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Month: August 2014

  • Bloomsbury UK Revamps ‘Harry Potter’ Website

    “Other new features include a Harry Potter quote generator and tons of magical downloads, including wallpapers, Facebook cover photos, and more. To top it all off, for the first time …

  • Actress Jane Lynch Collaborates With Two Writers on An Anti-Bullying Picture Book

    Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean is written in verse and aimed at readers ages 3 to 7. Random House Children’s Books will release it on September 23, 2014. “In the …

  • Penguin Young Readers Group to Publish New Novel By Bestselling Author Sarah Dessen

    New York, NY — Viking Children’s Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, is pleased to announce the release of a new novel  by Sarah Dessen, the New York Times bestselling author …

  • James Patterson Will Not Retire From Writing

    “No, at this point, I have a big folder of ideas. It’s like six inches thick, just page after page after page, and when its time for me to be …

  • WGBH Options TV Rights to ‘Pinkalicious’

    “Published by HarperCollins, the books follow the life of Pinkalicious, a young girl who loves pink for all the right reasons. It’s what turns her from a ho-hum, everyday child …

  • Neil Gaiman Confirms More ‘Chu’ Stories in The Future

    “For the second book, I wanted Chu to be a year older. I pictured the kids reading this book as growing one year older and Chu growing up with them…And …

  • CBC Diversity: Are We Really Ready For Unstoppable Characters Of Color?

    Contributed to CBC Diversity by Award-winning author Sharon G. Flake

    I love this business.  I’ve been in it for over sixteen years.  I have written nine novels for young readers, most of which feature strong, straight-ahead African American girl protagonists.

    imageWhen my first novel, The Skin I’m In was published in 1997, it was hailed for the distinct voice and spot-on insight of its main character, Maleeka Madison, who is being bullied in the novel and confronted with issues of colorism. In Begging for Change, my main character Raspberry Hill is a girl who knows what she wants and needs and goes for it by using her wits as well as her entrepreneurial skills. In Pinned, my most recent novel, Autumn is a teenager who exhibits her strength as the team’s star wrestler, despite her struggles in school. Autumn is strong, bold, courageous and open-minded. I receive letters from kids who want to be just like Maleeka, Raspberry, and Autumn – kids who are outspoken, resilient, creative, and aspire to become strong women once they’re grown.

    But it seems that smart, outspoken, straight-ahead African American girls in books are still frowned upon by gatekeepers and those who serve up books to kids. In my latest novel, Unstoppable Octobia May, which will publish this fall, ten-year-old Octobia is sent to live in her aunt Shuma’s boarding house where she is given the gift of freedom. Freedom to dream, imagine, explore, question and walk the planet whole and complete.

    imageOctobia is determined, inquisitive—unstoppable. She’s a lot like Anne of Green Gables, a character I first met during my late thirties.  What I loved about Anne was her steely resolve to be her one and only true self—damn the consequences. But already Octobia has been met with some raised eyebrows because of her tenacity when it comes to solving problems, and the creative, imaginative way she views the world. Others who have read Unstoppable Octobia May have fallen in love with her.  I’m already getting letters from readers who cheer Octobia for her vigor, independence and spunk. But to some, she’s an anomaly—a 1950’s African American protagonist who isn’t defined by the times but instead redefines what it means to be such a girl at such a time. I am finding that she is giving people pause, as she steps out of the box that publishing has historically kept such girls in.

    So how can we, as a publishing community, move past the tamping down of bold African American girl characters? In what ways can we transcend the double-standard that says we want more diversity, but only of a certain kind?

    Here are some solutions that I see as necessary if we are not just say we want diverse books—but live that motto out and permit diverse authors, diverse narratives, and diverse characters to  live, breathe and exist in ways we may not have permitted them to do so before.

    1. Empower all girls to see themselves as unstoppable. I’ve done this in a campaign that I’m launching called Raising Unstoppable Girls which will give girls the tools they can use to be themselves, own their power and speak their own truths.
    2. Let kids be the ones to decide for themselves if they like a character or not.
    3. Question our intentions. When we hear a single story over and over again –African Americans or Latino’s don’t buy books, for example—than we begin to see them as single truths.  That sort of thinking may make it difficult to accept an African American girl sleuth raised to be unstoppable.
    4. Show more strong black girls on book covers. Not just because there are tens of thousands of such readers and book clubs across the nation, but because everyone, including white readers, miss out when they don’t get the opportunity to purchase and see themselves in such books.
    5. Partner with historically black colleges and other organizations in an effort to create a pipeline between the publishing industry and potential authors, illustrators, publishers and editors.
    6. Seek out stories that allow diverse characters to have an array of diverse experiences in order to showcase their depth and universality.
    7. Believe.

    Some books that I love that do a great job of featuring strong African American girls are One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia, the Sassy series by Sharon Draper, and Maritcha: A Nineteeth-Century American Girl by Tonya Bolden.



    Sharon G. Flake is one of the top authors for children in the world today. She has received several Coretta Scott King awards, as well the YWCA Racial Justice Award, and several recognitions from the American Library Association.  Flake is a former spokesperson for Reading is Fundamental (Pittsburgh) and a National Book Foundation Fellowship recipient. Her ninth novel, Unstoppable Octobia May, is due in book stores September 30. You may contact Ms. Flake at sharongflake.com or on Twitter @sharonflake.

  • Dear Book Publishers: Letters From the 5th Grade

    The Dear Book Publishers series is a showcase of letters written by 5th graders from Dothan Brook School. These students were tasked with looking at the diversity in their school library’s picture book collection along with the race of children featured on Kindergarten Second Step cards. Reacting to what they had learned, the students wrote letters to book publishers, the Vermont Agency of Education, the school principal, and the district superintendent. During the month of August, CBC Diversity will showcase all of the letters created by the Dothan Brook School’s 5th grade class.

  • J.K. Rowling Appears at Edinburgh International Book Festival

    For Rowling, “Malala is an inspiration to girls and women all over the world. It is a real honour for me to introduce her at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.” …

  • Texas Pastor Files Complaint Against Supernatural YA Books

    The pastor has expressed an opinion that allowing children to have access to these books is dangerous. “Cleveland City Manager Kelly McDonald declined an interview but we have Library Director, …

  • How Long Does it Take to Learn to Read?

    “All average readers, the subjects wore noninvasive electrode caps that could swiftly pick up electrical activity in the brain. They were shown strings of letters/symbols that fell into four different …

  • A Make Way for Ducklings Store Will Open in Boston

    “The store takes its name from Robert McCloskey’s Caldecott Award-winning picture book, the official children’s book of the state of Massachusetts…Hirsch has been offered a one-year lease on the 5,000 …

  • Random House Children’s Books to Publish the ‘Best Lowly Worm Book Ever!’

    “Though not an entirely new experience for him as an artist, Huck found completing Best Lowly Worm Book Ever! an exacting endeavor. ‘Emulating my father’s style, and above all his …

  • Pottermore Releases New Content from J. K. Rowling About Singer Celestina Warbeck

    LONDON, ENGLAND – J.K. Rowling’s website pottermore.com has posted new writing by the best-selling author about the international wizarding singing sensation Celestina Warbeck.  The 500-word entry about Celestina, who is sometimes known …

  • 12 YA Writers Contribute Stories to Holiday Anthology

    The other eleven writers include Holly Black, Ally Carter, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Matt de la Peña, Rainbow Rowell, Laini Taylor, and Kiersten White. …

  • Lauren Oliver Shares 3 Lessons From Reading ‘A Wrinkle in Time’

    “From the protagonist of the story, Meg Wallace, to the friendly “beasts” who nurse her back to health after she is almost consumed by the black thing, to the peculiar …

  • Francis Lawrence Talks ‘Mockingjay’ Part 1 And Part 2

    Suzanne Collins, the book trilogy’s author, served as an executive producer for all four movies. She and the film team hope to surprise book fans with a few “special” elements. …

  • ‘The Kite Runner’ and ‘Chinese Handcuffs’ Challenged in Wisconsin

    NEW YORK, NY – The Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP) of the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) and partner organizations has expressed concern over a challenge to The Kite Runner by Khaled …

  • Scholastic Kicks Off the 2014 School Year with Expanded Resources to Help Get Kids Preschool-Ready

    NEW YORK, NY – Following the release of a new policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics(AAP), which prescribes reading aloud to children starting at birth, Scholastic is kicking off the …

  • Maureen Johnson Releases ‘Shades of London’ Short Story on Wattpad

    New York, NY — Putnam Children’s Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, is pleased to announce the release of a new story by New York Timesbestselling author Maureen Johnson. …

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