Home > Blog > Month: November 2013

Month: November 2013

  • Committee Votes to Keep ‘Eleanor & Park’ in the Anoka High School Library Collection

    “Earlier this year, the book had been selected by the school librarians of the Anoka-Hennepin district as well as the librarians at the Anoka County Public Libraries for the joint …

  • Random House & BookPeople Organize a Pen-Pal Program Inspired by ‘Laugh with the Moon’

    “More than 40 schools have signed on to participate in the literacy initiative that will also provide local schools with tools for curriculum enrichment…To further engage students and teachers, educators …

  • Online Children’s Book Art Auction Starts Today!

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE              NEW YORK, NY, Nov. 26, 2013 — An auction of more than 70 pieces of art created for children’s books launched on eBay today. New pieces are …

  • Books for Asia to Collect Children’s Books for Typhoon Haiyan Victims

    As a result of the storm that took more than 4,000 lives and displaced 4 million people, entire towns were washed away or severely damaged. There will soon be an …

  • The CBC Diversity Newsletter Comes Early!

    Make sure to sign up to receive the e-mail digest version here!

  • Random House Partners with Bookstores to Launch a ‘Grinch’-Themed Community Campaign

    The publisher has created a “Grinch Community Cares Project” event kit and partnered with stores to hold events throughout the month. The kit contains a calendar filled with “good deed” …

  • Simon & Schuster Imprint Announces Fantasty Series by Ken Liu as First Acquisition


  • Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian to Pen ‘Ashes to Ashes’

    “I was a little nervous because I wanted us to stay friends beyond the writing stuff, and what if we got into a huge fight and never spoke to each …

  • CBC Diversity 101: The Disabled Saint

    A Caricature, Not a Compliment

    Contributed to CBC Diversity by Kayla Whaley

    It’s difficult to find any representations of disabled characters in any form of media. In GLAAD’s annual look at minority representation on scripted network shows, there were only eight characters with disabilities in the 2013-2014 season. That means of all the characters on network shows in primetime, a whopping 1% had a disability.

    That figure measures only a very small segment of the media, but it is indicative of a larger problem: the woeful lack of representation of people with disabilities across the board. I would argue that this dearth of disabled characters makes it even more important that the ones we do get are respectful and thoughtful portrayals.

    I would also argue that those characters that aren’t—those that perpetuate harmful stereotypes, clichés, and tropes—are even more dangerous than they otherwise would be given that lack.

    Personal Connection

    I was born with a degenerative neuromuscular disease, and have used a power wheelchair since I was two. I can distinctly remember the first time I saw a character that used a wheelchair. I was ten. I just want to emphasize that I didn’t see a single character like me for the first decade of my life. It didn’t even occur to me to ask for a wheelchair-using character.

    But then there one was. Here was a movie where someone like me would not only be a character, but the main character. I was ecstatic. Until I actually watched it, and then I couldn’t figure out why I felt so utterly disappointed, almost betrayed. I didn’t understand that feeling then, but I understand it now.

    Description of Clichés/Tropes/Errors/Stereotypes

    Perhaps my most hated trope having to do with disabled characters (and this one tends to happen most often to physically disabled characters, though not exclusively), is that of the “disabled saint”—the good little cripple, perfect in personality in spite of being wholly imperfect physically.

    Innocent and pure and forever denied their humanity.


    The classic example is Tiny Tim, though this trope exists everywhere. The movie I mentioned above was a Disney Channel original called Miracle in Lane 2. It tells the story of a boy who uses a wheelchair and begins soapbox racing. It’s been many, many years since I’ve seen it, but I distinctly remember being uncomfortable. I realize now it’s because the character wasn’t a character; he existed solely to inspire both the audience and the other characters, otherwise known as inspiration porn. The disabled saint trope is a specific (and very common) form of inspiration porn. But it’s important to note that while all “disabled saints” are necessarily inspiration porn, not all inspiration porn necessarily involves a “disabled saint.”

    I want to be clear: disabled characters (and disabled people) can certainly be inspiring, but they are not inspiring simply because they exist while also having a disability. All forms of inspiration porn, including the “disabled saint” trope, tell the abled audience that people with disabilities exist to make them feel inspired. It removes the focus from the disabled characters, and turns them into props that exist entirely to impact the abled characters and audience.

    The “disabled saint” trope is particularly insidious because it tells the audience that disabled people are and should be perfect in spite of (or maybe because of) their disabilities. It places an utterly impossible standard on actual people with disabilities. Because no one is perfect. No one is innocent or pure (whatever those words even mean), and expecting any and all disabled people to exhibit those qualities sets them up for “failure” when they turn out to be humans and not saints.

    Representation matters, and when the only disabled characters shown are saints and inspirations, how does that impact actual people with disabilities? I can tell you how it impacted me. I can tell you how I’ve been told time and time again how “brave” and “courageous” I am for simply existing while using a wheelchair. I can tell you how almost every public acknowledgement of my accomplishments has come with a statement of how “she never lets her disability stop her/get her down/change her.”

    I can tell you how important it felt to be the best in school. To be liked. To be funny. To be sweet and smart and perfect. Because I felt that I had to prove myself.

    I can tell you how one time my dad told me he thought anyone born with a disability was also born with some exceptional quality to make up for it. I can tell you how I nodded along and tried to figure out what my special quality was that justified me existing, though I didn’t have the understanding or language to know that’s what I was doing.

    I can tell you that representation matters. That there are no saints in this world. That neither I nor any disabled person exists to be an inspiration.

    What I’d Like to See

    I’m honestly not sure where I stand on the “no representation is better than bad representation” debate. But I do know I want to see a) more representation of disabled characters, and b) better representations, including fewer “disabled saints” (read: no more ever). I encourage you to add disabled characters to your stories, but I also encourage you to question your preconceptions, to research, to talk with disabled people. Ultimately, it all comes down to being intentional and respectful.

    Don’t deny your characters—any of your characters—their humanity.



    Kayla Whaley is a co-moderator of Disability in Kidlit, a freelance editor, a YA writer, and a fervent supporter of diversity in kidlit (and all lit).

  • The Stars of A&E’s Hit Show Duck Dynasty® to Release Picture Book with S&S Books for Young Readers

    Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, announced today plans to publish Everything’s Better with a Beard, a picture book by Si, Willie, Phil, Jase, …

  • Random House Children’s Books Acquires New Books From Julianne Moore Based on Her Bestselling ‘Freckleface Strawberry’ Character

    New York, NY, November 21, 2013 — Four-time Academy Award–nominated actor and bestselling author Julianne Moore will be publishing new books with Random House Children’s Books, extending her bestselling Freckleface Strawberry character to …

  • Cynthia Kadohata Wins the 2013 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

    Julia Kuo created the illustrations. Atheneum Books for Young Readers published the book in June 2013. The story stars a Japanese-American girl named Summer who sets out to make her …

  • On the Disproportionate Number of White Boys in Children’s Books

    Boys who grow up seeing themselves everywhere as powerful and central just by virtue of being boys, often white, are critically impaired in many ways…It seems reasonable to suggest media …

  • Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Acquires First Teen Novel by Bestselling Author Christina Lauren

    Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers is pleased to announce the publication of SUBLIME by international bestselling author Christina Lauren in Fall 2014. Christina Lauren—pseudonym of author team Christina Hobbs and Lauren …

  • Derek Jeter’s New Imprint to Publish Books for Young Readers

    “Jon Anderson, the president of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, said that Jeter’s parents, Dorothy and Charles, were planning to meet with the editorial staff at Simon & Schuster to …

  • The #1 New York Times Bestseller is Now Available as an Enhanced eBook with Exclusive Material to Coincide with the Motion Picture Theatrical Release from Twentieth Century Fox

    Since its publication in March 2006, THE BOOK THIEF has become an international phenomenon beloved by readers around the world. It has spent 380 weeks and counting on the New …

  • Teen Choice Book of the Year: Nominate Your Favorites Now!

    All you have to do is look at the books listed on this page, and check the boxes next to your favorites before January 31, 2014. You can also vote for titles …

  • Barbara Park, Adored Creator of Junie B. Jones, Dies at 66 Years Old

    via Kathy Dunn, Agent Director, Random House Speakers Bureau: “Barbara Park was best-known as the creator and author of the ‘New York Times‘ bestselling Junie B. Jones series, published by Random House Books …

  • CBC Diversity Newsletter: November 2013 v. 2

    Click to view CBC Diversity Newsletter November 2013 v. 2 on GLOSSI.COM

  • Random House Announces New Book Marketing Partnership with Pinterest

    Christine McNamara, Vice President and Director of Partnerships at Random House, says that this new development will benefit Pinners as well as non-Pinners: Random House is thrilled to partner with …

Back to Top