Reflecting on 2018

Image result for new year imageThe idea for this blog came to me when I was driving home from work with my three-year-old who was telling me stories about his day from the backseat of my Mazda CX5 (nicknamed “The Mom Mobile”). I was distractedly listening while thinking about the limitations of sharing my research about children’s literature only with an academic audience. I’d presented my work about LGBTQ children’s literature at the Children’s Literature Association conference the previous month, and had published a book chapter and a journal article on the subject, but I knew the conversation about kid’s lit was happening beyond academic conferences and publications. I wanted to participate in it.

I have found so many brilliant and generous kid lit scholars through this blog and my Twitter account. Of course, people have been developing lists and reviews of diverse children’s literature to share with parents, educators, and librarians. And, of course, many of these people are parents, educators, and librarians! It’s been wonderful to connect with people who have different experiences and reasons for engaging children’s literature. I’ve had awesome conversations with writers, librarians, and other bloggers. Thank you! I hope folks continue to reach out. I’m always happy to consider books for review and talk about children’s literature with other passionate readers!

I posted my first review, of Jessica Love’s Julián Is a Mermaid, on July 28th. Since then, I have posted dozens of reviews. Most of these reviews focus on books that explore race, gender, sexuality, class, and ability.

I am so excited about how quickly my followers have grown! I think I’ll reach 1500 blog and 1500 Twitter followers by my six month blogaversary on January 28!! I’m also slowly but steadily building a following on GoodReads and Facebook!

One of my most exciting 2018 accomplishments was judging the Cybils Awards. I was a round one judge for easy readers and early chapter books. This meant reading, evaluating, and sometimes reviewing 100 really great books! I appreciated the opportunity and hope to participate in the future!

In 2019, I will be adding middle grade and young adult book reviews to my blog. It’s a natural extension of the work I am already doing. I’ll publish my first YA review tomorrow – Ruth Lehrer’s Being Fishkill. I’ll follow this with my first middle grade review later this week. I love Zetta Elliot’s children’s picture books and have reviewed a couple. It makes sense that Dragons in a Bag will be the first middle grade book I review.

I am also participating in Multicultural Children’s Book Day January 25th and am very excited about it!

A BIG thank you to everyone following me, reading my reviews, and making good book choices! We need children’s literature that is inclusive, socially relevant, and beautifully written and illustrated.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Jennifer Miller, PhD

MY TOP 10 CYBILS AWARDS NOMINATED BOARD BOOKS/PICTURE BOOKS

Trying to make a list of my TOP 10 CYBILS AWARDS NOMINATED BOARD BOOKS/PICTURE BOOKS made me feel relieved I am not a Round 2 Judge! Unlike judges in this category I had not read all the titles, so take my list with a grain of salt. I DO love all of these books and I have reviewed most of them. I tried to create a list that reflects the diverse titles nominated.

10. All Are Welcome By Alexandra Penfold

9. The Book Tree By Paul Czajak; illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh

8. Islandborn By Junot Díaz

7. Julián Is a Mermaid By Jessica Love

6. C is for Consent By Eleanor Morrison

5. If You’re Going to a March By Martha Freeman, illustrated by Violet Kim

4. You Can Be By Elise Gravel

3. Drawn Together By Minh Lê

2. Prince & Knight By Daniel Haack

1. Families By Jesse Unaapik Mike and Kerry McCluskey; Illustrated by Lenny Lishchenko

Families is #1 by me. It’s published by Inhabit Media, an Inuit-owned small press that brings amazing #ownvoices children’s literature into the world. I love that the book celebrates diverse family formations and represents indigenous peoples in a non-romanticized contemporary setting that organically incorporates cultural specificity while dealing with universal issues.

Du8Fv8YXQAIbvg0.jpg largeThe Armchair Cybils Shortlist Contest

Alice Faye Duncan

Watch out for reviews of Alice Faye Duncan’s new and upcoming non-fiction children’s picture books next week on RaiseThemRighteous.com! Duncan’s work makes important contributions to children’s non-fiction by exploring American literary and political history. Her lyrical language transports even the youngest readers into the past, which is rendered rich in details that take unapologetic account of poverty and racism as well as hope and resistance.

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Order Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop.

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Pre-order A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks.

If you are not familiar with Duncan’s work learn more here.

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I want my words to be soul substance and a good time, mixed with a jolt of learning. — Alice Faye Duncan

 

 

Demand Inclusive Children’s Culture, Get it from Flamingo Rampant

Flamingo Rampant is a small-press committed to producing racially and ethnically inclusive, feminist, and LGBTQ*-positive children’s picture books. The press was founded by S. Bear Bergman and j. wallace skelton. Over a dozen books are now available!

Flamingo Rampant is currently raising money through a Kickstarter campaign for their next set of six titles to be published August 2019.

The Lamestream Publishing Industry

In an interview with The Queue, Flamingo Rampant co-founder S. Bear Bergman stated that mainstream publishers rejected his books because they couldn’t imagine a market for radically inclusive queer positive children’s literature. Miriam Zoila Pérez troubles the assumption of mainstream publishers in an article for Colorlines noting: “While it may be conventional wisdom that white kids won’t read books featuring people of color, and that boys won’t read books featuring girls, there isn’t much research actually supporting it–meaning we may be able to turn the tide by introducing kids to a wider range of stories at a young age.”

I started blogging at RaiseThemRighteous.com because I believe all children deserve books that reflect their lives and all children deserve books that don’t. As adults we are accountable to our children. We need to demand inclusive children’s culture of the quality Flamingo Rampant delivers.

Queer World Making

When asked by The Queue how being a parent influenced his writing choices Bergman responded: “I started to think, what does this do to someone’s dreamscape? What does it mean to populate their imagination with stories? I also became very aware of my worldbuilding. I didn’t want to create an alternate reality in which children would feel alienated, or that they wouldn’t be able to access.”

I love this so much. In my academic work I often describe children’s literature, especially LGBTQ* children’s literature, as a world making project. Books give children vocabulary and vision. We should treat children and their culture, a culture adults are largely responsible for making, with dignity and respect, while empowering them to be world makers themselves. Flamingo Rampant will help them dream big and encourage them to put positive things into the world today! I mean that, really I do, check out these titles!

Why Should I Donate or Pre-Order?

In an article for Plenitude: Your Queer Literary Magazine, DJ Fraser describes why Flamingo Rampant crowdfunds: “Crowdsourcing startup money let Bear actually pay his team of producers, something that is often missing from many independent publishing venues. An important part of Bergman’s vision was initially to reward his artists for their work, and not force them into artistic burnout with no return.”

Flamingo Rampant is putting such important work into the world! Let’s support them. You can donate to their Kickstarter campaign or pre-order their next set of 6 releases! These books make great contributions to classroom, school, or public libraries. We need to help put these stories into the world!

Back the Project!