I’m so happy- my article about the versatility and power of comics has been published by Perspectives on Reading.
Check it out here!
Comics are a format for everyone: from the young girl toting around her worn copy of DogMan to the grandfather who is outraged at the latest political comic shared on his Facebook newsfeed. Generally speaking, the perceptions of the masses haven’t caught up with how far comics have come since the Golden Age of superheroes. Today, a diverse wealth of comics is being published, crowdfunded and shared online, and there’s something out there for readers of all interests and literacy levels…
I’m so happy- my article about the versatility and power of comics has been published by Perspectives on Reading.
Check it out here!
When I was freshly reeling from a painful and embarrassing failure, a respected mentor asked to meet up with me in a coffee shop. We chatted for a while and he asked me what I had learned from my struggle. I was so deep in shock and self-pity that I couldn’t think of anything positive to say. He told me I’ve learned that you’re resilient. I didn’t feel resilient at the time, but his words helped me to shift my perspective and inner story, and to work toward new goals.
These books compiled here are a variety of books on resilience, picking yourself up after failure, learning from mistakes, and owning your life as it is now. Some of these are titles I certainly could have used when I was going through that tough time- hopefully they will help someone somewhere who needs them.
(Descriptions provided from publishers, book-jackets, covers, etc. Kid-friendly books at the end.)
Stop Doing that Sh*t: End Self-Sabotage and Demand Your Life Back– Gary John Bishop
How to Fail: Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong-Elizabeth Day
You’re Going to Survive: True Stories From People Who’ve Endured Soul-Crushing Moments In Their Careers- Failure, Rejection, Disappointment, Public Humiliation- and How They Got Through It- and How You Will Too- Alexandra Franzen
Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness– Rick Hanson
Resilient Grieving: Finding Strength and Embracing Life after a Loss that Changes Everything– Lucy Hone
Supernormal: Childhood Adversity and the Amazing Untold Story of Resilience– Meg Jay
The Art of Failing: Notes From the Underdog– Anthony McGowan
It’s Great to Suck at Something: The Unexpected Joy of Wiping Out and What it Can Teach Us About Patience, Resilience, and the Stuff that Really Matters- Karen Rinaldi
Better: How I Let Go of Control, Held on to Hope, and Found Joy in my Darkest Hour– Amy Robach
The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong- Judith Rodin
The Bounce Back Book: How to Thrive in the Face of Adversity, Setbacks, and Losses– Karen Salmansohn
Shame is an Ocean I Swim Across– Poems by Mary Lambert
Sometimes You Fly- Katherine Applegate & Jennifer Black Reinhardt
Even Superheroes Make Mistakes– Shelly Becker & Eda Kaban
Famous fails! Mighty Mistakes, Mega Mishaps, & How a Mess Can Lead to Success!– Crispin Boyer
Bounce Back: How to Be a Resilient Kid– Wendy L. Moss
I just finished this seminar for my LIS 518 course (which is all about comics, woohoo!)
It’s basically a Manga 101 sort of video with a few slides specifically pertaining to manga in libraries.
A Facebook post went viral recently because a woman came across a book at Costco and was offended by the poems in it- specifically one poem, Brotherly Love:
The post was clearly written to provoke outrage, which it did achieve. The thousands of comments are filled with calls to pull the book, questioning the store for selling it, the authors for writing it, and the publishers for supporting it.
I understand if this poem isn’t appealing to everyone – it’s definitely dark in its humour, and filled with imagined instances of hyperbolic violence. Some kids might find it frightening, but others will surely find it hilarious. In the comments of the post parents are also asserting that kids couldn’t possibly understand the dark humour for what it is and will take the poem literally; to this I say no two kids are the same, and kids in general are smarter than we give them credit for. This book isn’t going to incite mass fratricide, and this outcry is just yet another attempt by adults to remove a unique book that would be enjoyed by certain kids.
Parents are understandably protective of their kids, but what one kid can’t handle might be what another kid clicks with. For some kids, the love of reading can suddenly be sparked with something a little edgy
— something shocking, scandalous, gross, ghoulish, or morbid. When a book steps out of the safe and into the daring, that very act alone might garner a kid’s respect and begin a lifelong reading habit. Thinking back to my younger years, the books that were widely popular and always checked out at the school library were rarely “nice” books- they were the kind of books that you pass around at the back of the class and get in trouble for giggling about.
Despite its dark content, there’s no reason to fear this book- if someone doesn’t like it, they don’t have to read it, and can also ensure their kid doesn’t read it. If a parent wants to control what their kid has access to, that’s their choice. However, when people try to prevent others from exercising that choice, that’s where we have a problem.
Fearing that they might decide to pull the book from their stores in a reactionary act of censorship, I wrote this to Costco executives:
I am an educator, library worker, and MLIS student, and as such I wanted to share my thoughts and perspective on the children’s book carried by Costco “No More Poems”.
As I’m sure you are aware by now, a parent shared a poem in this book which they found offensive and are warning others not to buy it as well as questioning your company for carrying it, the publishers for approving it, etc. The post has since gone viral on Facebook.
I understand that in situations like this the impulse may be to pull the title from your stores, but on the contrary I hope that you keep it available. No book will appeal to the sensitivities of all kids (or all parents) but censorship isn’t the answer.
I think the poem is funny and could totally be appreciated by some kids who get the dark humour. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for- this book isn’t advocating actual violence, it’s playing on exaggerated fantasies of a kid annoyed by their brother. I hope you keep the title in your stores- I would buy it, and I’m sure others would too. Those who don’t want it can close it and walk away.
Thanks for your time,
If, like me, you’ve been feeling more than your share of political exhaustion, existential dread, climate-change anxiety, and general fear about the way the world seems to be headed, you may want to consider perusing the following book suggestions.
These books won’t let us turn back time and prevent the election of ignorant egomaniacs. They probably also won’t help us when our coastlines become submerged, and they won’t protect us from artificially intelligent dictators or wildfires or aliens, but hey — at least they’ll make us feel better in the meantime.
Okay, maybe i’m feeling cynical, leaning nihilistic, but I really don’t think that I’m alone in my exasperation. These books aim to inspire hope, which I imagine most of us could use a bit more of these days.
And so, I present:
(Quotes used are taken from product descriptions/book jackets of each title)
It’s Better Than It Looks: Reasons For Optimism In an Age of Fear by Gregg Easterbrook (2018)
Easterbrook offers specific policy reforms to address climate change, inequality, and other problems, and reminds us that there is real hope in conquering such challenges. In an age of discord and fear-mongering, It’s Better Than It Looks will profoundly change your perspective on who we are, where we’re headed, and what we’re capable of.
Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig (2019)
The societies we are part of are increasingly making our minds ill. It very often feels that the way we live is almost engineered to make us unhappy. Whether it is our attitudes toward sleep, the marketing messages that inundate us daily, the constant and hysterical news cycle, social media or even the way we educate our children, we are programming ourselves to put our bodies and minds at odds and setting ourselves up with expectations for our lives that prevent our happiness.
When Matt became ill with panic disorder, anxiety and depression, it took him a long time to work out the ways the external world could impact his mental health in positive and negative ways. Notes on a Nervous Planet shares his journey back to happiness and all of the lessons that Matt learned along the way
21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari (2018)
21 Lessons For the 21st Century provides a kind of instruction manual for the present day to help readers find their way around the 21st century, to understand it, and to focus on the really important questions of life. Once again, Harari presents this in the distinctive, informal, and entertaining style that already characterized his previous books. The topics Harari examines in this way include major challenges such as international terrorism, fake news, and migration, as well as turning to more personal, individual concerns, such as our time for leisure or how much pressure and stress we can take. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century answers the overarching question: What is happening in the world today, what is the deeper meaning of these events, and how can we individually steer our way through them?
Gmorning, Gnight! Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jonny Sun (2018)
Before he inspired the world with Hamilton and was catapulted to international fame, Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspiring his Twitter followers with words of encouragement at the beginning and end of each day. He wrote these original sayings, aphorisms, and poetry for himself as much as for others. But as Miranda’s audience grew, these messages took on a life on their own. Now Miranda has gathered the best of his daily greetings into a beautiful collection illustrated by acclaimed artist (and fellow Twitter favorite) Jonny Sun. Full of comfort and motivation, Gmorning, Gnight! is a touchstone for anyone who needs a quick lift.
Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker (2018)
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? In this elegant assessment of the human condition in the third millennium, cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, which play to our psychological biases. Instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing.
Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World- And Why Things Are Better Than You Think – by Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, and Anna Rosling Ronnlund (2018)
It turns out that the world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think.That doesn’t mean there aren’t real concerns. But when we worry about everything all the time instead of embracing a worldview based on facts, we can lose our ability to focus on the things that threaten us most.
Inspiring and revelatory, filled with lively anecdotes and moving stories, Factfulness is an urgent and essential book that will change the way you see the world and empower you to respond to the crises and opportunities of the future.
Poems for a World Gone To Sh*t: The Amazing Power of Poetry To Make Even The Most F**ked Up Times Feel Better featuring poems by various poets (2019)
Funny, reflective, romantic and life-affirming – here is an anthology of poems to remind you to keep on looking at the stars: from that first ‘what the f*ck’ moment to empowering you to do something about this sh*t and ultimately realising that life is still beautiful after all.
BOOK-LIST TIME! This time for International Women’s Day!
I’ve kept track of 101 books that have been released recently (approximately within this past year) featuring intersectional feminist writings, women’s stories and histories, and empowering reads from diverse voices.
The quoted descriptions I’ve used are from the book jackets and/or their promo materials.
Scroll down for biographies, non-fiction, graphic novels, YA titles, and books for younger readers, too!
Happy, inspired reading!
A personal and empowering blueprint—from one of America’s rising Democratic stars—for outsiders who seek to become the ones in charge
So what if it’s true that Black women are mad as hell? They have the right to be. In the Black feminist tradition of Audre Lorde, Brittney Cooper reminds us that anger is a powerful source of energy that can give us the strength to keep on fighting.
Every Day I’m Hustling is a personal book with a message Fox passionately believes in: that you make your own luck, that you never ever wake up in the morning thinking somebody’s going to call you and offer you that part or ask you out on that date that’s going to change your life, that you have to wake up and put on your longest eyelashes and fiercest heels and go out and make your life happen yourself.
To strip the wallpaper off the fairy tale of The Family House in which the comfort and happiness of men and children has been the priority is to find behind it an unthanked, unloved, neglected, exhausted woman.
Informative, heartbreaking, and profoundly empowering, Tomorrow Will Be Different is McBride’s story of love and loss and a powerful entry point into the LGBTQ community’s battle for equal rights and what it means to be openly transgender.
An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States
From Cecile Richards—president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund for more than a decade, daughter of the late Governor Ann Richards, featured speaker at the Women’s March on Washington, and a “heroine of the resistance” (Vogue)—comes a story about learning to lead and make change, based on a lifetime of fighting for women’s rights and social justice.
With raw honesty, Shraya delivers an important record of the cumulative damage caused by misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia, releasing trauma from a body that has always refused to assimilate.
With unbridled insight that offers a rare front seat to the inner workings of the #metoo movement and its aftermath, Jill captures the zeitgeist of a generation with thoughtful and revolutionary ideas about gender, inclusion, desire, and consent.
Elle columnist Rhyannon Styles tells her unforgettable life story in THE NEW GIRL, reflecting on her past and charting her incredible journey from male to female. A raw, frank and utterly moving celebration of life.
From much-loved, international bestseller Cecelia Ahern come stories for all of us: the women who befriend us, the women who encourage us, the women who make us brave
Join the ranks of the pioneers who defied social convention to become database poets, information-wranglers, hypertext dreamers, and glass ceiling-shattering dot com-era entrepreneurs.
From Gemma Hartley, the journalist who ignited a national conversation on emotional labor, comes Fed Up, a bold dive into the unpaid, invisible work women have shouldered for too long—and an impassioned vision for creating a better future for us all.
Bestselling author, professional speaker, and former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, Kate White shares the nine core principles gutsy women need to go bigger, bolder, and achieve the full level of success they desire.
Redefine the expectations for women in leadership roles with this #1 New York Times bestselling volume of inspiring advice by the former communications director for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Keep Marching calls on all badass women for justice to come together and rise.
The instant bestseller from the author of Reviving Ophelia–a guide to wisdom, authenticity, and bliss for women as they age.
Drawing upon Renzetti’s decades of reporting on feminist issues, Shrewed is a book about feminism’s crossroads.
Meet the bold women history has tried to forget until now!
With a keen eye for historical detail, Andrea Barnet traces the arc of each woman’s career and explores how their work collectively changed the course of history.
Ambition, diversity, strength: few groups better represent the potential of Canada than women. Canada 150 Women profiles 150 of the country’s most inspiring, groundbreaking and powerful female role models, providing insight into their achievements—and a challenge for all to better support women.
Part critique of China’s paternalistic ideals, part playful portrait of the romantic travails of China’s trailblazing women and their well-meaning parents who are anxious to see their daughters snuggled into traditional wedlock, Roseann Lake’s Leftover in China focuses on the lives of four individual women against a backdrop of colorful anecdotes, hundreds of interviews, and rigorous historical and demographic research to show how these “leftovers” are the linchpin to China’s future.
Bolin constructs a sharp, perceptive, and revelatory dialogue on the portrayal of women in media and their roles in our culture.
Often funny, sometimes surprising, and always inspiring, this book aims to bridge the gap between the feminist hashtag and the scholarly text by giving women the space to explain how they actually feel about feminism.
It started with an article and grew into a movement… This collection of articles tracks the movement from its start. It looks at the international response and inevitable criticism, as well as the future of the movement.
In this luminous volume, New York Times bestselling writer Julia Pierpont and artist Manjit Thapp match short, vibrant, and surprising biographies with stunning full-color portraits of secular female “saints”: champions of strength and progress.
Highlighting a double standard perpetuated against women by all sexes, and its disastrous, stultifying effect, Traister’s latest is timely and crucial. It offers a glimpse into the galvanizing force of women’s collective anger, which, when harnessed, can change history.
A groundbreaking book that elevates underrepresented voices, Can We All Be Feminists? offers the tools and perspective we need to create a 21st century feminism that is truly for all.
A funny, fact-driven, and illustrated field guide to how to live a feminist life in today’s world, from the hosts of the hit Unladylike podcast.
Through a mixture of memoir, opinion and investigative journalism, Clementine Ford exposes just how unequal the world continues to be for women
This collection of twenty-one essays from major YA authors—including award-winning and bestselling writers—touches on a powerful range of topics related to growing up female in today’s America, and the intersection with race, religion, and ethnicity.
Can Your Conversations Change the World? provides insight into the origins and history of feminism, how it plays out on the global stage and what it means to be a young feminist and activist today.
Featuring beautiful full-color illustrations of each woman and a bold graphic design, this standout nonfiction title is the perfect read for teens (or adults!) who want the true stories of phenomenal women from around the world and insight into how their lives and accomplishments impacted both their societies and our own.
Weaving together sociological data, personal experiences, and insights gleaned from decades of work with governments and NGOs around the globe, Kaufman explores topics ranging from domestic violence to parental leave, grappling with the ways in which a culture of toxic masculinity hurts women and men (and their children). Informative and provocative, The Time Has Come demonstrates how real gender equality creates advancements in both the workplace and the global economy, and urges men to become dedicated allies in dismantling the patriarchy.
A revelatory work in the tradition of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, DaMaris Hill’s searing and powerful narrative-in-verse bears witness to American women of color burdened by incarceration.
Welcome to essayist Kimberly Harrington’s poetic and funny world of motherhood, womanhood, and humanhood, not necessarily in that order.
An inspiring and radical celebration of 70 women, girls, and gender nonbinary people who have changed–and are still changing–the world, from the Civil Rights Movement and Stonewall riots through Black Lives Matter and beyond.
From artist, activist, and Pussy Riot founder Nadya Tolokonnikova, a guerilla guide to radical protest and joyful political resistance
A groundbreaking collection based on oral histories that brilliantly plumb the leadership of African American women in the 20th-century fight for civil rights – many nearly lost to history
A groundbreaking book about the direct relationship between a woman’s rights and freedoms and the economic prosperity of her country.
These are the remarkable stories of the girls who saw themselves as responsible for the difficult work of crossing color lines.
Count Girls In encourages parents and other adults to raise authentic young women who have the confidence to put STEM to work in a way that best serves them and their passions. The authors, both STEM professionals, present compelling research in a conversational, accessible style and provide specific advice and takeaways for each stage of schooling, from elementary school through college, followed by comprehensive STEM resources. This isn’t a book about raising competitive, test-acing girls in lab coats; this is about raising happy, confident girls who realize the world of opportunities before them.
Mara Altman’s volatile and apprehensive relationship with her body has led her to wonder about a lot of stuff over the years. Like, who decided that women shouldn’t have body hair? And how sweaty is too sweaty? Also, why is breast cleavage sexy but camel toe revolting? Isn’t it all just cleavage? These questions and others like them have led to the comforting and sometimes smelly revelations that constitute Gross Anatomy, an essay collection about what it’s like to operate the bags of meat we call our bodies.
Period Power aims to explain what menstruation is, shed light on the stigmas and resulting biases, and create a strategy to end the silence and prompt conversation about periods.
In concise and candid language, [Tovar] delves into unlearning fatphobia, dismantling sexist notions of fashion, and how to reject diet culture’s greatest lie: that fat people need to wait before beginning their best lives.
Filled with beautiful full-color illustrations, a groundbreaking compendium honoring the amazing true stories of fifty inspirational women who helped fuel some of the greatest achievements in space exploration from the nineteenth century to today
Sixty of the world’s coolest and most influential women are the inspiration for this refreshing and fun collection of drink recipes that are sure to bring extra zest to your cocktail shaker.
The bestselling motivational guide that TheAtlantic.comcalls “a rallying cry for women to get the money they deserve.”
THE MYTH OF THE NICE GIRL is a refreshing dose of forward-looking feminism that will resonate with smart, professional women who know what they want and are looking for real advice to take their career to the next level without losing themselves in the process.
Set amid the most turbulent social and political period of modern times, Ninth Street Women is the impassioned, wild, sometimes tragic, always exhilarating chronicle of five women who dared to enter the male-dominated world of twentieth-century abstract painting–not as muses but as artists.
Celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the acclaimed and influential debut album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill with this eye-opening and moving exploration of Lauryn Hill and her remarkable artistic legacy.
Making headlines when it was launched in 2015, Omise’eke Tinsley’s undergraduate course “Beyoncé Feminism, Rihanna Womanism” has inspired students from all walks of life. In Beyoncé in Formation, Tinsley now takes her rich observations beyond the classroom, using the blockbuster album and video Lemonade as a soundtrack for vital new-millennium narratives.
A stellar and unprecedented celebration of 104 musical artists, WOMEN WHO ROCK is the most complete, up-to-date history of the evolution, influence, and importance of women in music. A gorgeous gift book, it includes a stunning, specially commissioned, full-color illustrated portrait of every musician and group.
Joy Press tells the story of the maverick women who broke through the barricades and the iconic shows that redefined the television landscape.
Outfitted with on-point pop culture references, these essays tackle a wide range of topics: giving feminism a tough-love talk on intersectionality, telling society’s beauty standards to kick rocks, and calling foul on our culture’s obsession with work… With the intimate voice of a new best friend, Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay is a candid perspective for a generation that has had the rug pulled out from under it too many times to count.
The author of Rejected Princesses returns with an inspiring, fully illustrated guide that brings together the fiercest mothers in history—real life matriarchs who gave everything to protect all they loved.
This riveting narrative explores the lives of six remarkable female pharaohs, from Hatshepsut to Cleopatra–women who ruled with real power–and shines a piercing light on our own perceptions of women in power today.
A riveting account of three women who fought shoulder-to-shoulder with men and worked with local women to restore their lives and push back the Taliban
In Bringing Down the Colonel, the journalist Patricia Miller tells the story of Madeline Pollard, an unlikely nineteenth-century women’s rights crusader. After an affair with a prominent politician left her “ruined,” Pollard brought the man—and the hypocrisy of America’s control of women’s sexuality—to trial. And, surprisingly, she won.
Who says women don’t go to war? From Vikings and African queens to cross-dressing military doctors and WWII Russian fighter pilots, these are the stories of women for whom battle was not a metaphor.
Throughout history and across the globe, one characteristic connects the daring women of Brazen: their indomitable spirit.
The Mean Girls are out for blood in this timely revenge fantasy that speaks to our deepest desires for awful, corrupt men to get what’s coming to ‘em! Filled with mayhem, misandry, and more danger than you can shake a stiletto at, get ready for a chaotic, bloody ride.
Girl Town collects the Ignatz Award-winning stories “Radishes” and “Diana’s Electric Tongue” together with several other tales of young adulthood and the search for connection.
In an anthology of revolution and resistance, a sisterhood of YA writers shines a light on a century and a half of heroines on the margins and in the intersections.
Join Lucy, the gang, Hubble the snarky kitty, and their TV reporter buddy, Suzy Pundergast, to find out if they can prove the meanies wrong because when girls stick together, anything is possible!
A fun and feisty tour of famous girl BFFs from history who stuck together and changed the world.
An activism handbook for teen girls ready to fight for change, social justice, and equality.
Inspirational stories of ten Black women and women’s collectives from Canadian and American history. Included are leaders and groundbreakers who were anti-slavery activists, business women, health-care activists, civic organizers and educators
In her powerful new book, Nobel Peace Prize winner and New York Times-bestselling author Malala Yousafzai introduces some of the people behind the statistics and news stories about the millions of people displaced worldwide.
A timely, beautiful and bold compendium of women around the world who said “time’s up” on inequality. Rule Breakers. Risk Takers. Rebel Women. Law Makers. This book is a celebration of women standing up, speaking out, and sticking together to battle inequality and win the vote.
More than 50 incredible female Super Heroes from the Marvel Comics universe inspire girls and women of all ages to be powerful, passionate, and persistent.
The inspirational real-life stories of superstar athletes Serena and Venus Williams, Simone Biles, Carli Lloyd, and more!
Perfect for tiny activists, mini feminists and little kids who are ready to take on the world.
Follow the adventures of these young female pioneers as they battle not only enemies in the skies but sexism and inequality in their own teams, and encounter legends like Jackie “Speed Queen” Cochran. Risking their lives countless times in feats of incredible bravery, the Women Airforce Service Pilots–WASPs–of the Second World War are honored in this beautiful story based on actual events, illustrated in Sally Deng’s raw, dynamic style.
From the fearless to the feared, discover 25 women who dared.
Discover 25 women who challenged the status quo and fought for what they believed in.
Discover 25 women who were trailblazers in science, technology, architecture, engineering and more.
Discover 25 women who shattered the glass ceiling, each in their own way. In politics, government, the business world and more, these women show us that ambition, perserverance and hard work go a long way.
The inspiring memoir for young readers about a Latina rocket scientist whose early life was transformed by joining the Girl Scouts and who currently serves as CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA.
Painter and sculptor Rosa Bonheur (1822–1899) led a highly nontraditional life, especially for a woman in the nineteenth century. She kept lions as pets, was awarded the Legion of Honor by Empress Eugénie, and befriended “Buffalo Bill” Cody. She became a painter at a time when women were often only reluctantly educated as artists. Her unconventional artistic work habits, including visiting slaughterhouses to sketch an animal’s anatomy and wearing men’s clothing to gain access to places like a horse fair, where women were not allowed, helped her become one of the most beloved female painters of her time.
A gorgeously illustrated picture book biography about the fascinating life of surrealist artist Leonora Carrington, from Michelle Markel and Amanda Hall, the acclaimed team behind The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau.
Meet Viola Desmond, community leader and early civil rights trailblazer!
From award-winning author Kathleen Krull comes an empowering picture book biography—with dazzling illustrations from artist Nancy Zhang—about the second female justice of the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Bugs, of all kinds, were considered to be born of mud” and to be “beasts of the devil.” Why would anyone, let alone a girl, want to study and observe them?
One of the first naturalists to observe live insects directly, Maria Sibylla Merian was also one of the first to document the metamorphosis of the butterfly. In this visual nonfiction biography, richly illustrated throughout with full-color original paintings by Merian herself, the Newbery Honor-winning author Joyce Sidman paints her own picture of one of the first female entomologists and a woman who flouted convention in the pursuit of knowledge and her passion for insects.
The inspiring and critically acclaimed all-American story of faith, family, hard work, and perseverance by Olympic fencer, activist, and Time “100 Most Influential People” honoree Ibtihaj Muhammad
On the bicentennial of Frankenstein, join Mary Shelley on the night she created the most frightening monster the world has ever seen.
Gloria Steinem started a movement that changed our world. This picture-book biography of the pioneering feminist brings the message of equality to a new generation.
This lovingly crafted picture book biography centers on the incredible bond between Venus and Serena Williams…
Princess Nin is a firefighter, Princess Gilda is a supermarket cashier, Princess Agnes is retired, and Princess Liang is in a wheel chair. This gallery of princesses gives visibility to lot of women who do not fit with the traditional conception of a princess. Maybe it’s time to realize that each and every one of us could be a princess.
This is a gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another—from Empire actor and activist Grace Byers and talented newcomer artist Keturah A. Bobo.
…A story that’s equal parts fashion fairy-tale and guide to girl power…
A poignant, fierce reflection on the power and spirit of girls and girls-at-heart from celebrated actress Kathryn Hahn and New York Times bestselling illustrator Brigette Barrager.
One size definitely does not fit all in this book: charming depictions of girls being scruffy or fancy, neat or messy, and everything in between are explored and celebrated, because each girl is unique and unlike all others.
Some kids like frills and sparkles and bows and lots of pink. And some don’t. The girl who started “The Absolutely, Positively No Princess Book” is sure that she wants a story full of nature and adventure. But when a princess barges into the pages with her own opinions about what makes for a good story, the two learn that they each have something to offer. Together they make the best story of all.
Focused on issues including self-image, confidence, LGBTQ, friendship, advocacy, and disability, these stories are perfect for sharing between parents and children, or for older princesses or princes to read by themselves. They teach that a princess is a person who seeks to help others, is open to learning new things, and looks for ways to add purpose to their lives and the lives of those around them.
From the award-winning creator of My Dad Used to Be So Cool and Tough Guys Have Feelings Too comes a charming picture book inspired by the true story of Mary Edwards Walker, a trailblazing 19th-century doctor who was arrested many times for wearing pants.
Uplifting and resonant, and with a variety of interests ranging from sports to science to politics, this book is sure to inspire any young girl, instilling the idea that the best way to dress like a girl is the way that makes you feel most like YOU!
Feminist Baby is learning to talkShe says what she thinks and it totally rocks!Feminist Babies stand up tall“Equal rights and toys for all!”
In this board book, young girl braves a challenge-filled day just like her hero, Wonder Woman!
You loved the bestselling picture books starring Rosie Revere, Ada Twist, and Iggy Peck. Now you can follow The Questioneers’ further adventures in brand-new chapter books! The first installment, Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters, is a spirited story about the power of teamwork and the true meaning of home.
Illustrated with Ellie’s sketches and plans, and including backmatter with a fun how-to guide to tools, this is a STEM- and friendship-powered story full of fun!
This week in Canada we recognize our intellectual freedom in celebrating the 35th annual Freedom to Read Week (Feb 24-March 2).
Freedom to read can never be taken for granted. Even in Canada, a free country by world standards, books and magazines are banned at the border. Schools and libraries are regularly asked to remove books and magazines from their shelves. Free expression on the Internet is under attack. Few of these stories make headlines, but they affect the right of Canadians to decide for themselves what they choose to read. – freedomtoread.ca
The Freedom to Read Website keeps track of submitted challenges here (I’ll be quoting some passages below). A challenge indicates that someone sought to limit public access to the title, whether in a school, a library, or elsewhere. Sometimes a challenge results in removal of the title – banning a book is a clear form of censorship. Yet, even when a challenge is dismissed, the resulting controversy may mean that it is quietly dropped from school projects, curriculum lists, and displays, which is an unseen form of censorship that is harder to track.
On the other hand, often efforts to censor a book “backfire” because people naturally can’t wait to get their hands on the title that someone doesn’t want them to read!
I’ve been keeping tabs on the challenged titles in Canada the past few years, and I thought it would be fun to highlight a few of my favorite or noted titles that have been challenged and why (if the record contains a reason, which it often does not).
So here, in no particular order, are some notable works which, for some reason or another, someone tried to restrict access to in Canada:
This title was challenged in Edmonton in 2016 and Ontario in 2015. Complaints included that the illustrations were graphic and violent, and a mother said that they made her son cry.
Spooky ABC was challenged in British Columbia. Objections: “The letters D and I poems not very appropriate for kids to read, and quite honestly the whole book was not OK to read to a child of any age. I don’t know if it would be useful to another child. Many other alphabet books [are] available. This one just seemed bad all across the board.”
I don’t know, it looks pretty intriguing to me!
“Offensive language, age inappropriate”- I’m guessing this person didn’t get that this a humour book which is probably more intended for parents than children. There IS an alternate SFW version called Seriously, Just Go to Sleep, but I think it’s missing the magic of the original…
Fun fact! Samuel L. Jackson narrates this book spectacularly in the audio edition.
The Waiting Dog was challenged both in 2006 and 2010. Complaints included “revolting, vile”. It’s true! This is a picture book with a warning label on the cover art: “WARNING- do you have the guts to read this book?”
The story *spoiler alert* involves a dog who daydreams about pulling the mailman in through the slot and feasting on his body from top to toes. Its graphic imagery and playful verse are both gratuitously, gruesomely, disturbingly macabre, and while it surely isn’t to every readers taste, I’m certain that some kids as well as adults would gobble it up happily.
The dark humour is played in an exaggerated way- the evil thoughts of the dog contrast so completely with the gentle, wiggly, goofy dogs that I know, so as the violence ramps up it only adds to the hilarity.
I probably never would have stumbled across this book if it hadn’t been challenged, but I am quite fond of it. I actually ordered my own copy on Amazon and the author signed it!
It’s alarming to notice a certain trend in the books that have been challenged in Canada in recent years- many of them are LGBTQ+ titles.
In one particular instance in 2016, a mother in Alberta initiated a challenge on all of the LGBTQ book titles that were suggested in the Teen Summer Reading Program pamphlets at St. Albert Library. She found the entire category objectionable, claiming “there is a difference between showing respect for all peoples and using the summer reading program as a place to further LGBTQ propaganda”– she also called LGBTQ+ an unhealthy “lifestyle” contrary to god’s plan and unfit for promotion to youth.
The Teen Librarian did not remove the Queer Lit category from the Summer Reading program, and noted in their response to the patron that it was not a requirement to read from that category to participate in the SRP game. Furthermore, they explained:
“Library patrons have a choice in what they read… The St. Albert Public Library serves all members of the community, regardless of age, race, faith, education level, income, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnic background, or language spoken. We serve LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning) youth, and the library is a safe space for them to visit. Many of these young people, as part of an invisible minority, have learned to be secretive about their sexual identity or gender identity for fear of rejection from their peers or their own families. They experience isolation and are often victims of bullying. For these youth, a realization that there are library materials available to them which address LGBTQ identities and issues can help them choose to become more resilient and to feel that they have a place in society… having LGBTQ material available in the Young Adult collections and on book displays alongside other materials, not hidden away, helps to create an atmosphere of acceptance”.
This bestselling and award-winning dystopian novel was challenged in 2008 by a parent who was concerned about its use in a grade 12 classroom in Toronto. Concerns included “profane language, anti-Christian overtones, violence, and sexual degradation“.
Hmm, I wonder how an author is supposed to portray a dystopia without depicting the plentiful ways in which humanity can go wrong?
The school board reviewed the title and decided to keep it in the grade 11 & 12 curriculum.
Back around the 2000’s the Harry Potter series was widely challenged in the US and Canada, mainly by christian fundamentalists, on the grounds that the series contained themes of witchcraft. The books were removed from classroom use in some instances, and some orders for removal were rescinded after public outcry.
“In 2002 the Niagra (ON) District School Board turned down a parent’s request for the removal of the books from area schools. The parent said the books contained violence and promoted a religion (Wicca) which is against the law in Ontario schools. She said that she had not read the books.”
These books still face challenges again and again- I see another challenge recorded in Canada in 2010, but I imagine there are probably so many more challenges happening without being submitted to Freedom to Read.
Rupert Grint, who plays Ron Weasley in the movie adaptations of the books, recalls a sobering moment in his childhood when he realized the truly enormous impact of the series:
I saw a picture in a newspaper of a book-burning in America’s Bible Belt. And there was a picture of my face smouldering on top of the pyre because they thought the Harry Potter films were endorsing witchcraft.
The first omnibus, containing volumes 1-3 of this manga series, was challenged in Canada in 2017. No details are listed as to why.
I haven’t read Flowers of Evil yet- it’s on my TBR list- but I am a big fan of Oshimi’s beautiful and haunting vampire series, Happiness.
Again, no reason given here as to why it was challenged, but in 2017 someone had an issue with Jumanji. Van Allsburg’s works are unique and whimsical. This strange and imaginative picture book was the inspiration for the film of the same name, which was released back in 1995!
Speaking of 1995, that’s the year that R.L. Stine’s books were challenged in Nova Scotia! Take a nostalgic look at those gorgeous covers, would you?
“A parent group in Halifax asked that both these series be withdrawn from schools in the Halifax School Board’s jurisdiction. The books were said to convey violence and a lack of respect for parental authority.”
Why do parents always seem to want to ban the books that their kids are desperate to read? What a great way to kill a potential love of reading! Also, wouldn’t you fight back if you were being attacked by relentless lawn gnomes or killer slime? And maybe learning to not blindly trust authority is also an important lesson in life, but hey, that’s just my opinion…
I am a 90’s kid myself, and recently wrote on my personal blog about my obsession with Goosebumps. It certainly gave me chills a few times, but sometimes a kid needs a good scare!
And Tango Makes Three was challenged in Canada 2006 and again in 2009. This book was inspired by two real-life male penguins at the Central Park Zoo. The Calgary Catholic School District banned the book from a school library after a parent complained, on religious grounds, about the theme of “homosexual parenting”.
This book has also been highly controversial in the United States, facing frequent challenges.
Again, these are just a handful of examples of titles that have been challenged in Canada, and many more titles are challenged every year that likely aren’t reported.
Other excellent resources from around the world include the National Coalition Against Censorship, the Index on Censorship , Banned Books Week and The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, – because you never know if YOUR favorite book will be the next one to receive a challenge!
Lovely fellow nerd blogger Kayla recently included me in her Professional Nerd Series on her blog https://goodlordthatsfunny.com/ for my work with graphic novels, comics, and manga! Thanks Kayla, and keep up this awesome project!
Check out the post about my work here 🙂
And her previous post about cosplayer Hillary Laine here!
This past year I’ve been keeping track of some awesome new releases that feature POC stories, reflections, expressions, and histories. February is Black History Month, but these books are awesome reads year round! 🙂
Here are some fresh reads to check out, including fiction and non-fiction for readers young and old
(Note: I haven’t read every one of these myself yet- descriptions used were taken from the book jackets.)
“Carol Anderson’s White Rage took the world by storm, landing on the New York Times bestseller list and best book of the year lists from New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Chicago Review of Books. It launched her as an in-demand commentator on contemporary race issues for national print and television media and garnered her an invitation to speak to the Democratic Congressional Caucus. This compelling young adult adaptation brings her ideas to a new audience. ”
“In We Can’t Breathe, Jabari Asim disrupts what Toni Morrison has exposed as the “Master Narrative” and replaces it with a story of black survival and persistence through art and community in the face of centuries of racism. ”
“A groundbreaking collection based on oral histories that plumbs the leadership of African American women in the twentieth-century fight for civil rights—many nearly lost to history—from the latest winner of the Studs and Ida Terkel Prize.”
“From the award-winning entrepreneur, culture leader, and creator of the BLACK GIRLS ROCK! movement comes an inspiring and beautifully designed book that pays tribute to the achievements and contributions of black women around the world.”
“The Heritage is the story of the rise, fall, and fervent return of the athlete-activist. Through deep research and interviews with some of sports’ best-known stars—including Kaepernick, David Ortiz, Charles Barkley, and Chris Webber—as well as members of law enforcement and the military, Bryant details the collision of post-9/11 sports in America and the politically engaged post-Ferguson black athlete.”
“Moving, haunting, and as fast-paced as a novel, Invisible tells the true story of a woman who often found her path blocked by the social and political expectations of her time. But Eunice Carter never accepted defeat, and thanks to her grandson’s remarkable book, her long forgotten story is once again visible.”
“So what if it’s true that Black women are mad as hell? They have the right to be. In the Black feminist tradition of Audre Lorde, Brittney Cooper reminds us that anger is a powerful source of energy that can give us the strength to keep on fighting.”
“In the grassroots struggle to desegregate American schools, girls were the vanguard. In the late 1940s, parents filed lawsuits with their daughters, forcing civil rights lawyers to take the issue to the Supreme Court. After Brown v. Board of Education, girls far outnumbered boys as volunteers. These are the remarkable stories of the girls who saw themselves as responsible for the difficult work of crossing color lines.”
“An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature.”
“This blisteringly candid discussion of the American dilemma in the age of Trump brings together the head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the former attorney general of the United States, a bestselling author and death penalty lawyer, and a star professor for an honest conversation the country desperately needs to hear.”
“In the first collection of her evocative short fiction, which includes never-before-seen stories, Jemisin equally challenges and delights readers with thought-provoking narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption.”
“In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.”
“In We Matter, Thomas strives to show the influence professional athletes can have when they join the conversation on race, politics, and civil rights. ”
“A graphic novel biography of the escaped slave, abolitionist, public speaker, and most photographed man of the nineteenth century, based on his autobiographical writings and speeches, spotlighting the key events and people that shaped the life of this great American.”
“By telling the little-known stories of six pioneering African American entrepreneurs, Black Fortunes makes a worthy contribution to black history, to business history, and to American history.”—Margot Lee Shetterly, New York Times Bestselling author of Hidden Figures
“Let It Bang is an utterly original look at American gun culture from the inside, and from the other side—and, most movingly, the story of a young black man’s hard-won nonviolent path to self-protection.”
“With vibrant mixed media art, nonfiction superstars Lesa Cline-Ransome and Coretta Scott King Honor winner James E. Ransome share the inspirational story of two tennis legends who were fierce competitors on the courts, but close sisters above all.”
“This historical fiction picture book presents the story of nine-year-old Lorraine Jackson, who in 1968 witnessed the Memphis sanitation strike–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s final stand for justice before his assassination–when her father, a sanitation worker, participated in the protest.”
“Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness is a a picture book that invites white children and parents to become curious about racism, accept that it’s real, and cultivate justice.”
“Born into slavery in Chattanooga, Tennessee, William “Bill” Lewis learned the blacksmith trade as soon as he was old enough to grip a hammer. He proved to be an exceptional blacksmith and earned so much money fixing old tools and creating new ones that he was allowed to keep a little money for himself. With just a few coins in his pocket, Bill set a daring plan in motion: he was determined to free his family. Winner of Lee & Low?s New Voices Award, Hammering for Freedom tells the true story of one man?s skill, hard work, and resolve to keep his family together.”
“How can Irene and Charles work together on their fifth grade poetry project? They don’t know each other . . . and they’re not sure they want to.
Irene Latham, who is white, and Charles Waters, who is black, use this fictional setup to delve into different experiences of race in a relatable way, exploring such topics as hair, hobbies, and family dinners. Accompanied by artwork from acclaimed illustrators Sean Qualls and Selina Alko (of The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage), this remarkable collaboration invites readers of all ages to join the dialogue by putting their own words to their experiences.”
“Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy by Tony Medina offers a fresh perspective of young men of color by depicting thirteen views of everyday life.”
“An entertaining picture book that teaches the importance of asking for permission first as a young girl attempts to escape the curious hands that want to touch her hair.”
“Beautiful, colorful illustrations tell the inspirational stories of ten black women and women’s collectives from 1793 to the present.”
“Through sparse and lyrical writing, Rob Sanders introduces abstract concepts like “fighting for what you believe in” and turns them into something actionable.”
“Betty Before X is a powerful middle-grade fictionalized account of the childhood activism of Betty Shabazz, Malcolm X’s wife, written by their daughter Ilyasah Shabazz.”
“Meet 52 icons of color from the past and present in this celebration of inspirational achievement—a collection of stories about changemakers to encourage, inspire and empower the next generation of changemakers.”
Did I miss any great titles that came out in 2018? Please let me know and I will add them to the list!
**Update at the bottom of this post
TW: racist and misogynistic trauma
It seems I will never be able to attend an American Library Association meeting without encountering some kind of racist, sexist trauma. ALA just isn’t a safe space in our profession for me. And I’m not the only one.
During Council Forum, a small, informal discussion session for ALA Council and general ALA membership, a fellow councilor, a white man, verbally attacked me. He accused me of being a hypocrite, for doxxing people and making “racial innuendos” on my blog. He accused me of being uncivil and unprofessional (yes, he accused me of this in a tirade in a public forum amongst our colleagues). Then, he ended by claiming that I give him “nightmares.”
There were about 30 people sitting around witnessing this, including the Council facilitators; including some Councilors who have served repetitive terms for the last…
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