This week’s diverse new releases are:

Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum (Viking Juvenile)

“This powerful, well-researched work examines the Stonewall riots, which took place in 1969 in New York City when members of the gay community fought back in response to a police raid on a gay bar. … Quoting from a variety of firsthand sources (journalists, bar patrons, cops, and others), Bausum paints a vivid picture of the three nights of rioting that became the focal point for activists … Bausum describes the growth of gay and lesbian activism, setbacks, the impact of HIV/AIDS, and issues such as gays in the military and same-sex marriage, bringing readers to the present day and expertly putting these struggles into historical context.” — School Library Journal, starred review

Undertow by Michael Buckley (HMH Books for Young Readers)

“In his first YA novel, Buckley delivers a solidly entertaining adventure with the perfect amount of romance and danger. … Lyric Walker used to be a "wild thing.” At 14, she and her friends ruled the dilapidated beach community of Coney Island in Brooklyn, NY. Then one night, Lyric witnesses the arrival of the Alpha, strange creatures from the depths of the ocean, and learns a terrible secret her family has been keeping from her. … Sharp political commentary and strong parallels to the treatment of minorities in the U.S. ground the world in reality, while the well-rounded and ethnically diverse supporting cast will cause readers to root for them.“ — School Library Journal, starred review

School Library Journal has a kickass new Diversity Issue—the second in their history. The stories are just about as relevant as you can get:

Q. You’ve said previously that Reading Rainbow was the hardest, most rewarding thing you’ve done in show business. Is that still true for you?

A. I had to learn a new business. I had to learn the technology business. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. When you think about reinventing a well-known and beloved brand, the thing that kept us up nights was the fear of failing to meet expectations. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done…and the most rewarding. I love that I am able to focus at this point in my life on the mission, the continuing mission, of getting kids excited about literature and reading.

Flying Twice as High: Reading Rainbow 2.0 | SLJ Talks to LeVar Burton - The Digital Shift

Isla and the Happily Ever After has received a *starred review* from School Library Journal:

“Fans will relish appearances by characters from Perkins’s Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door in this sweet, charming series third that will make readers feel like they’re in Paris too. Realistic characters, spot-on dialogue, and a truly delightful romance make for a novel that will delight the author’s fans and win her legions of new ones.”

Huzzah! Thank you, SLJ!

an interview, a backyard, and of course, a trampoline.

Here’s an interview I did for School Library Journal plus a few photos from the backyard. Forget the books – look at the blood, sweat and tears in the paint job on that cubby house…So nice talking to Angela Carstensen, and a great hour or two with James Horan. Check out his latest (and brilliant) photo exhibition, ‘Irish Horse’, here:

As for what to take out of this interview?

I’m so glad one of my dogs ate all the protective crap around the trampoline…

Vanishing Girls Reviewed by School Library Journal!

Different as night and day, sisters Nick and Dara are practically joined at the hip. Nick is perpetually the cool and calm older one who calls the shots. Dara is always tagging along, longing to be in the spotlight. That was before the accident that left Dara injured and Nick shaken to the core. Now, the siblings barely speak to each other; they live together but never cross paths. Nick gets a job at a local amusement park and begins to interact with people again, mostly with her longtime best friend, but also with her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Parker. As the summer continues, a young local girl goes missing and Nick finds herself getting more involved with the ensuing drama than she ever expected. The situation comes to a boiling point at Dara’s birthday dinner when she disappears too, and it’s up to Nick to piece the story together and discover what has happened to her sister. Like in her “Delirium” series and Before I Fall (2010, both HarperCollins), Oliver’s characterizations and background stories are well-developed and compulsively readable. The relationship between Nick and Dara drives the plot and is very realistic. The twist the author incorporates at the end is dramatic without being absurd and was completely unexpected. Recommend to teens looking for a well-written work with a juicy ending. They will not be disappointed.–Morgan Brickey, Marion County Public Library System, FL

Persepolis’ Restored to Chicago School Libraries; Classroom Access Still Restricted | School Library Journal

Barbara Jones, director of ALA’s OIF and FTRF executive director, responded in a letter addressed jointly to Byrd-Bennett; David Vitale, president of the Chicago Board of Education; and Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago, seeking an explanation and urging that the book be returned to classrooms. “While we applaud the CPS Department of Libraries for adhering to its own very well-crafted policies on school library collection development…we remain exceedingly troubled by the standing directive to remove the book from classrooms,” Jones said.

Jones also called the directive to restrict access “a heavy-handed denial of students’ rights to access information” that “smacks of censorship.”

The collaboration between We Need Diverse Books and School Library Journal will involve a variety of initiatives concerning diversity in children’s literature, including an event during the 2016 ALA Midwinter Meeting.

More exciting news! So much going on and it’s all great! Thanks SLJ!

But the opportunities are myriad if we view patrons as whole people with needs beyond what any one department or service point can offer. For example, we must collaborate with fluidity and serve college students who also need life-skill support—or even pleasure reading. If we work to create this kind of culture, provide this kind of service, everyone will benefit.

The End of Turf | Editorial, by Rebecca Miller

Rebecca’s first editorial as libraryjournal & schoollibraryjournal’s joint EIC is a fiercely intelligent thing of beauty. 

In an informal study of the top banned books since 2000, young adult author and Diversity in YA cofounder Malinda Lo reveals that 52 percent of challenged titles have diverse content or are written by a diverse author.

In an e-mail to School Library Journal Malinda Lo comments on the reaction she received after sharing her research publicly:

“I’ve been very gratified by the positive response to the post, and I hope it makes everyone involved with censorship issues look beyond the stated reasons for a book challenge, because I suspect those publicly stated reasons are sometimes hiding ulterior motives.”



SLJ’s Karyn Peterson chatted with LeVar Burton about Reading Rainbow’s new initiatives.

Stay tuned for the article!

Swoon. Seriously. I don’t think I could handle meeting LeVar. I tried to explain this to some of my coworkers yesterday and ended up describing for like five minutes the scene in Star Trek: Insurrection where Geordi sees a sunset for the first time. So, basically:

The diversity gap in children’s books and publishing isn’t new, but 2014 saw it confronted with unprecedented energy. A group of authors for children and teens together assembled a virtual call to arms that is likely to influence the face of publishing for years to come.

Gotta admit, that’s a pretty cool team picture. Thanks again Library Journal for considering We Need Diverse Books one of the Movers & Shakers along with so many wonderful educators, librarians, and activists around the country.


This blog post, Sesame Visits Rikers Island, is really powerful. They’ve developed a bilingual toolkit for parents, caregivers, kids, teachers & librarians to use, Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration

At a time when 1 in 28 children in America has an incarcerated parent, there are many things public libraries and library staff can do to help kids, parents and other caregivers. We talked about this a lot at the Public Library Think Tank hosted by School Library Journal in April. Nicholas Higgins is the Director of Community Outreach for NYPL and he spoke very movingly about the work that NYPL does at Rikers Island. You can read more about it here: Prison Libraries: Public Service Inside & Out.

Without media specialists in the schools, the district is scrambling to find other ways to give students the library access that they need. Elyria is planning to work with the local public libraries to see how they might be able to step in with electronic links or even bookmobiles, says Stephens. In addition, principals will be asked to run libraries, with teachers then managing students in the libraries, he adds.

“They’re expensive for us to run,” he says of school libraries. “We want students to have access but not spend as much money on them.”

The library is not just about access to the resources, it’s about access to competent information professionals that can teach students.

I also find the personal element, knowing your students, to be so important. As much as the public library may be able to help, it’s not going to be the same as having a professional in the school.

This makes me feel ill.