Month: June 2015
James Patterson Increases School Library Donation Pledge to $1.75 Million
The team at the Scholastic Reading Club will join Patterson in his charitable efforts. This organization has promised to match each grant dollar with bonus points which will be gifted to the …
Original 'Madeline' Paintings Sold at Auction
Bemelmans’ charming, color-saturated illustrations undeniably set the books apart…Bemelmans’ art conjures a childlike, fairy tale world, where being different makes a little girl special and celebrated, and where the world …
Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators Partners with We Need Diverse Books on Summer Internship Program
Membership in SCBWI will provide these first five interns with broad networking opportunities within the publishing industry. SCBWI regional, national, and international conferences bring together a who’s who of publishing …
Love Wins, but I’m on Deadline
Contributed to CBC Diversity by Tim Federle
Well, on Friday I woke up in California to the news that Love Won today, and before I’d even had my coffee. California, because I’m here for the American Library Association meeting, where I’m signing swag and even picking up an audiobook honor for narrating my novel Five, Six, Seven, Nate! — which, yes, features a kiss between two middle school boys, and thus qualifies as “The LGBT, and Sometimes Y-Category!” of diversity.
Which I’m extremely grateful for.
But this marriage equality news also came at a VERY tricky time, because all I’ve wanted to do all day is scroll through Twitter and Facebook, and occasionally even pop over to Fox News to see what slant they’re putting on it, BUT I promised I’d write a CBC Diversity Post due TODAY, and I’ve been thinking: “But what about?” What can I say that hasn’t been said before, by brilliantly diverse people who are better writers than I’ll ever be?
And then it came to me: I’ll write a Buzzfeed-like list-icle, which is my secret weapon these days for tricking myself into starting and finishing things. I cannot possibly come up with enough good ideas to write another guest blog post, let alone a new novel (don’t tell my editor), but I CAN write the Top 5 Things Diversity Means to Me.
- Diversity means telling the truth.
- Diversity means being part of a community.
- Diversity can mean push-back!
- Diversity means the future.
- Diversity means telling the story only you can tell.
Diversity means that when I sat down to write Better Nate Than Ever I never consciously thought, “Ooh, I should include a gay character in this section.” It just was. It had to be. I was writing about the theater, about a younger version of myself who is obsessed with Broadway and dreams of getting to a place that might fully embrace him for all of his quirks. So, duh. Diversity wasn’t a political act, diversity was just midtown Manhattan at rush hour. Diversity meant populating Nate’s story with people whom he’d really come across along the way, namely: bullies young and old, friends black and white, allies gay and straight.
It has been thrilling to watch the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement go from hashtag to action. I feel lucky to be the smallest part of it (I’m only 5’7”), and to lend my voice to the G of the LGBT spectrum. The children’s book community—from writers to editors to readers to those true civil rights champions: librarians—seems so eager to hang out together these days, to commiserate, to swap stories and show off our scars. It can be a vaguely lonely thing to be a writer, sitting around eating macaroons in your boxer shorts and wondering when the elves will arrive to finish your manuscript. To be a novelist in 2015, diverse or otherwise, means going on Twitter when you’re SUPPOSED to be writing more than 140 characters, and seeing that you are very much not alone.
My own middle school canceled a school visit — and one meant to launch Better Nate Than Ever — only a week before my trip back home. I am certain the cancellation was due to themes in the book (Nate being called a “fag,” for one), and it makes my heart heavy but I understand it, too. School boards are mighty. So are parents. For every 20 messages I receive from young (and not-so-young) people saying “Thank you for writing a realistic character who represents the queer experience,” I also think back on my 1-star Amazon reviews that are written from a place of disgust. Diversity means not everyone is going to like you. But you know what? A primary responsibility of adulthood is recognizing which things are problems and which things are just annoyances. And that’s why God gave us the Mute button. So, yeah: sometimes Diversity means blocking the haters.
Diversity means that someday we might be (nearly?) universally accepting of each other as a society; so multi-colored as to become one color, so comfortable with our sexuality and love for one another that we’ll have to scratch our heads and look up the Wikipedia entry for “Stonewall riots,” and recall that they weren’t merely science fiction. If DIVERGENT and HUNGER GAMES are the ultimate YA dystopians, perhaps Diversity is writing toward a type of utopia.
Diversity means closing your eyes and trying to transcribe, in as lyrical or comical or whatever-ical a way as you can, the way you’ve seen the world or the way you’d like to see it. Diversity means, literally, according to the dictionary, variety. And that means if a bookstore had a “Diverse Books” section — and many are starting to! — we might see a few shelves that cover the widest spectrum in the entire shop, from the way people look to the way they’re treated to the way they feel about themselves. And in that sense, diversity means the real world.
One last little note, before I jump into ALA festivities and attempt to wear a rainbow boa without sneezing: Diversity is an important topic, but it doesn’t have to be held with a reverence that makes people nervous around it. You’re allowed to find the funny in diversity. I know I do. I have to. If I hadn’t found laughter in my life — whether as a kid, who was always the last one picked for dodgeball, or as an adult, who still gets occasional sneers if I hold my (imaginary) boyfriend’s hand in public — then I’m not sure I’d have made it to this day. The one where I’ve got an open document in another tab, waiting to tell another story, starting on page 1.
I’m not necessarily PLANNING on writing a “diverse book,” but I am planning on writing realistic fiction — which is basically the same thing, you know? And thank goodness for that.
Tim Federle’s debut novel, Better Nate Than Ever, was named a New York Times Notable Children’s Book of 2013 and an ALA Stonewall Honor Book. Five, Six, Seven, Nate!, the sequel to Better Nate Than Ever, was named a Best Book of 2014 by the American Booksellers Association, and won the Lambda Literary Award. Say hi at TimFederle.com and connect on Twitter and Instagram @TimFederle.
- Diversity means telling the truth.
The New York Public Library To Offer an Outdoor Reading Room At Its Iconic 42nd Street Building
New York, NY — This summer, New Yorkers can visit far away, fantastic places – right from the comfort of midtown Manhattan. The New York Public Library is opening “The Outdoor …
Summer Reading Can Help Kids Develop Five Skills
All [of these activities] can be easily built into a family’s routine, and many can become natural parts of conversations with children…The information is geared toward helping children from birth …
Historic Investment by New York City Allows Public Libraries To Offer Citywide Six-Day Service
JUNE 26, 2015 — New York City’s public libraries will offer six-day service for the first time in nearly a decade thanks to a $43 million increase in operating funding in …
Little, Brown Books For Young Readers to Publish Sherman Alexie's Debut Picture Book—Thunder Boy Jr. With Illustrations By Caldecott Honor Artist Yuyi Morales
New York, NY — Megan Tingley, Executive Vice President and Publisher of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, announced today the upcoming publication of Thunder Boy Jr., the debut picture book …
Sherri Duskey Rinker and John Rocco to Create a Picture Book About Virginia Lee Burton
Kate O’Sullivan, an editorial director at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, took charge of the acquisitions process. Amy Rennert and Rob Weisbach, two literary agents, negotiated the terms …
Happy 60th Birthday, Miffy!
The inspiration for the now iconic rabbit came to Bruna in 1955 while on a family vacation to Egmond aan Zee in Holland. Every night the family saw the same bunny frolicking in their …
Judith St. George Has Passed On
St. George published her first children’s book, Turncoat Winter, Rebel Spring in 1970, and went on to have an active career over the following decades. She received the Caldecott Medal …
Universal to Adapt 'Let It Snow' For a Movie
The studio plans to release the adaptation in December, 2016. Kay Cannon, the screenwriter behind the two Pitch Perfect movies, has come on board to write the script. (Hypable.com)
Boston Celtics and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Celebrate Student Participation in SCORE with Go Math! Academy Program
BOSTON, MA – Boston Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk, mascot “Lucky” the Leprechaun and Tom Hamilton, Learning Architect in Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Math Studio visited the Collicot Elementary School in Milton, Mass. …
Aladdin to Launch New Series By #1 New York Times Bestselling Dork Diaries Author Rachel Renee Russell
New York, NY — #1 New York Times bestselling Dork Diaries author Rachel Renee Russell will publish a new illustrated book series, it was announced today by Mara Anastas, Vice President, …
Building Community with Family Place Libraries
The Family Place program was first developed by Libraries for the Future, a library advocacy non-profit, in collaboration with the Middle Country Public Library in Centereach, New York. Participating libraries are making …
'Sesame Street' Promotes School Readiness For All
After the initial cost of a television, the program — which fosters literacy and problem-solving — is a free educational resource. Preschool-aged boys who watched the show regularly were found to …
Candlewick Partners With United Through Reading to Celebrate Father's Day
More than 200 recording stations have been set up on board ships, inside tents in Afghanistan, at military bases, and within USO centers. Service members can record a video of …
Disney May Shoot a Third Princess Diaries Film Adaptation
To date, Cabot wrote ten installments for the Princess Diaries young adult series. Recently, HarperCollins released a new Princess Diaries novel, entitled The Princess Diaries, Volume XI: Royal Wedding, which …
Preeti Chhibber: How I Got into Publishing
Senior Editorial Manager for the Teens & BookBeat Scholastic Reading Clubs
I didn’t realize publishing was an actual career until I was a few years into college. Growing up, my mom had been clear that I was the one who would be a doctor (with my brother the lawyer and my sister the accountant*). It should be noted that I’m not good at math or science.
Unfortunately for my mother, when I was fourteen, she gave me a copy of The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone. It’s a heavily romanticized version of Michelangelo’s life. Beyond that, it’s about loving your work, and being passionate about what you do. He sacrificed everything to able to create and carve. Agony became a book that I read once a year. (I think we can agree that what comes next is pretty much my mom’s fault.)
Two things happened after my freshman year of college. I’d floundered through one year of pre-med and hadn’t done well (remember? Not good at math or science). Not long after grades were released, I had a conversation with my older brother. He had just met someone who worked at Tor and immediately thought of his nerdy sister who read all the time. He suggested I talk with her. I thought of Agony. I thought about books. I knew that in my life, reading was the thing that excited me most. This was the lead-in to the Big Change: I became an English major.
It’s not carving marble, but telling your Indian parents that you’re not going to be the doctor they spent 19 years expecting to have? Terrifying.
They took solace in the fact that maybe I could still be a lawyer. Ha! It’s a difficult thing, breaking up with your parent’s idea of the future for something new and different.
I did end up talking with my brother’s friend, and after a reading report on the longest sci-fi book of all time and a few interviews, I ended up getting an internship at Tor. I spent the summer before my senior year sitting next to Teresa Nielsen Hayden, sharing one desk with a fellow intern, and reading unsolicited manuscripts. Oh, also, I met ROBERT JORDAN and decided I was going to get into publishing if it killed me. I loved being around books, I loved reading the manuscripts, I loved talking about what I was reading.
Despite having an internship under my belt, it was not an easy move to jump from undergrad in Florida straight into a paying publishing gig in New York. I applied and got into NYU’s Masters in Publishing program, with every intention of using it to get that editor job that had been my dream. I started out as a sales assistant at McGraw-Hill, in their trade publications division. One year later, I accepted a position at Scholastic Reading Club (née Scholastic Book Clubs) as an editorial assistant for their SeeSaw book club.
Working in children’s books changed everything. It was a world where we had conversations about snot and teddy bears and princesses… at work. After a few years of working on picture books and early readers we sold in the catalog, I moved over to marketing chapter books and middle-grade in the school market. While in this position, I pushed for more social and digital marketing for all levels, and started to see that I really enjoyed talking about and recommending books. Who knew that there was a job talking about books and how much you love them??
In my experience, people who work in publishing are inherently passionate about what they do. They are here because they love it. Every position I’ve held has been about having the opportunity to go to work and be excited about what I do. It took me a few years and as many position-moves to realize that my true love in children’s books was YA. After moving to Book Clubs marketing, I got a job in trade and school & library marketing at HarperCollins Children’s Books, and just recently made my way back to Scholastic, seven years after I first started, to be the Teens and Adult book buyer for the Reading Club.
It’s kind of a dream job. And while every day isn’t perfect, and there are always things you have to do that you might not want to do (ahem, P&Ls), I get paid to read… as part of my job. And then I get to tell people to buy and read the books that I love. That is straight-up magical.
*My poor (and now very proud) mom ended up with an actor, a kid in publishing, and a graphic designer.
Preeti Chhibber is currently the Senior Editorial Manager for the Teens & BookBeat Scholastic Reading Clubs in New York, NY. She earned her B.A. in English at the University of Florida and her M.S. in Publishing at New York University. Hailing from West Palm Beach, Fl, she is a contributing writer for Book Riot and Panels.Net as well as a co-host on the Bookrageous and Oh, Comics! podcasts.
Inside the Author's Studio with Kate DiCamillo
The author read from her latest book, Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures and shared the real-life inspiration behind the novel, including her late mother’s vacuum cleaner, and an ailing …