January 2007 Archives

The Ethnic Book Awards Debate

This week's book awards reminds me to post about a series of interesting pieces that came out a few weeks ago on the subject of ethnic books awards. The first I had heard about it was from Read Roger, who provided some useful links and started a very interesting discussion in the comments. The arguments for and against having book awards specifically for authors of a certain ethnicity sound very much like those regarding affirmative action. While many believe that is the only way to "level the playing field," others believe that it is the wrong way to solve the problem.

Links to some wonderfully thoughtful pieces on the subject:
Marc Aronson
Andrea Davis Pinkney
Mitali Perkins

I'm no authority. I hadn't even thought about this problem until a few weeks ago. But it seems to me that an ethnic literary award's goal ought to be to recognize and publicize quality books about different cultures, and not necessarily their authors. I like the idea of requiring books to be about a certain culture or ethnic group in order to qualify for an award rather than requiring the author to be of a certain ethnicity. If the goal is to celebrate diversity in literature, then the literature should be the first and foremost consideration.

ABC Takes the Printz

The ALA Book Awards were announced today, with the usual spotlight on the Newbery and Caldecott Awards. But there was good news for American Born Chinese by Gene Yang. It took the Michael L. Printz Award honoring literary excellence in books for young adults. Runners up included such powerhouses as The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing and The Book Thief. Wow, how about that!

Not Just Multicultural, But Multiethnic Too

Who knew there were so many amazing organizations out there doing wonderful things? I just found the Multiethnic Education Program based in Berkeley, California. According to their web site, "The Multiethnic Education Program provides educators and families culturally competent resources and strategies for our increasingly diverse society." They do training, provide workshops, and produce materials for educator use.

They've even produced a film called "My People Are... Youth Pride in Mixed Heritage" that promotes positive racial & ethnic identity in ALL children, highlighting the multiracial experience. It will premier on Feb. 3rd and 4th in Oakland. You can buy tickets from their website.

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Blog Contributors

Renee Ting is the President and Publisher of Shen's Books. She is the author of The Prince's Diary and the blog, Renee's Book of the Day.

Emily Jiang is a writer of children's and YA literature. She also blogs at TLeaf Readings.

Shen’s Books is a publisher of multicultural children’s literature that emphasizes cultural diversity and tolerance, with a focus on introducing children to the cultures of Asia.

Through books, we can share a world a stories, building greater understanding and tolerance within our increasingly diverse communities as well as throughout our continuously shrinking globe.


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