Month: September 2014
Evangelical Christian Woman Writes ‘Family-Friendly Harry Potter’ Fan Fiction
This stay-at-home mother decided to try her hand at writing after receiving requests from her kids for permission to read J.K. Rowling’s beloved books. Grace Ann did not want to expose her …
A California School District Committee Bans ‘The Fault in Our Stars’
“The vote was taken after parent Karen Krueger made her case to the committee and asked its members – teachers, parents, a principal, librarian and instructional services specialist – to …
Kate DiCamillo Visits Students in Sioux Falls
During a question and answer session, she offered advice for aspiring writers: You have to read as much as you can, and you should be thrilled to get that assignment if …
Gregory Maguire Talks About The Importance of Fairy Tales
I think the more Google-fied we become, the more we believe that there’s a factual interpretation for everything, and the more we rely on our skepticism and become immune to …
Call for Papers and Programs for YALSA’s 2015 Symposium
YALSA welcomes proposals in the following categories: Programming Collections Digital and Print Literacy Youth Participation Spaces (physical and virtual) Partnering/Collaborations Interested parties are invited to propose 90-minute programs centering on the theme, …
Delacorte Press Announces the Publication of a New Book in the #1 New York Times Bestselling Maze Runner Series by James Dashner
New York, NY — Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, will publish the fifth novel in James Dashner’s #1 New York Timesbestselling Maze Runner series, which has sold …
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art Announces 2014 Carle Honors Honorees
Amherst, MA — The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is pleased to announce the 2014 Carle Honors honorees to be awarded at Guastavino’s in New York City on Thursday, September 18, 2014. The ninth …
Derek Jeter & Paul Mantell Co-Write a Middle Grade Novel
“His inspirational children’s novel, The Contract, is set to go on sale Tuesday, the first title off the presses of his new company, Jeter Publishing, an imprint of Simon & …
Happy Birthday to Jim Henson!
Growing up in Maryland, Henson discovered a passion for comedy. By the time he was a student in college, he was offered his own 5-minute show on WRC-TV. Sam and Friends introduced the …
Enter the 2014 Galactic Academy of Science Book Club Contest!
Tumblehome Learning, an emerging publisher of children’s science books based in Boston, Massachusetts, announced today a contest to promote the creation of science book and activity clubs for kids ages …
Elizabeth Eulberg Writes 3 Short Stories & 1 Sequel Novel For ‘The Lonely Hearts Club’
Leading up to the release, fans can read three Lonely Hearts Club digital short stories for free. “A Hard Day’s Night” will be unleashed on October 1, 2014, “Two Of …
National Coalition Against Censorship Announces Winners of Cameron Post Essay Contest
NEW YORK, NY – The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) is proud to announce the winners of its essay contest about emily m. danforth’s novel, The Miseducation of Cameron Post. The winning essays are a compelling, …
Cartoon Network Partners With Penguin Young Readers Group On New Book Imprint
New York, NY — It was announced today that Cartoon Network will launch an eponymous imprint with Penguin Young Readers Group in summer 2015. The new “Cartoon Network Books” imprint will …
Happy Birthday, Esphyr Slobodkina!
Caps for Sale remains a favorite in the genre, having sold over two million copies. It has been translated into more than a dozen languages. The book’s repetition and humor make it a …
Call for 2015 Carter G. Woodson Book Award Nominations
Eligibility Requirements: Must be a nonfiction book published in 2014 Elementary (grades K-6), middle (grades 5-8) or secondary (grades 7-12) level title Discusses the experience of one or more racial/ethnic …
Should Educators Allow Independent Reading in the Classroom?
Through independent reading children gain a wealth of background knowledge about many different things, come to understand story and non-fiction structures, absorb the essentials of English grammar, and continuously expand …
Kids Set a New World Record – Reading 304,749,681 Minutes in the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge
NEW YORK, NY – Children worldwide set a new world record for summer reading by logging 304,749,681 million minutes in the 8th annual Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge (between May 5, 2014 and September 5, …
Adam Shankman to Collaborate With Laura L. Sullivan On a YA Project
“In Shankman and Sullivan’s reimagining, set in Hollywood’s Golden Age, Lulu is a once-poor teen from New York City who, after a lucky break, finds herself working in Los Angeles …
Diversity 101: Gay in YA
Contributed to CBC Diversity by Adam Silvera
When writing diverse books, we’re writing about choices—and the things we can’t choose. Harry Potter could have chosen not to go to Hogwarts, but spending the rest of his youth with the incorrigible Dursleys would’ve sucked for all involved—Harry, the Dursleys, and the readers who became readers because of the boy wizard. Katniss Everdeen didn’t have to volunteer as tribute in The Hunger Games in place of Prim, but life in District 12 was bleak enough without watching someone act like her younger sister’s name wasn’t announced for a battle to the death. There are choices characters—and people—make because the alternative is simply unspeakable. But then there are the ones who don’t have a choice at all. They don’t choose to be Latino, they don’t choose mental illness, they don’t choose their sexual orientation. Who gives them a voice? I, along with many others, volunteer as tribute.
I didn’t choose to be gay, but I’m happy I am because I would’ve never chosen this for myself, especially while growing up in the South Bronx. I wanted to explore this while writing my debut novel, More Happy Than Not, about a 16-year-old boy who wants to forget he’s gay with the help of a new memory-alteration procedure that’s recently become available to the public. If given the choice at sixteen to be straight, I think I would’ve taken it. I wouldn’t have to worry about coming out and whether or not my friends would accept me—I would be “normal.” Of course I later realized I was normal back then, just wired differently from what’s recognized as “normal.” Still, the desire to be in that “normal” category was strong.
I turned to books for guidance in my teen years, but the few books I dared to check out—I won’t out which ones they are—didn’t create an experience that was reflective of mine or even seemed legit. Not every book or film or TV show can recreate your childhood or a time of your life piece by piece, but if we want empathy for our differences, I think a first step is being conscious of creating a universal experience to unite us all instead of building walls like some exclusive clubhouse. And I think the universal experience is just a good story about identity.
Stereotypes to Watch
But that’s where things get messy because discovering who we are is messy business. And if you’re not gay but want to write characters who are, don’t simply turn to current gay culture to craft your character. Common mistakes include gay guys being automatically interested in fashion and Lady Gaga, and lesbian girls competing in sports or fighting all the time. Guess what: you can be a straight guy who cares about your appearance or a straight girl who’s a ninja. The only thing that separates a straight person from a gay person is their respective attractions. That’s all. Put away the “Creating A Gayer Gay Character” checklist and whip out the “Creating A Fully Realized Character” checklist and ask yourself who the character is, not just who the character kisses.
Applause for the Below
Below is a list of novels that hit all the right chords for me: the characters aren’t token gays, their storylines move beyond their sexuality, and they’re just damn good. If you’re not already obsessed with them as I am, I hope you check them out. (Note: A number of the authors below writing about gay characters are straight. Imagine that.)
1. THE CLASSIC
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz.
I read this book twice within six months and it’s one of my all-time favorite novels. I related to Ari, an angry teen who deep down has an idea on who he is, but doesn’t accept himself, even when he meets the unforgettable Dante. From friendship to love, mysteries to discoveries, this book is a classic coming-of-age and coming out story.
2. TEENAGER WHO SHRUGS OFF BEING GAY
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (April 7th, 2015)
Put this book on your radar now because this is another novel I’m pissed I didn’t have as a teen. The cliché of gay teenagers hating being gay is probably left over from more intolerant times, but Becky Albertalli flips the script. Sixteen-year-old Simon Spier is at risk of being outed by a classmate, which pisses him off because no one really likes being blackmailed, but it’s not because he’s ashamed of being gay as it is about Simon moving at his own speed. And I love how Simon believes everyone should have to come out, gay and straight. This novel tackles identity with hilarity and wisdom.
3. WINNER OF GIVING CONVENTIONS THE BIRD
Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
Astrid Jones isn’t sure what to do with all the love inside of her so she plays a game where she sends love to passengers on overhead planes. Astrid and her friends are fully drawn out by the skilled hand of A.S. King—the same hand she uses to flip off the way society tries boxing people with labels.
4. STRAIGHT BOLD
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
So we’ve seen this cover, right? The photograph of two boys kissing? I’m ashamed to admit I took the book jacket off while reading it on the subway because I still carry around a fear I hope future generations won’t have to experience, but I applaud how brave and enlightening this Lambda-Award winning novel is. If David Levithan wants to write Two Boys Kissing 2/Two Boys (Still) Kissing/Two More Boys Kissing, whatever, I’ll be just as fearless as this novel and proudly rock the jacket next time.
5. THE BFFS WHO ARE GAY BUT AREN’T THE GAY BFFS
Noggin by John Corey Whaley and Winger by Andrew Smith
Kyle in Corey Whaley’s surreal Noggin and Joey in Andrew Smith’s extraordinary Winger are close friends to their respective narrators, but they are both so layered they could’ve easily had their own books. Many times secondary characters who happen to be gay are hopelessly cliché and one dimensional, but not Kyle and Joey. (Someone get to work on the Kyle/Joey buddy cop movie, please.)
Adam Silvera is the young adult author of More Happy Than Not, due out from Soho Teen on June 16th, 2015. He is tall for no reason and can be found online at adamsilverawrites.com and on twitter @adamsilvera.
Cassandra Clare & Holly Black On the Importance of Diversity
“One of the things I get most often in terms of letters from kids is: ‘Could you write a kid like me?’ Which incorporates the spectrum of diversity—a character of …