The industry agrees

A recent article in Publisher’s Weekly emphatically backs what The Brown Bookshelf has long endorsed — importance of increasing the diversity of books out there for young African American teen readers.

The article points to signs that this is happening.

One interesting point – editor Stacey Barney (who actually acquired So Not The Drama for Dafina) asks where are the Gossip Girl and the like for Af-Am readers?  But then Marva Allen of Hue-Man books worries that “the marketplace will become filled with fad titles that eventually become irrelevant.”

To that I say, I’d rather see that happen then to see us left out of contemporary portrayals.  I know it’s a slippery slope, believe me, I do.  But being left out of the various niches within YA is not fun for the authors or the readers.

So bring on the fad titles be it fantasy, paranormal or teen soap operas – just let us get in the game.  It doesn’t seem right that mainstream fads pass us by, as if somehow our readers are too “good” for them.  Pleasure reading is just that, reading for fun and sometimes those titles are faddish.  Doesn’t mean the heavy stuff gets left behind – there are enough different readers for us all.

2 thoughts on “The industry agrees

  1. All things being equal, I’d agree with you, and I’m definitely invested in young readers having more choices at ALL levels. I think we could safely have a moratorium on Harriet Tubman picture books–say 2 or 3 years–and instead present children with “ordinary” stories of “ordinary” black people–Lola Loves the Library is my current favorite. But the reality is that publishers are most invested in books that sell well. So if we really want a “black version” of Gossip Girls, we’ll get one–and it’ll sell well (many teens already read Zane), and then more publishers will drift toward that particular genre *to the exclusion of all others* (except maybe a book on MLK or Sojourner Truth or some other historical person/event that might help them scoop up an award). I don’t think we really want to model “our” consumption off of “theirs”–isn’t that how we wound up with BET?

  2. Hi Paula–

    Thanks for posting about the article I co-wrote for PW. One of the primary reasons why I chose YA for the feature was to continue the conversation of young people, reading, and the publishing industry.

    BTW: I used an excerpt from your YPulse article in a recent workshop I conducted about connecting young people with books.

    What was interesting about the workshop is that is was filled with educators and librarians. When I showed them books (including yours, Kimani tru titles, etc), many of them had never seen or heard of the books. Disconnect is a huge problem. Those who play crucial roles in the lives of our children aren’t being kept in the loop like they should.

    Sites like Brown Bookshelf are crucial in that process!

    It’s also the reason that my company, BackList has developed THE BRIDGE IS OVER a new resource for educators, youth providers, and parents to help them connect young people with the power of words. I encourage you to check it out:

    Keep up the important work!

    Felicia Pride

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