I used to collect Asian/American and Mixed children’s book titles at my former blog Multiracial Asian Families. Once I stopped posting at that blog, however, I stopped updating the book lists. Years later, I suddenly find myself needing to collect again. A couple things have lead me back to this point.
Professionally, I’ve been giving more talks at schools and in family-oriented settings. Parents frequently ask, “Do you have a book list?” I used to suggest a simple web search, but parents would get discouraged. Because web searching isn’t simple, and it takes time to sift through results. For parents who don’t have a lot of time this isn’t a helpful suggestion. Also, I realized, parents wanted my recommendations, not the recommendations of a stranger.
Personally, since my son started chapter books, I noticed it’s become even harder to find things that mirror his experience than when he was younger. Even if I can find something Asian, there seem to be more books about Asians in Asia than about Asian Americans. There’s not enough ethnic diversity and I’ve never once found a book on Taiwan, where my family is from. Then, add to that, there’s still so few books about Mixed kids.
Continue reading “I’m Starting a Book Club for Asian/Am and Mixed Kids Lit”
Kids books cover my kitchen table everywhere. Stories about Asians and Asian Americans, Mixed Race youth and adults. Books piled so high they slip to the side, slide across the smooth wood, create a sheathe like a tablecloth. Hands scoot the mounds back together. It’s hard to find a place to eat between all these covers wrapped in protective plastic. When the family sits down at last, we gaze at words, titles, stacked spines labeled with numbers and letters. We end up reading over dinner.
I’ve decided to spend more time with diverse children’s and youth literature. Specifically, with Asian, Asian American, and Mixed Race kids lit. For many reasons. One, parents at school talks have been asking me for recommendations. Two, I adore picture books and think some of the best artists come together to make them. Three, it takes special writing to tackle tough topics for young people. Four, I noticed my 9-year-old was not getting enough exposure to literature reflecting his experience. In white-dominated society, children of color easily experience invisibility when adults around them don’t invest the time to counter-narrate. I held myself accountable.
To that end, I have been researching Asian, Asian American, and Mixed Race youth titles since the beginning of the year. I’ve been curating from my old lists, combing other new lists, checking out books through my city’s public library system. It’s been fun to get my finger back on the pulse of this sector of publishing. The good news? It’s been far easier to find books about Asians and Asian Americans than it was a half decade ago (Mixed Race is another story for another post). The bad news? Of the many books about Asians stacked on my dining table at the moment the majority are written by white people…