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Response to Wilder Award Name Change

30 Jun

At its meeting on Saturday, June 23, 2018, the Association for Library Service to Children Board voted to change the name of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award.

This decision was made in consideration of the fact that Wilder’s legacy, as represented by her body of work, includes expressions of stereotypical attitudes inconsistent with ALSC’s core values of inclusiveness, integrity and respect, and responsiveness. ” (ALA website)

You don’t often hear the ALA annual conference make waves in the media, but apparently changing the name of an award is reported on a variety of news sources. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award “honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a significant and lasting contribution to children’s literature through books that demonstrate integrity and respect for all children’s lives and experiences.” (ALA website)

Many people have responded on social media both showing support for the name change as well as frustration and even some misunderstanding.

A few of the common arguments against the name change include:

  • Censorship
    No one has suggested that Wilder’s books be removed from libraries and bookstores.
  • Diminishment of Past Award Winners
    Changing the name of the award does not diminish past award winners or their contributions to children’s literature
  • Above and Beyond Political Correctness
    As you can see from the quote above, ALSC spent a lot of time discussing its core values and how having a prestigious award named for someone who has outdated views and a stereotypical attitude can be offensive and not supportive of inclusiveness and the diversity of the publishing world. Imagine receiving an award named for someone who wrote racially insensitive material if you were Black or Native American?
  • Change the Name of Other Awards
    There is already talk about changing the name of the Theodore Seuss Geisel Award as Dr. Seuss produced a number of political cartoons that were downright racist. Many people have suggested that perhaps naming awards after people isn’t the best practice as cultural views change over time.

My thoughts on the issue are that I think ALSC took a situation that could potentially be difficult to navigate and made a decision that is forward-thinking and supportive of authors and illustrators of color to create a more inclusive award that focuses on the work and not the history of the person it’s named for.

I read (and loved) the Little House books growing up and I think that when I read these books I knew that historical fiction meant that some views were antiquated and not acceptable in today’s society. I think people can make their own decision as to whether they want to read the Little House books, but there are also other titles that can be read in place of or together with Wilder’s books for viewpoints from other authors such as The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. I applaud ALSC for taking into consideration inclusivity and diversity in today’s society.

Congratulations to Jacqueline Woodson the winner of the 2018 Children’s Literature Legacy Award.

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Amazon Kindle to Support Arabic Language Materials

27 Jun

“Amazon announced today that Kindle customers around the globe can now enjoy reading from a growing selection of more than 12,000 Arabic language Kindle books on Kindle devices and the free Kindle app for iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets and Fire Tablets. Starting today, readers will find a large digital selection of popular Arabic language titles in the Kindle Store including books from leading authors like Naguib Mahfouz, and Nizar Qabani, best-sellers like Al Aswad Yaliko Biki and Harbo Alkalbi Athania (winner of the 2018 International Prize for Arabic Fiction), classics like Ibn Khaldoun’s Muqadimah, Al-Mutanabbi’s anthology, and Kalila wa Dimna as well as translated English language bestsellers like How to Win Friends and Influence PeopleDiary of a Wimpy Kid, A Tale of Two Cities and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” (Amazon Press Release)

kindle-242594_960_720This will provide easier access to Arabic titles and other English language bestsellers to the Arabic-speaking population across the globe. I’m not quite sure the reason behind not being able to access Arabic language materials through the eBook format before this time, but whether it had to do with the font or the limited print runs which might mean a smaller audience looking for these titles, regardless of the reason – this makes reading even more accessible around the globe as many people carry cell phones today and can read from the free Kindle app.

This is even more exciting as I hope it means Amazon is looking to reach out to support other languages in the future. From what I can gather on their website, Kindles can currently (and easily) support a number of Roman alphabet-based languages, but often has more difficulty with cursive or character based languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, etc.  With this new support for Arabic, readers can adjust and highlight text as necessary making this support even more helpful.

For more information about Arabic language support, check out Engadget’s article or the article on c|net.

Turn This Book Into a Beehive! An Interview with Author, Lynn Brunelle

19 Apr

35489137.jpgReview: This is a fascinating book – not only for the fun facts about bees and what makes them so vital to the ecosystem, but that the book has so many amazing activities that kids can do at home with materials they can easily get ahold of. These activities are fully integrated into the content of the book, plus the book provides you with the materials need to create your own beehive. And on a side note, I learned that a hive is manmade while a nest is naturally occurring from this book! This would be a great title to purchase for summer vacation to encourage kids to learn about the world around them and having fun at the same time (which truly is the best way to learn)! This book will be published on May 15th, so mark your calendars or pre-order, you won’t be disappointed!

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