.a. that tall guy who used to sell me books at my favorite bookstore) Adam Silvera on the blog today! His  highly-praised release, MORE HAPPY THAN NOT, turns ONE WEEK OLD today (aww) and Adam is sharing some thoughts about timing and introducing homosexuality in books. Hope you enjoy Adam’s Dive Into Diversity stop, and add his recent release to your reading lists! (Also, challengers, don’t forget to add your DID) links below!) Take it away, Adam!

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I don’t understand why people mistake homosexuality as a choice, but they do. I’m sure a lot of the misconception revolves around wanting the world to spin a certain “normal” way, but let’s dismiss that idiocy for a few minutes (and for the rest of our lives) and take a look at why homosexuality may feel foreign to well-intentioned others.

Teenhood is that time of independence and discovery that can be both exhilarating and frustrating, and for a lot of teens, it’s the first time they’re reading something that may involve gay characters. Homosexuality in middle-grade fiction exists on a very small scale, but you’re always more likely to see a wizard struggling with his magical life than you are a kid pondering his sexuality. Sure, some pre-teens are developing loveless crushes on each other, but for the most part they are chasing each other around the jungle gym, tattle-telling on some little nemesis, or playing Pretend, so you could argue it’s not necessary to roll out homosexual presence just yet. Except I did all these things and still had feelings for boys and knew not to talk about it because it wasn’t being talked about. I’ll admit to being the kind of reader far more interested in Harry Potter dealing with all his problems, both Muggle and magical, but seeing an outed Dumbledore, or even another Hogwarts student who’s gay, could’ve changed the game for me. But we shouldn’t be including homosexual characters just for those who are gay–it should be for EVERYONE.

My point to all of this is I believe we’re introducing homosexuality FAR TOO LATE to people by only addressing it in young adult novels, and it may be why it’s so alien to others who aren’t experiencing these feelings themselves. I would love to see a greater presence of LGBT characters for younger readers, and introducing them as young as the picture book crowd so they aren’t surprised by the different ways to love.

I totally understand more authority comes with teenhood, but we shouldn’t have to be a certain age to declare who we are, even if some of those declarations turn out to be wrong. Sexuality may not always be a choice, but how we define ourselves is.

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Thanks for stopping in, Adam!

MORE HAPPY THAN NOT: The Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-relief procedure seems too good to be true to Aaron Soto — miracle cure-alls don’t tend to pop up in the Bronx projects. But Aaron can’t forget how he’s grown up poor or how his friends aren’t always there for him. Like after his father committed suicide in their one bedroom apartment. Aaron has the support of his patient girlfriend, if not necessarily his distant brother and overworked mother, but it’s not enough.

Then Thomas shows up. He has a sweet movie-watching setup on his roof, and he doesn’t mind Aaron’s obsession with a popular fantasy series. There are nicknames, inside jokes. Most importantly, Thomas doesn’t mind talking about Aaron’s past. But Aaron’s newfound happiness isn’t welcome on his block. Since he’s can’t stay away from Thomas or suddenly stop being gay, Aaron must turn to Leteo to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he is (Soho Teen, June 2, 2015).

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | @AdamSilvera | Excerpt @ MTV.com

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It’s a Wrap | MAY We Remember You Kindly

I’m sitting in my living room curled up in a blanket (I’m not cold, I just like them) and whew, not believing another month has flown by. WE ARE ABOUT TO HIT THE HALF-YEAR MARK ALREADY. Doesn’t anyone else feel like they haven’t done enough this year yet? Time to get cracking on those resolutions, that’s for sure. M & I have had a pretty active month — my husband graduated from law school, she went on an epic Hawaiian trip to photograph a family wedding, Texas storms, NYC heat, and BEA of course. Here are some of our favorite pics:

A photo posted by Estelle (@thatsostelle) on

A photo posted by Magan (@magan) on

Shopping List Musts:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/photo/18478083-kissing-in-america

Magan: Kissing in America by Margo Robb / Estelle: Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

What to Click:

On the Blog:

Monthly Features

Author Visits

Free Writing

Reviews | Buy It

Reviews | Worth It

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I love that our reads this month were SO fantastic. Has me looking even more forward to June, which is going to include some memorable book events, planning a possible reunion with M, and I’m sure a lot more surprises. Be sure to stick around! Oh — and let us know about your top reads of the month. We want to read them too!

Psst. Don’t forget — Dive Into Diversity check in (with special guest!) on June 9.

Gabbing with the YA Diversity Book Club | Dive Into Diversity

Dive Into Diversity Reading Challenge

Greetings, friends! Estelle here. A new month and another opportunity to diversify your bookshelves! I’m so psyched to share May’s DID post with you today. I’ve been an avid reader of the YA Diversity Book Club posts — made up of Sandie at Teen Lit Rocks, Kristan @ We Heart YA, Lucy @ The Reading Date, and Kristina @ Gone Pecan — where the crew discusses one diverse read a month and talks with the book’s author too. Not only is a great example of expanding your reading but this group is an example of the book blogging community at its best – not only collaborating but thoughtfully discussing together. I’m so happy to chat with them about the book club, their definitions of diversity, and, of course, their book recommendations. (Psst. Kristina was knee deep in ACOTAR research for her moderating gig a.k.a. rereading all the sexy parts so she was unable to take part this time. Hope it went well, K!)

Happy (diverse) reading!

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1. Hello YA Diversity Club! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today for May’s Dive Into Diversity post. One thing I was not personally expecting were so many questions about whether specific titles were “diverse” or not when we started this reading challenge. It’s always a difficult question for me to answer so I pose it to you guys: what makes a book diverse to you?

The Reading Date: We have an author questionnaire for every book we read and I liked how Elizabeth Wein answered this question: “the world is a diverse place” and she just “writes about people!” Everyone should be able to see themselves represented in books, and reading diverse books can show how similar people are despite differences.

We Heart YA: I don’t think there’s a perfect set of rules, and our group has definitely discussed whether certain books meet our criteria. I guess sometimes you just have to evaluate case by case. For example, AN EMBER FOR ASHES was one we debated. I really enjoyed the book, but it doesn’t fall within my personal preferences for a diverse read. (Generally I want a diverse book to expand my understanding of an underrepresented culture or demographic.) Nevertheless, after a brief discussion, I agreed with the group that EMBER still fits the mission of diversifying YA literature, because it was written by a woman of color!

Teen Lit Rocks: Since I volunteer with the We Need Diverse Books organization, I have sort of adopted their stance on what makes a book diverse. I think for me the book has to pass a litmus test of either having an author or a main character who identifies as being from a non-majority group. But if it’s the latter, the author better have done his/her research to authentically represent that identity/culture.

2. Can you give a little background about how you started the YA Diversity Club up? Did you know each other beforehand? How do you make it work? How do you pick what titles you are going to read?

The Reading Date: Sandie invited me to join about a year ago and I’ll let her answer how the idea came to be. We keep up-to-date with new releases that may be a good fit for our group. We noticed that we were reading a lot of contemporary so we added some fantasy to the mix for some variety. We chat via Google Hangout or Google Docs. Sometimes it’s tricky to find a time to chat since we are in different time zones. But, I love our discussions and they give me a greater appreciation and understanding of the books we read.

We Heart YA: Ditto what Lucy (the Reading Date) said. 🙂

Teen Lit Rocks: I was part of a multi-blog group that read/reviewed/featured books together on a monthly basis. After a couple of years, we started to feel overwhelmed and pulled in different directions/ interests. One of those areas for me was the desire to promote diverse books, because I’d heard from other girls in the group that they weren’t interested in the movement, they just wanted to read good books, regardless of who wrote them or what they were about.

I talked a lot about this issue with Kristina from Gone Pecan (who had also been part of the other group), and she mentioned that she just needed more recommendations for diverse books/authors. She wasn’t sure where to start. I had the idea of starting an online book club with other bloggers to help other book lovers “discover” diverse books, and once Kristina said yes, I reached out to two other bloggers I respect and admire, Lucy at the Reading Date, and Kristan at We Heart YA.

3. What’s one book from your book club reading you can’t stop recommending?

We Heart YA: For me, recommendations always depend on who’s asking and what they’re looking for. But personally, BLACK DOVE WHITE RAVEN is probably my fave read from our book club so far.

The Reading Date: My fave so far is LIES WE TELL OURSELVES by Robin Talley.

Teen Lit Rocks: I have really enjoyed several of the books we’ve read; my favorites are “Black Dove White Raven” by Elizabeth Wein; “My Heart and Other Black Holes” by Jasmine Warga; “Lies We Tell Ourselves” by Robin Talley; and our very first pick, “Like No Other” by Una LaMarche.

4. What diverse topic would you like to see in YA that you haven’t seen yet (or seen enough of)?

The Reading Date: One way I felt isolated as a teen was from my social anxiety. It would have been helpful to read a book with a character that dealt with the same issue. (I still would like to see more books about mental illness and social anxiety!) I’m also very passionate about LGBTQIA books.

We Heart YA: I don’t think we have progressed far enough for me to identify just one weak spot… YA lit stills needs a lot more diversity of all kinds. But I’m glad we’re at least moving in the right direction!

Teen Lit Rocks: I think there’s sort of a golden age of LGBTQIA books for teens, but I think there still needs to be more progress with books about underrepresented minorities like Latinos (especially those who aren’t Mexican) and teens dealing with disabilities or size issues. And because my kids are multi-ethnic, I wish there were more books where the characters were “other” rather than just one minority.

5. Can we talk about “token” diverse characters? I saw a comment about this on Twitter recently, and while I understand and I’m sensitive to this happening, I wondering — how do you really know? What if the author doesn’t think about the character as a “token” and the reader interprets it this way? Is this up for debate or am I just thinking too much?

We Heart YA: Everything is up for debate, haha. It’s what makes conversations about diversity so hard — but so important, too.

The Reading Date: Agreed: I think it’s up for debate. I don’t think we’ve come across this in any of our books so far.

We Heart YA: For a moment I was going to disagree with Lucy (the Reading Date) but upon reflection, I agree that we haven’t seen tokenism in any of our picks. To me, tokenism is checking off a box and wanting brownie points. “Look, I put a black character in! Aren’t I great?” Whereas I think what we saw in one book was actually just an author who was enthusiastic about diversity but overly ambitious. For me, this author’s portrayals of diversity didn’t ring true enough or deep enough — but it wasn’t for lack of good intentions. And I guess that speaks to your question: How do we know? Truthfully, we don’t, really. We can only go off what’s on the page and the impression that we get. But that’s how reading works…

Teen Lit Rocks: Nothing is more disheartening than seeing your culture or identity depicted in a half-assed, phoned-in manner. It’s always obvious to me when an author didn’t get his or her facts straight or had someone “vet” her characters. For example, when an author randomly has Latino characters speaking in Spanglish or eating foods that are from a different Latino culture, I just nod my head, roll my eyes and want to throw the book against the room. Anyhow, I do think it’s up for debate, but any author attempting to write outside her experience (something I applaud) should take the extra steps necessary to make sure that voice and character is authentic and not just a stereotype.

6. Personally, what are your hopes for the emphasis on diversity in reading as of late?

The Reading Date: I want to keep the conversation going. This isn’t a fad, and there’s still a long way to go.

We Heart YA: I hope that people will understand that the emphasis on diversity isn’t some literary Affirmative Action program; it’s simply a desire to reflect the world that we already live in. A world that has always been diverse. A world that is only going to become more diverse as we progress.

Teen Lit Rocks: Ditto what Kristan said. I hope that the word doesn’t scare people away the way it seems to in certain circles. I want my friends to ask questions and be open to responses. I want my white, straight, comfortable friends (for lack of a better way to describe them) to take a chance and read about characters who aren’t anything like them, and on the flip side, I want people who don’t fit into the majority to discover books with characters that ARE like them, at least a little bit.

YA Diversity Book Club


What’s up next for the YA Diversity Book Club? This month, they’ll be reading Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. I hope you’ll follow along! Big hugs to Sandie (Teen Lit Rocks), Lucy (The Reading Date) and Kristan (We Heart YA) for hanging out today!

Dive Into Diversity Family Series: Stepfamilies

Dive Into Diversity Reading Challenge

We’re continuing to delve into what exactly diversity is and I’ve really decided to hone in on family. Not everyone has a traditional family. The APA says that 40-50% of marriages will end in divorce. My mom’s first marriage did. It was just my mom and I for a little while until my dad (what I call my stepdad because I have never met, nor do I ever want to meet, my bio dad) unexpectedly popped into our lives. They married just before my second birthday. Four and six years later, my half-brother and half-sister were born.

I have blonde hair, blue eyes, lots of freckles, and fair skin. I’m curvy and have stocky legs. My brother and sister have my dad’s gorgeous olive skin tone, brown eyes, brown hair, and they inherited his chicken legs, too. I can only guess at what features I might have inherited from my bio dad’s genes. While this hasn’t ever bothered me, it’s caused some bumps along the way for us. (i.e. My school superintendent finding out about my bio dad my senior year in high school and publishing my name as the school valedictorian with his last name though it’s never been my given name. Oh, small town hate and politics.)

Magan's-Family-in-Alaska

This is my crazy family! From l-to-r: Dad, Dustyn (husband), Justin (brother), Mom, Ashley (sister), and Jacob (Ashley’s boyfriend). They were throwing snowballs at me in Alaska where we celebrated my parent’s 25th wedding anniversary together.

Our nuclear, “traditional” families have evolved and changed so much. Through my upcoming Dive Into Diversity posts, I’ll be exploring books with these family types: stepparents/step-siblings, single-parent families, same-sex parents, and adoptive/foster families. To be quite honest with you, I don’t want the typical family. We’ve been foster parents; we hope to again do that. I want to adopt. I want a fluid family that is ever-changing and growing and giving people a place to call home. My closest friends are my family. In a nutshell: adios traditionalism.

Let’s take a peek at some of the recommendations I’ve corralled for you (with the help of a few twitter recommendations some of you sent to me). These are focused on stepfamilies; 15% of people under the age of 18 are living in a remarried family.

Stepfamily-Family-Units-in-Books---Dive-Into-Diversity

Wild Cards. Derek’s dad marries a younger woman after his mom passes away from cancer. His dad is in the army, frequently gone, so that leaves him in the care of his stepmom. She relocates them to Chicago to be closer to his family. He and his stepmom’s sister, Ashtyn, who are the same age have a crazy attraction. It’s complicated, but Wild Cards is a great example of a complex family unit. (Ashtyn’s dad is a single-parent, too.)

Even in Paradise. Charlotte’s dad remarried and she has two stepbrothers. For many reasons, Julia’s family is attractive to Charlotte. She loves their closeness and how protective they are of one another. Charlotte comes to love and appreciate her own family more as the illusion of perfectionism fades for Julia’s family. I really felt like this was a solid example of envying what we don’t have.

Open Road Summer. Reagan’s out on tour with Dee for the majority of ORS, but we get the sense that things aren’t so peachy with her stepmom and dad when she’s home. Things are downright tense, and I admire Lord for tackling this because truthfully, not everything is perfect all because two people fell in love.

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Ink is Thicker Than Water. Woo! Spalding created an incredibly awesome blended family in this novel. Kellie has a bio mom, stepdad, adopted older sister, and a younger half-brother. (Kellie’s bio dad is also still involved, too.) This book is a great example of a complex family structure, but also a really great one because we see boundaries and exploration to understand adoption. I loved it!

Eleanor and Park. Let’s contrast a great non-traditional family with one that just broke my heart, Eleanor’s. Her stepdad is one of the nastiest creatures I’ve met in my reading. And her mom was spineless. But you know what? This is the truth for some and I’m so glad Rainbow wrote this. So glad.

Geek Girl. This book falls on the younger side of my reading, but it also seemed to explore the earlier days of Harriet’s stepmom being part of the family. I don’t recall how long it’s been since Harriet’s dad remarried, but I loved getting to see her develop such a strong affection for her stepmom and no longer seeing her as an outsider.

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Recommendations from Twitter:

The Wrong Side of Right. — Jess, Gone With the Words: “Stepmothers get a bad rep, so it was refreshing to see the beautiful relationship that blossoms between Kate and her stepmom, as well as her half-siblings. Her father was a different story, but really touching in the end.”

Being Friends With Boys. — Estelle: “Lonely with her older sister away at college, we get a chance to see Char grow closer with her stepsisters. I loved that we didn’t get the usual evil dynamics here. They are all so different but there isn’t any hate between them.”

A Midsummer’s Nightmare. – Amber, YA Indulgences: “A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger is a great family dynamic story involving an almost “stepfamily”. Throughout the story, the main character Whitley is thrust into this new suburban town the summer after graduating. It’s in this new town where she discovers her father is engaged. To a woman she’s never met. Whitley then has to deal with her soon to be stepmother and step-siblings. The family dynamics in this are spot on showing that family doesn’t have to be blood related and not all blood related family members are perfect.”

Along for the Ride. — Lauren Morrill, author

One Plus One. — Kelly, Belle of the Literati: “Regardless of blood relations, deep love, understanding, and acceptance can occur between step parents and children. Sometimes the best kind of family is the one you choose or are ‘forced’ into and OPO shows the lengths we go to for our family, blood related or not. It’s beautiful. And selfless and unassuming and poetic. Yet this book also shows how blood relations can mean nothing and how family is a choice based on love and acceptance…acceptance most of all :)”

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Which stepfamily/step-sibling books would you recommend?
Share the book love and I’ll update the post with a comprehensive list!

Don’t forget to link up your Dive Into Diversity April posts below.
Any diversity post you write, add it so we can check it out and spread the love.
Use our special hashtag, #DiversityDive, to keep up with what’s happening!

Check out Rebecca’s April discussion post, too!

book cover and review of Liars, Inc by Paula Stokes

Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes • Magan Reviews

book cover and review of Liars, Inc by Paula StokesLiars, Inc. by Paula Stokes [twitter • website]
Publication Date: March 24, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 368
Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: teenager disappearance, thriller, Internet dating
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)

Summary: Max, Preston, and Parvati form a small underground business developing lies for their classmates to get what they want at school; business is going great until Preston asks Max to cover up for him so he can go to Las Vegas to meet his Internet girlfriend he’s never mentioned before.

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Told from an independent, tends-to-be-kind-of-a-loner’s perspective, Liars, Inc. reveals how Max and his best friend, Preston, and girlfriend, Parvati, start a small but lucrative side business creating cover-ups and forging permission slips at their school.

One thing leads to another and all of the lies build up to the moment Max finds himself camping on the beach to cover up for Preston skipping town to meet his older Internet girlfriend that no one has ever heard about before.

And Preston never returning.

Preston is a Senator’s son so his disappearance escalates quickly and is taken very seriously. Initially, Max lies to the officials because he’s positive Preston will suddenly reappear; he thinks that Preston decided to extend his stay or had just a little bit too much fun. The official’s turn their attention on Max but he’s dug himself so deep with all the lies; he follows Parvati’s advice (because of course she’d know things since she wants to be in the CIA one day) though he’s not always confident he should and he begins looking more and more suspect by the minute.

Liars, Inc. turned out to be a much different story than I was anticipating. I felt like a lot of the synopsis focused on their business venture so when that was really just a stepping stone to the greater story of Preston’s disappearance, I was pretty excited. I really get into the mystery/thriller stories trying to figure them all out, and lemme tell you, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Stokes kept me guessing and second guessing myself. I did a lot of flipping back and forth when I wasn’t sure I was remembering something correctly; the ending really surprised me because there were so many elements I just couldn’t have predicted. (Score!)

I read an ARC of Liars, Inc. and felt like things were really tight, but Paula and I connected afterward and she shared the ways with me that she’d tightened up the story even more for the final copy. That means I’ll need to get my hands on it for a re-read, of course. (Note: if you’ve read an ARC, read Paula’s article about her changes. If you haven’t read it yet, don’t click that link because of spoilers.)

Aside from feeling really entranced by a great whodunnit, I really admire that Stokes managed to weave in elements to make it a great Dive into Diversity contender as well: Parvarti taught me a lot about being interracial. Max was a foster kid who was adopted into a great, loving family. He showed me one side of what it’s like to not completely feel like you belong, but to be extremely grateful to be out of the foster system. Oh, and he has a younger (also adopted) sibling that has a disability; there’s an amazing description of him getting into some trouble because he’s protecting her, and it just made this former foster-momma so, so happy. (I mean, boo violence and those mean bullies, but yay bonding.)

I can’t really think of a reason that Liars, Inc. shouldn’t be on your to-read lists this spring. What are you waiting for, guys?

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Add LIARS, INC. to Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble

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Dive into Diversity Reading Challenge