. . . But Tessa, today's the first day of February – you're a little behind –
– Like I said, 'Happy 2018!'
As my crazy, hectic and totally insane 2017 came to a close, one of my intentions I set for the New Year was to blog more regularly – at least once a month. As we've just mentioned, I have already failed that goal now that we've entered the second month of the year and I am just making my first post of 2018. But I figured if I used not posting in January as an excuse to abandon something I really wanted to do, than that would be pretty stupid. So here we are – February 1st, 2018.
I've made a million excuses about how and why I've only had one post in 2017 – and that was the first in almost a year before that . . . Yikes! Life happened! After some reflection I realized the scope of my blog was just too broad to try and dial it in for consistently good and varied posts each week (which, to my credit, I had been doing for about two years before I started working full-time). I was burned out, so I let the blog slide – and there's nothing wrong with that. After all, you got to put your own well-being first!
As I was gearing up for 2018 I realized that if I really wanted to stick to my intention of working more mindfully and consistently with my blog, I would need to become more inspired and motivated to regularly carve out some time to do so.
That being said, there's one topic within the realm of public libraries, within the deeper realm of youth services, within the still deeper realm of youth materials that I never shut up about – and that is the diversity, authenticity and intersectionality of children's books. I mean, really this is true of all books and media, but picture books are the best and one of the biggest reasons I became a youth librarian . . . so that will likely be the majority of what I'm talking about.
1) Diversity: Who is being represented in these books? Why does a person of color, or varied abilities tend to be a sub-character, instead of the main protagonist? Are librarians including books about LGBTQ history as part of their "Celebrating American's History" book displays, or only during PRIDE week? Is HERstory included in your HIStory collection?
2) Authenticity: Who is the one telling those stories, and how are they telling them? It's not enough for an author/illustrator to simply give a few characters darker skin – the characters need to be written like they have darker skin and have lived the lives of someone with dark skin (This on top of avoiding stereotypes). As much as race is a socially constructed concept, it provides different worldviews and how the world views you. Those real experiences need to be taken into account by authors and illustrators – especially if they are coming from a culture different than the one they are working with. Coloring a character's skin a few shades darker as an after thought or a half-hearted attempt to be diverse is not enough! #WeNeedDiverseBooks!
3) Intersectionality: Life is complicated. Characters should be too! People are not just about one thing or the other. There can be a character who is muslim and gay, someone who is bi-racial and deaf, someone who checks more than one box – because, guess what? That's real life.
These three components of representation are essential to keep in mind while evaluating, consuming and purchasing media – whether its selecting a library book or anything else in your everyday life. So from now own, I'll be using this platform to dig into these topics a little deeper for myself, other library professionals, and anyone else who feels like reading!
From providing multicultural book lists to tips on how to make storytimes more inclusive, my goal for this blog is for it to help keep the conversation going, to get people thinking more critically about representation, and to ensure that everyone feels they can see themselves represented on their library's bookshelves!
Write soon (I promise – for real this time!),