Diversity Digest – October 2014

Welcome to another installment of our Diversity Digest! October has been jam-packed with diversity news, posts, and a zillion awesome book cover reveals, but I want to start off by giving a tip of the hat to DiYA co-founder Cindy Pon who orchestrated our first-ever theme month, focusing on middle grade books.

Diversity in YA obviously focuses on YA, but many librarians and readers have asked us for recommendations for books for younger readers, too. If you missed any of our guest posts from wonderful MG authors such as Jacqueline Woodson, Cece Bell, Sharon G. Flake, or Ami Polonsky, you can catch up on all of them here. And while DiYA readers might not read too much MG, please pass the links on to your friends, colleagues, and kids who do!

Diversity in the News

woodson-browngirlThe National Book Award finalists in Young People’s Literature have been announced, and the books are a very diverse bunch: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, Noggin by John Corey Whaley, The Port Chicago 40: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin, Revolution by Deborah Wiles, and Threatened by Eliot Schrefer. Congratulations to all the NBA finalists!

The Guardian reports on modern fairy tale retellings that reinvent tradition, including Neil Gaiman’s new The Sleeper and the Spindle which includes an illustration of a same-sex kiss, and my lesbian retelling of Cinderella, Ash.

CNN takes a stab at what teens will be reading next, and our own Cindy Pon provides some answers, including one that we really hope is true: diversity!

Meanwhile, YA Highway take stock of The Landscape of YA Lit: A State of the Union, and also concludes: diversity!

Think About It

Awards season is now fully upon us, and We Need Diverse Books issued a request for awards judges to remember that some books about minorities contain problematic story lines or representations.

Here’s a long, thoughtful, and detailed interview with Alaya Dawn Johnson (Love Is the Drug, The Summer Prince) at Gay YA.

Corinne Duyvis (Otherbound) asks if diverse characters are only OK as long as they’re not “too diverse” (The Guardian).

Claudia Guadalupe Martinez writes about Pig Park and the Cosmic Race: Diversity and Identity in My New YA Novel at Latin@s in Kid Lit.

Over at YA Highway in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Samantha Mabry writes that “Books help tell us who we are.”

At the end of Banned Books Week, I blogged about a question I get all the time: Have your books been banned? The answer isn’t as simple as you might think.

Two Girls Kissing & Other Covers I Never Thought I’d See

October brought two cover reveals that take lesbian representation to a new level (finally!) in YA. Coming June 30, 2015, is Dahlia Adler’s Under the Lights (Spencer Hill), a contemporary romance about actors in a teen TV show:


And coming July 14, 2015 is Sarah McCarry’s About a Girl (St. Martin’s Griffin), a genre-bending twist on Medea and two girls (who are not white!) falling in love:


Read more about the cover for About a Girl at MTV News.

October also brought a fresh new interpretation on representing gender via the cover for I.W. Gregorio’s None of the Above (Balzer + Bray), coming April 28, 2015:


Read a Q&A with the book’s art director and designer at The Book Smugglers.

Here are a few more covers for upcoming diverse books to keep your eye on:

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What To Read Next

Just in time for Halloween, Lee & Low offers a list of Thirteen Scary YA Books: Diverse Edition.

canales-tequilawormThe Day of the Dead, or El Día de Muertos, is observed in Mexican communities this weekend, and YALSA has some suggestions for YA books that incorporate this holiday.

Stacked put together a YA reading list for Hispanic Heritage Month (it was Sept. 15-Oct. 15) featuring books written by Hispanic authors or featuring Hispanic characters.

Teen Librarian Toolbox rounds up a list of new LGBT YA books released this fall.

Book Riot serves up 5 South Asian YA titles to read as well as a list for Coming Out and Coming of Age: YA LGBTQ Books.

Looking for the best books by or about American Indians? Check out the lists on American Indians in Children’s Literature.

The Guardian offers a UK-focused list of their 50 best culturally diverse children’s books.

Flow charts more your speed than lists? We Need Diverse Books has created a diverse YA flow chart, and here’s one at YALSA’s The Hub focusing on contemporary diverse YA.

Let’s Make a Deal

Here are this month’s new deals for diverse books. If you have sold a diverse book recently (or in the future!) and want to tell us about it, please email us at diversityinya@gmail.com.

charlottehuangGoing Geek by debut author Charlotte Huang has been acquired by Wendy Loggia at Delacorte, for publication in 2016. According to Publishers Weekly, “In the story, a girl is forced to stand up for who she really is – if she even knows – when her friends dump her and she is forced to hang out with the fringe crowd at school.”

Anything Could Happen by debut author Will Walton has been acquired by David Levithan for Scholastic’s PUSH imprint, to be published in summer 2015. According to Publishers Weekly, “The novel follows a gay teen’s coming-of-age in the South, where he must navigate new friendships, small-town traditions, and family history – all while being hopelessly in love with his best friend.”

saenz-benjaminThe Inexplicable Logic of My Heart by Printz Honor author Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe), “a YA novel set in El Paso about family and friendship, life and death,” has been acquired by Anne Hoppe at Clarion Books, for publication in spring 2016 (Publishers Weekly).

Free Diverse Short Fiction Online! No $ Required, Seriously

Inscription Magazine, a free online magazine for teens that focuses on short fantasy and science fiction, is now live. Check out their stories “Lord of Time” by Livia Blackburne and “Anjali” by Rati Mehrotra.

The Book Smugglers have also launched their new online short fiction publishing company, and while their stories aren’t always specifically YA, they are YA-friendly. Check out their first story, part of a series of fairy tale retellings, “Hunting Monsters” by S. L. Huang.

The Advice Roundup: Thoughts on How to Write Diversity

Corinne Duyvis reminds science fiction and fantasy writers to mind their metaphors with regard to disabled people and stereotypes (SF Signal).

kohler-nosurrenderChristine Kohler describes the detailed research she undertook while writing her historical novel No Surrender Soldier, about a Chamorro teen boy, set on Guam in 1972 (Cynsations).

Transgender teens Katie Rain Hill and Arin Andrews talk to Stylite about writing their memoirs.

Here’s a wide-ranging interview with author Annameekee Hesik about writing, publishing, and lesbian YA at Gay YA.

Debut author Adam Silvera offers some advice on how to write gay YA books at CBC Diversity.

The NaNoWriMo blog has been featuring posts all month on how to write diverse books. Check them all out here.

Inside the Publishing Business

The Horn Book hosted a Mind the Gaps Colloquium at Simmons College on Oct. 11, 2014, which focused on diversity and the lack thereof in children’s books. Read the recap from Lee & Low here.

Publishers Weekly held a panel about diversity in children’s publishing at Penguin Random House, featuring Alvina Ling (exeducive editorial director of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), Stacey Barney (senior editor at Penguin/Putnam), and Jason Low (publisher of Lee & Low). Read the (somewhat depressing) report about the panel at PW.

Publishers Weekly also has a pretty thorough roundup of mainstream publishing’s perspectives on diversity in the science fiction and fantasy genres, focusing primarily on adult SFF but also including quite a bit of commentary from children’s and YA publishers: Science Fiction & Fantasy 2014: How Multicultural Is Your Multiverse?.

Last But Not Least

#WeNeedDiverseBooksWe Need Diverse Books has really upped the ante this past month. Not only did it announce a collaboration with School Library Journal and the creation of the Walter Dean Myers Award and Grants for diverse literature, it also launched a $100,000 IndieGogo campaign to fund these and other advocacy efforts.

At only one week into the monthlong fundraising campaign, WNDB has already raised almost half its total goal! Among the perks you could get for donating to WNDB are original holiday notecards, T-shirts, tote bags, agent critiques, and original art by Grace Lin and DiYA’s own Cindy Pon.

If you haven’t donated yet, please consider joining us in supporting WNDB and diversity in YA and children’s literature. Go to IndieGogo to find out more and see all the perks, and #supportWNDB!