Month: September 2016
The Alliance For Young Artists & Writers Receives Grant From The New York Life Foundation to Support Grieving Teens
NEW YORK, NY – Nearly one in 20 children in the U.S. will lose a parent before the age of 16* – and, now more than ever, there is a …
Contributed by Reyna Grande, Author
I learned to read in English in the 8th grade. As a child immigrant from Mexico struggling to adapt to the American way of life, I had a hard time finding my experiences reflected in the books given to me by my teachers at school or the librarian at the public library. Closest were the works of the Chicana writers I’d read in college, such as Sandra Cisneros and Helena María Viramontes, where I found bits and pieces of myself. But I did not find books that spoke directly to my experience as a child immigrant.
I did find books about adult immigrants and the struggles that adults—like my parents— experience when they arrive in the United States: low paying jobs, abuse and discrimination in the workplace, fear of deportation, struggles to assimilate and learn English, and the hardships of navigating and understanding the nuances of American culture and society. But as a child, wasn’t I as much a part of the immigration narrative? Weren’t my pain and heartbreak, struggles and triumphs, also worth telling? Didn’t I also risk my life and fight just as hard for my dreams?
Why weren’t children’s voices being heard?
I read and I read, though I’d always felt a void—a yearning, a missing piece that I desperately wanted to find. What I wanted most of all: to not feel invisible. Where was the book that spoke to the trauma of being a child immigrant; to being separated from your parents when they go in search of opportunities, leaving you behind as you wait for years; to being afraid that your parents have abandoned you or replaced you with American children; and to running across the border, attempting to evade the ever-watching eyes of border patrol and knowing if you’re caught, you’ll never be reunited with your parents? Where was the book that spoke about the effects of separation and how immigration can turn both parents and children into strangers?
When I complained to my creative writing teacher, she said something that I’ll never forget: “Reyna, sometimes you have to write the book that you want to read.”
And I went home, visualizing that book. I knew in my heart what it was, yet I was frightened. What if I was incapable of writing it? What if I wasn’t a good enough writer? Perhaps I should leave the project to someone else. Surely, one day, someone would write that book. It just couldn’t be me.
One day, the UC Santa Cruz creative writing department hosted an event for Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and invited her to speak about her work to an auditorium full of literature majors and aspiring writers. Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston was the very first author that I met in the flesh! Seeing her on stage made my dream of being a writer feel more real. There she was, a real author standing under the bright stage lights. She was tiny, just as small as I was at 5’0”, but she held herself with such confidence and spoke with such conviction that a minute into her talk, I stopped seeing her as small. She was larger than life and I clung to her every word as she spoke about her memoir, Farewell to Manzanar. Though it was about the effects of the Pearl Harbor bombing on Japanese-Americans, I still related to the story. As a woman of color, I knew what it was like to be marginalized, to constantly have to prove how American I was, and to always have to fight for my right to remain.
When Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston spoke that night, something changed inside me. Watching her talk about how she found the courage to write about her experiences in an internment camp, hearing her answering our questions, then sitting at a table while we all lined up to meet her, shake her hand, and have our books signed, I felt completely and utterly inspired. It was this moment—her book, her words, her presence—that I felt empowered as a woman and writer of color.
Many of the students waiting in line were in tears—especially those students who were Japanese-American—and kept telling her, “Thank you for writing our story. You’ve inspired me to keep fighting.”
And I went home that night thinking about the book inside of me that I wanted to write but was afraid to. I remembered what my creative teacher had said to me, and I knew then that I needed to find the courage to do it.
Now, when I visit school campuses to speak about The Distance Between Us, I am proud to be the writer up on stage inspiring young people to tell their stories. Through my books, I hope I can empower a new generation to find the courage to write the books that they want to read.
Reyna Grande is an award-winning novelist and memoirist. She has received an American Book Award, the El Premio Aztlán Literary Award, and the Latino Book Award. Her second novel, Dancing with Butterflies, received critical acclaim. In 2012, she was a finalist for the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Awards for her memoir The Distance Between Us. Her works have been published internationally in countries such as Norway and South Korea.
Some of Hahn’s favorite book and comics from childhood hailed from countries outside his home in Britain. In order to expand exposure to international voices, Hahn is teaming up with …
CHICAGO, IL — The American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office has been awarded $243,922 by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program …
Despite lower salaries (possibly due to the younger age of female respondents and fewer women occupying higher-paying management positions), women continue to outnumber men in the field. On the diversity …
Authors Pam Muñoz Ryan and Ashley Hope-Perez will receive the Américas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature during a special awards presentation on Thursday, Sept. 22, at 2:30 p.m. …
The following books made the list: Middle Grade Hardcover Dog Man by Dav Pilkey (Scholastic) Moo by Sharon Creech (HarperCollins) Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi (Dutton/Penguin) Young Adult Hardcover A Torch Against …
Retailers cite the community feel of the comic book store as a major factor in encouraging print sales. Physical books are also thought to offer a superior reading experience for heavily-illustrated …
CHICAGO, IL — The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and the Grants Administration Committee are now accepting online applications for the 2017 Maureen Hayes Author/Illustrator Award. This $4,000 …
Hayden remarked on the historic moment and its implications for literacy and equality: As a descendant of people who were denied the right to read, to now have the opportunity …
Candlewick Press Announces Acquisition of Sixth Book in the Best-Selling Timmy Failure Children’s Book Series
SOMERVILLE, MA — Popular cartoonist and author Stephan Pastis continues to strike comic gold with his best-selling middle-grade books starring the most inept kid detective in children’s literature history. Timmy Failure, …
The website, which serves as a companion to Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out (Candlewick Press), features activities and discussion questions designed to engage kids and teens in informed discussions about American …
Every Child a Reader Announces the Launch of National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Gene Luen Yang’s “READING WITHOUT WALLS Challenge” Pilot Program
Beginning this fall, in preparation for the full roll-out of the Reading Without Walls Challenge for summer 2017, Every Child a Reader is testing the campaign at 25 schools and …
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The fifth annual class of the National Student Poets Program (NSPP)—the nation’s highest honor for youth poets— has been announced by the President’s Committee on the Arts …
BookFest @ Bank Street will host best sellers and Caldecott, Pura Belpré, and Newbery recipients to discuss topics in visual literacy New York, NY, September 14, 2016 — On October …
Contributed by Randi Pink, Author
During summer breaks, my mother dropped me and my siblings at the library before she went to work. The first three floors of the library consisted of thousands of books, and the fourth floor housed abstract paintings, still shots, and delicate sculptures. All four floors were skewered by our roller coaster — or escalator — depending on how you looked at it. We had my mother’s eight-hour shift to make ourselves useful, or busy, or seditious, or wild, or all of the above. The bookshelves were our hiding places, magazine quizzes our entertainment, and frustrated librarians our complimentary babysitters.
Back then, I was a reluctant reader in every sense of the word. Even bored in a library, I rebelled against the written word. During especially dull lunch hours, I’d ditch my siblings and snake my way through the bookshelves, sliding my index finger along the spines in search of little black superheroes, or fairies, or Cinderellas. But I rarely found them. Rosa Parks was there. Harriet Tubman was there. They were usually displayed on the front most round tables marked “Black History.” The learn something tables, as I called them. Today, I would inhale those books, but as an eleven-year-old girl, I wanted little black superheroes, or fairies, or Cinderellas. I wanted to read for pleasure, not work. It nagged me. Bugged me. It got on my nerves that I didn’t adequately see myself in that giant library. So I did what any eleven-year-old girl would do, I wrote my own stories.
And I kept writing my own stories throughout high school, then undergrad, and then graduate school, but they were for my eyes only. Not because they weren’t any good; they were quite fabulous, actually. I didn’t share them because any success as a writer felt like a pipe dream. I wasn’t as exceptionally brave as Harriet, or as steadfast as Rosa, so I didn’t think there was space for me on the bookshelf. I didn’t see myself in that massive library as a child; therefore, on some level, I didn’t think I belonged there. Many young writers of color quietly struggle with this conundrum, maybe even unconsciously. Lack of representation breeds lack of participation. Still somehow, I fought through that mentality, stamping out decades of doubt with willpower I didn’t know that I had. I decided to take control. I began reading everything I could get my hands on, and quickly fell in love with the written word, especially the novel.
I’d always wanted to write a novel and had lazily written a few chapters here and there. In my late twenties, I started to realize that my years were flying by with little progress. The ball would drop on New Year’s Eve, and seemingly a month later, the ball would drop again with no decipherable novel in hand. So I set the firm intention and wrote the novel I wanted to write.
To start, I silenced the eleven-year-old kid in my head. Although she’s a goldmine of mischief and adventure, she instigated self-doubt, and there was no room for that. I put tape on her mouth and shut her out for as long as it took. Then, I got to work. I signed up for a children’s literature course to find out all the things I didn’t know about writing – technique, conferences, and writing programs. I attended every children’s writing conference within driving distance to be in the priceless presence of other creative minds. But above all, I wrote. I wrote at home, school, Sunday school. I wrote everywhere, even in places I had no business writing, I still wrote.
Looking back, I can’t adequately articulate what propelled me to set such a lofty aim, tear down that twenty-year-old wall, and throw myself into the unknown territory of publication. It took guts. I’m proud of that.
I’ve since revisited my summer library. The escalator, or roller coaster depending on how you look at it, has been out of order for a while. And most of the kids hang in the computer labs instead of near the bookshelves as we did. Aside from that, it’s exactly the same. One welcomed change: I found more little black faces on the covers of children’s books. There’s still a long way to go, but I did find them, and that certainly counts for something.
Randi Pink grew up in the South and attended a mostly white high school. She lives with her husband and their two rescue dogs in Birmingham, Alabama, where she works for a branch of National Public Radio. Into White is her fiction debut.
The imprint is set to launch in summer 2018, led by Riordan’s editor, Stephanie Owens Lurie. The mission of Rick Riordan Presents will be to ‘find, nurture, and promote the best storytellers …
New York, NY – September 13, 2016 – Temple Grandin, master innovator and author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Animals in Translation, will publish a hands-on, fun-filled, thought-provoking …
New York, NY – Art lovers and picture book enthusiasts are in for a treat when The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art launches its eighth annual Carle Honors Art …
Born in Wales to Norwegian parents, Dahl spent his early years in Llandaff. After receiving his boarding school education, Dahl traveled the world through his work at Shell Oil. He saw …