This month we're looking at the new year.
So many things are happening in the world and my life. I could talk about the way the Global Warming and the way the weather continues to change, only not for the better. Or about the political situation and the new Illinois Governor who apparently forgot that "raise your right hands" means the real right, not the left. I could do the state of the economy, extremist threats, any of a dozen things that are going wrong.
Instead, I'll blog about something personal.
In less than two months I will be a Grandma!! How's that for earth shattering? The girl who never wanted to live past 50 (seriously, at 13 I made a vow to die before 50 first because old people were so decrepit and useless they probably all wished they were dead anyway. At 49 1/2 I almost went crazy from fear of a self-fulfilling prophecy) will now be a social security collecting Grandma. Of course, my younger sister has a grandchild who just won a college scholarship, so I'm actually a little slow.
|Mother & Child|
We know my grandchild will be a girl. Unless she chooses to enter the world early she will be a Pisces, like me. I thought I could wait forever for this day. My daughter has some issues, and I was perfectly happy to have her delay motherhood while she struggled to mature and find herself. Now I can't wait for the kid to get old enough so I can sit her on my lap and show her the naked baby pictures I took of her mother.
This also means I have to go shopping for books. Twenty-six years ago when my daughter was born, I had a quest to make sure she had plenty of diverse books to read. I got started early, because those books were hard to find, seldom published and marketing departments did not know what to do with them when they were published. If you wanted one it was up to you to search. So search I did, and I amassed a collection of books with Black, Hispanic and even disabled kids (and that last was a HUGE challenge). Those books entertained my daughter, and later my niece, the one headed for college. BTW - that one still calls me "Beloved Aunt Barbara." Not because of the books, she wasn't always happy about getting books for presents. It's because I started training her before she could talk. Her mother laughed at me but she still knows what to call me.
And now I begin the cycle again. It does feel wrong to find that, a quarter century later, finding a supply of diverse books still needs a long hard search. Big publishers still put out a paltry number, and their marketing departments still don't know how to market them. Instead they still claim "those people don't read" as their excuse for not being able to reach out to the marketplace. As one of those people, I guarantee we, and our children, do read. We're just not all that satisfied with what the big publishers put out. As an adult I long ago tired of romance books where heroes extolled the virtues of women with alabaster skin. (I actually informed an editor of this once and she seemed didn't seem to understand that have only alabaster skinned heroines considered beautiful could be a problem for any reader.) I don't remember everything I thought about the book selection when I was a child, those days are lost in fuzzy pre-history, but I know I got tired of the white on the pages then too. My mission is to make sure that my grandkid never gets the feeling that books are not for her. I want her to read voraciously, no matter what big publisher marketing departments claim. I want her to see people of every race and ethnicity in her books, people with physical disabilities and from a variety of cultures. There may be a few fairies and leprechauns and aliens there too, but mostly I want her to see her world and her place in that world. So my quest for diverse kids books has already begun, even before she enters the world.
I don't have much time. By this time next year I'll have her on my lap, reading her stories. I want those stories to reflect the world she sees around her, just as I want my adult reads to reflect today's world. I will be at both the American Library Association meeting later this month in Chicago, and as SCBWI in February, on the lookout for diverse books and authors. I was recently thrilled to recieve and accept an invitation to join the We Need Diverse Books team at http://weneeddiversebooks.org.
As part of my December post I held a contest to let a lucky reader of one of my blogs win a free spot on Adding the Spice of Diversity to Your Writing, an online writing class that begins in February. I call it adding the spice because spice doesn't change an entree, it enhances things. Diversity is a choice that allows the same plot and and adds a little something extra for readers.
The winner of the free spot was Patricia M. You can see the results here.
Patricia has been contacted and will be enrolled in the class for February.