Thursday, February 16, 2012

Still reading books by & about people different from me

Longtime readers may remember that in February of 2010, and periodically for the rest of that year, I celebrated diversity, reading books by and about people different from me. Since then, I've made a point to actively track how many books I read by and or about people of color. While these books are a small fraction of books the children's industry publishes each year, I think a huge part of the joy of reading is discovering other worlds and people. But my realization last February was that if I want to read such books, I need to support such books.

Last year I didn't set aside any specific time to read books with diverse characters and authors, and at the end of the year, I was disappointed in my stats.

So this year, even though it's February 16th (I know, but it's been a crazy busy beginning to the month, okay?), and I know that using February as African American History Month to celebrate diversity as a whole is problematic, I'd like to officially recommence a month of Anne Reads Books By & About People Different From Her

What's on tap?

 I'm currently reading Malinda Lo's Ash, a lesbian retelling of Cinderella. So far I've been mesmerized by Lo's language and the way she's blended all sorts of fairy lore and tales into her book.

My TBR (To Be Read) pile for the next month includes:

"Seventeen-year-old Marisa Moreno has smarts and plenty of promise, but she’s marooned in a broken-down Houston neighborhood—and in a Mexican immigrant family where making ends meet matters more than making it to college.  At school, it's another story. Marisa's calc teacher expects her to ace the AP test and to get into an engineering program in Austin—a city that seems unimaginably far away. When her home life becomes unbearable, Marisa seeks comfort elsewhere—and suddenly neither her best friend nor boyfriend can get through to her. Caught between the expectations of two different worlds and carrying a dark secret, Marisa will finally have to decide what can't wait."

"At her boarding school in New Zealand, Ellie Spencer is like any ordinary teen: she hangs out with her best friend, Kevin; obsesses over her crush on a mysterious boy; and her biggest worry is her paper deadline. Then everything changes: In the foggy woods near the school, something ancient and deadly is waiting... Full of deliciously creepy details, this unique, incredible adventure is a deftly crafted story of Māori mythology, romance, betrayal, and war."

"Magic, Djinn, Ogres, and Sorcerers. Thirteen-year-old Zardi loves to hear stories about fantastical beings, long banned from the kingdom of Arribitha. But anyone caught whispering of their powers will feel the rage of the sultan—a terrifying usurper who, even with his eyes closed, can see all.

When her own beloved sister is captured by the evil ruler, Zardi knows that she must go to any lengths to rescue her. Along with her best friend, Ridhan—a silver-haired, violet-eyed boy of mysterious origins—and an unlikely crew of sailors led by the infamous Captain Sinbad, Zardi ventures forth into strange and wondrous territory with a seemingly impossible mission: to bring magic back to Arribitha and defeat the sultan once and for all."

And I can't help but brag that I know Jasmine, who is one of the kindest people in the UK publishing industry, and I'm really excited to read her debut novel!

No more specific books in mind, but for a few years I've been hearing really good things about Christopher Paul Curtis (Bud, Not Buddy; and his latest book, The Mighty Miss Malone). Two years ago I read Scorpion by Walter Dean Myers, and really enjoyed it, so I've been anxious to read another one of his books as well (Monster? Sunrise Over Fallujah?).

A few others I've been hearing nothing but good things about:

What have you been reading lately? Any diverse books you love which haven't made my list? Any ones I've interested you in? You can follow the "diversity" tag in my blog to see other books I've highlighted in the past. And if you're really obsessed with my reading, I put all books I read on Goodreads, and review my favorites. 


  1. I really admire this project of yours. I should concentrate on reading more diverse books. Last month I did read Grace Lin's gorgeous "Where the Mountain Meets the Moon," but your post has inspired me to check out some of these other titles.

    1. Aw, thanks, Anne. Like I said in the post, obviously I'm happy to read more diverse books, but for me something about planning to do it for a month-straight is so much more productive than general good intentions. Human nature, I guess. Grace Lin's Where the Mountain Meets the Moon IS a gorgeous book! I'm glad you brought her up; I should check out some of her others. And I hope you can find some good reads from the titles I suggested, too!

  2. I may have been on the same trajectory as You, Anne, without having a name for it. Good one!
    I tend to delve in clumps, so I began my reading on the 'faraways' with Russian aristocrats, and got acquainted with a whole bunch of them before I started my Native American period, and so on.
    I hope you’re still at it when my book comes out. It is sure to send you to another place…

    1. I should be honest, the name and concept in 20120 came from picture book author Jacqui Robbins! Anyways, glad to hear I'm not the only one enjoying diverse books, no matter what we're calling it!

      Oh! Your comment sent me to your website--I didn't realize your book was coming out so soon! I'm thrilled to read it, no matter the season or TBR pile!

  3. I haven't heard of any of these, Anne. Thanks for giving me a glimpse.

    1. Always happy to share book titles! I'll post again on those I really enjoy.

  4. These look really good! Thanks for sharing.

    1. You're welcome! Do let me know if you read and enjoy any of them so we can compare notes!


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