The MacMillan Children’s Books Diversify Your Bookshelf Pledge

MacMillan Kids has challenged each of you, as readers, to Diversify Your Bookshelf. As part of the pldge, each month they issue a simple challenge that will result in more diverse reading. In March, the challenge is to read a book by a woman of color.

Easy peasy, I thought. I’ll just pull out one of my library books. Between children’s books, research and pleasure reading, I’ve got 20 books checked out. And that’s counting only the books that I have’t already read. I expected the whole thing to be pretty easy. After all, other than work related books, I request anything and everything that catches my eye. And I do mean everything.

Right now I have picture books, graphic novels, memoir, how-tos, and novels. It was easy enough for me to find a title for young readers. I know the author of the two graphic novels I have is white, so I pulled out the picture books. Christian Robinson is black, but male. Ana Crespo is from Brazil. Rajani LaRocca was born in India. With no problem I found photos for all of these authors. I also have Rural Voices, a YA anthology about rurual life and experiences. Not every essay fits the criteria but several do.

But what about the adult books. I found one book by an Asian man and one by a LatinX man. Their bios and photos made “male” obvious. Him, him, him. But what about the author of African American Lives in St. Louis, 1763-1865 by Dale Edwyna Smith. No author biography. No photo. I Googled the author’s name. I found notes on her acadmic career. I found her book listed several places. Her photo? Nowhere.

I’m persistent so next I did a photo search, I finally found her mother’s obituary. That’s the effort it took to confirm that I had, most likely, found a book by a black woman. Sigh. We need to do so much better.

And that is why this challenge matters.

#booklover #reading #ownvoices