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Diversifying Barbie & Mortal Kombat: 20 Years Later Celebration at MIT

On April 6, the Women’s & Gender Studies and Comparative Media Studies departments at MIT sponsored the daylong conference “Diversifying Barbie & Mortal Kombat: 20 Years Later Celebration” — spearheaded by the amazing and indefatigable Dr. Kishonna L. Gray and with “opening reflections” by Dr. T.L. Taylor — to explore race, gender, sexuality, representation, and […]

Don’t Read These Books to Your Children! (Without a Heck of a Lot of Context)

Talking to kids about race can be intimidating for parents—particularly for white parents in the U.S., who tend to delay the conversation almost ten years after black and Latino families broach the subject. But white parents need to talk to their kids about race: it’s one of those necessary evils involved in raising kids who […]

On Zetta Elliott’s “Decolonizing the Imagination” (from 2010)

Author and teacher Zetta Elliott contributed “Decolonizing the Imagination” to the Writer’s Page column in the Magazine‘s March/April 2010 issue. As a child and young adult, Zetta loved classic British novels; she notes, however, that she “learned early on that only white children had wonderful adventures in distant lands; only white children were magically transported […]

Reading Race and Power in Fantasy

When my daughter was three or four, we would play a computer game together where she would have to choose an avatar to represent herself. To the game’s credit, there were at least twelve options for girls, with all different skin colors and hair colors and styles. Inevitably, my very pale daughter would select a […]

On Ibi Zoboi’s “A Fine Bookshelf” (from March/April 2016)

“I’ve never been able to think about literacy for black children without thinking about the historical effects of slavery. Black children were not allowed to read for far longer than there have been books that feature them.” In “A Fine Bookshelf,” published in the March/April 2016 Horn Book Magazine, author, mother, and Haitian immigrant Ibi […]

Family Reading: A place for ALL families

This has been a rough week for a lot of us. We’ve read in the news and heard firsthand stories of uncertainty and fear from our children and their classmates and from neighbors and friends. The presidential election’s hateful rhetoric has prompted kids to worry about what is to come under the incoming administration: “Will […]

Books in the Home: “Mommy, Do I Have White Skin?”: Skin Color, Family, and Picture Books

When my son was five, he was watching TV when a commercial came on that showed a woman slathering her peach-colored arms with lotion. He glanced down at his own brown arm. After poking it with a finger, he asked: “Mommy, do I have white skin?” It was a moment that seemed straight out of […]

On “Who Can Tell My Story”

Last Thursday at a panel on diversity in children’s and YA publishing hosted by Emerson College’s Writing, Literature, and Publishing program, Kirkus editor Vicky Smith referenced the current #OwnVoices movement in support of books featuring diverse characters created by authors and illustrators from the same diverse group. For those in the audience unfamiliar with #OwnVoices, Vicky […]

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 […]

Orlando

We walk in, by ones or twos, flash IDs and smiles. If you are lucky, the dance floor is already crowded and you can simply slip between the sounds, into the movement. There are colored lights spinning over skin, over carefully chosen outfits, over movements practiced in home mirrors, over moments of joy and sweat […]