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On Hazel Rochman’s “Against Borders” (from 1995)

“Apartheid has tried to make us bury our books. The Inquisition and the Nazis burned books. Slaves in the United States were forbidden to read books. From Latin America to Eastern Europe, they’ve trashed books. But the stories are still here. I believe that the best books can make a difference in building community.” In […]

Revisiting Julie Hakim Azzam’s “Mommy, Do I Have White Skin?: Skin Color, Family, and Picture Books”

“My own mother was of Belgian descent and Christian, while my father was a Lebanese Muslim immigrant…Being light-skinned, I assimilated so well that friends were shocked when they came to my house and discovered my father spoke with an accent and my grandmother had dark skin. These experiences were reminders that Arabs could be close […]

Hbook Podcast 1.38 – Special Guest Malinda Lo

Podcast the 38th in which Siân and Roger chat with special guest Malinda Lo. *We’re going on vacation for the holidays! We’ll miss you but we’ll see you in 2017 (good riddance, 2016)!* (nsfw) Malinda info Twitter tumblr Books we talk about Kody Keplinger, Run Sarah Waters, Tipping the Velvet All Out from Harlequin Teen […]

On Julie Hakim Azzam’s “Mommy, Do I Have White Skin?: Skin Color, Family, and Picture Books” (from November 2016)

“Using picture books, I set out to cultivate an image library that would give my children pictures of families that, like ours, were of mixed ancestry and had skin tones that ranged from light to dark.” Julie Hakim Azzam’s Books in the Home column from the November/December 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine discusses […]

Decolonizing Nostalgia: When Historical Fiction Betrays Readers of Color

If I look back at my childhood in the nineties, I can tie my preferences for types of play very closely to the types of books I liked to read. Beyond swimming and riding my bicycle, I was an indoor kid who, though I had plenty of friends, was happiest playing with paper dolls, Kitchen […]

Emerson’s “Diversity in Children’s and YA Publishing” panel

Last week, Martha and I attended an excellent panel on “Diversity in Children’s and Young Adult Publishing,” hosted by Emerson College’s Writing, Literature, and Publishing program. Panelists were Lesléa Newman (author of Heather Has Two Mommies, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, and many, many others); Vicky Smith, Kirkus‘s children’s and teen editor; and […]

I Never Met a Fiction I Didn’t Like: Characters Creeping into Reality, from the March Sisters to Simon Snow

When @Call_Me_Gil started flirting with @AnneWith_An_E on Twitter, their followers took to calling them “Shirbert.” Yes, that’s two contemporary (fictional) young adults named Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe, no realer than the L. M. Montgomery characters who first appeared widely in 1908. In this modern-day webseries re-imagining, Anne (as played by Mandy Harmon) started a […]

Was Jo March a Ravenclaw? Authors, Fans, and Who Makes the Rules

What are Harry Potter’s kids up to? Should Jo have married Professor Bhaer? Could Bella Swan have depended less on Edward? For many readers, part of being a fan is the desire to know more than what’s spelled out on the page. And when answers aren’t readily available, some readers are happy to create them […]

We need (more) diverse authors

In the Age of Testing, it seems creativity is often left by the wayside. Professional development for teachers these days focuses on practices that supposedly raise test scores. Practice questions. Test-prep software. Data analysis. Incentives. To make room for these practices, it seems that many high schools no longer teach creative writing. We teach reading […]

The Unstoppables app review

The Unstoppables app (Cerebral: The Swiss Foundation for Children with Cerebral Palsy, May 2015) introduces a diverse group of four young friends with complementary strengths: Melissa, who is blind, can reach high objects with her cane. Mai can jump over obstacles and crouch to go under them. Achim, who is in a wheelchair, can travel […]