We’re nearing the end of our 2014 Reading Challenge, which is hard to believe, and titles continue to pour in from readers dedicated to diversifying their reading habits. Join us these last two months and consider buying some books by or about Latin@s as holiday gifts! Here are the guidelines: read one book a month that is written by a Latin@ author (any subject) or a book written by anyone that has Latin@ characters, themes, settings, etc. You’re not required to review–only read and enjoy and let us know what you have read! If you do post a review somewhere, we will link it to the book covers below. If you choose not to review, we will link the covers to Goodreads. Explore our book lists, past book talks (Libros Latin@s), and titles read by readers in the challenge for suggestions. Below are the books read by challenge participants in September and October.
If you want to diversify your TBR pile, this is the perfect month to do it since it is National Hispanic Heritage Month. Our challenge is heading into its final months, but it’s never too late to join us. Here are the guidelines: read one book a month that is written by a Latin@ author (any subject) or a book written by anyone that has Latin@ characters, themes, settings, etc. You’re not required to review–only read and enjoy and let us know what you have read! If you do post a review somewhere, we will link it to the book covers below. If you choose not to review, we will link the covers to Goodreads. Explore our book lists or past book talks (Libros Latin@s) for suggestions.
Also, since this is National Banned Books Week, you can choose from the Latin@ titles that have been challenged, according to this list kept by the National Council of Teachers of English. Here they are:
And here are some of the titles read by our Reading Challenge participants:
This month, we are taking a look at Latin@s in science fiction and fantasy. Today, we have a guest post from Stephanie Diaz, debut author of Extraction, which releases July 22.
By Stephanie Diaz
Thanks so much to Latin@s in Kid Lit for having me here on the blog today! I wanted to share a few of my thoughts on diversity in science fiction, stemming from my experiences as a half-Latina writer of YA.
My father’s side of my family is Latino, primarily of Mexican and Spanish descent. My mother’s ancestors were white Europeans, mostly French and German. I grew up in an English-speaking household, in a Southern California town a state away from my dad’s side of the family. As such, I’ve never been hugely in touch with the Latina side of my roots, except during Christmas vacation, and for a long time it had no great influence on my writing.
My first book, which I wrote in middle school, was a story about a family in the Civil War era. My second book was a fantasy with demons and magical swords. The book I wrote in college and sold to a publisher, Extraction, was my first try at writing science fiction. It wasn’t until I was well into revising the novel that conversations about diversity in fiction grew more widespread and caught my attention. For the first time, I took a long, hard look at my characters and realized I’d made some of the supporting characters different races, but the main characters of the cast were pretty much all white. And my book was supposed to be set on a planet in a completely different galaxy! Here I’d had so much potential to diversify my made-up world, and I’d wasted it.
I plan on doing a better job in the future. I’m still working on the second and third books in the Extraction trilogy, making sure I pay attention and don’t automatically whitewash every new character I introduce to the cast. I’m also working on an unrelated YA sci-fi with a multi-racial/multi-species cast. The beauty of stories set in the future or in distant worlds is that there are so many ways for a writer to imagine how cultures will grow and influence one another over time. Science fiction allows me to imagine all sorts of possibilities that don’t exist in real life, but real life has to be an influence to make the story believable.
My goal is to tell stories that show life the way it is and the way it could evolve—and life is diverse. In physical characteristics, but also in a wealth of traditions. I’m learning that understanding the differences in all the world’s cultures is key to creating new ones, whether they be human or a made-up species.
My hope is that my own books and other books in this genre will grow more and more diverse in the coming years, drawing on little-known cultures to expand the worldview of all readers. I hope to be able to pay homage to my Latina heritage, as well as the other cultures in my blood, in future novels I write. But more than that, I hope to tell many stories about different kinds of people, not just the people I know best. After all, how can I grow as a writer—or a person—if I never venture out of my comfort zone?
Twenty-one-year-old Stephanie Diaz wrote her debut novel, Extraction, when she should’ve been making short films and listening to class lectures at San Diego State University. When she isn’t lost in books, she can be found singing, marveling at the night sky, or fan-girling over TV shows. Visit her online at www.stephaniediazbooks.com.
You can email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Extraction, published by St. Martin’s Press, releases July 22. Here is a description of Stephanie’s debut novel:
Clementine has spent her whole life preparing for her 16th birthday when she’ll be tested for Extraction, in the hopes of being sent from Kiel’s toxic Surface to the much safer Core, where people live without fear or starvation. When she proves promising enough to be “extracted,” she must leave without Logan, the boy she loves. Torn apart from her only sense of family, Clem promises to come back and save him from brutal Surface life. What she finds initially at the Core is a utopia compared to the Surface—it’s free of hard labor, gun-wielding officials, and the moon’s lethal acid—but life is anything but safe, and Clementine learns that the planet’s leaders are planning to exterminate Surface dwellers—and that means Logan, too. Trapped by the steel walls of the underground and the lies that keep her safe, Clementine must find a way to escape and rescue Logan and the rest of the planet. But the planet’s leaders don’t want her running—they want her subdued.
Participants in our 2014 Latin@s in Kid Lit Reading Challenge are out of control in the best possible way! Take a look at the variety of books that were read in June, which happens to be the half-way point of the challenge. Now would be a great time to join us or renew your commitment to the challenge, which is to read one book a month that is written by a Latin@ author (any subject) or a book written by anyone that has Latin@ characters, themes, settings, etc. You’re not required to review–only read and enjoy and let us know what you have read! If you do post a review somewhere, we will link it to the book covers below. If you choose not to review, we will link the covers to Goodreads. For July, you may want to consider some of the new winners of the International Latino Book Awards.
Students are counting down the days to the end of the school year, but teachers and librarians are making sure they don’t leave the building without summer reading lists. Although educators offer suggestions, be sure to review the lists of titles with an eye out for diversity. If the lists lack a wide range of topics and diverse characters, then seek out those books. Below are some suggestions from readers participating in our 2014 Latin@ in Kid Lit Reading Challenge. Thank you to everyone for participating in the challenge and purposely selecting books by/about/for Latin@s. Remember, you can join the challenge any time during the year, and you’re not required to review–only read and enjoy! If you do post a review somewhere, we will link it to the book covers below. If you choose not to review, we will link the covers to Goodreads.
Also, keep in mind that June is National Caribbean-American Heritage Month! Here are a few suggestions of authors known to write about people from the Caribbean: Julia Alvarez (Dominican Republic), Margarita Engle (Cuba), Eric Velazquez (Puerto Rico), Christina Diaz Gonzalez (Cuba), Lynn Joseph (Dominican Republic, Trinidad), Judith Ortiz Cofer (Puerto Rico), and Nancy Osa (Cuba). Happy reading!
A note to participants: As you complete books, please send us the information, so we can share what you’re reading each month.
We love to post the monthly Reading Challenge update because it’s fun to see what people are reading, readers give us titles to add to our book lists, people are reading more Latin@ Kid Lit (yay), and look at all the beautiful artwork on those covers. We’re even more excited than usual about this month’s post because it comes as the We Need Diverse Books Campaign is underway. The hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks has been trending on Twitter since before the campaign official began.
Here are contributions from our own Zoraida Córdova, Lila Q. Weaver, and Cindy L. Rodriguez (well, her daughter):
Today, people are engaged in the second part of the campaign. A Twitter chat is scheduled for 2 p.m. (EST). Use the same hashtag and share your thoughts on the issues with diversity in literature and why diversity matters to you.
Tomorrow, is the third part of the campaign, called the Diversify Your Shelves initiative to encourage people to buy diverse books and take photos of them. Before you head out to buy books, take a look at what participants in our 2014 Latin@s In Kid Lit Challenge read in April.
We will say this and mean it every month: Thank you to everyone for participating in the challenge and purposely selecting books by/about/for Latin@s. Remember, you can join the challenge any time during the year, and you’re not required to review–only read and enjoy! If you do post a review somewhere, we will link it to the book covers below. If you choose not to review, we will link the covers to Goodreads.