We The People Summer Reading List

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Earlier this week, We The People released the fourth annual Summer Reading List. This year’s list was curated by Sujei Lugo, Alia Johnson, Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Dr. Laura Jimenez, Thaddeus Andrecki and Dr. Sonia Rodriguez. The list once again highlights select picture books, chapter books/early readers, middle grade books, young adult books and adult crossovers. A pdf of the list is available on the site.

While many know that summer reading lists are good ways to keep young people reading so that their literacy skills remain sharp over the summer months, many also seem to forget that the lists need to appeal to all readers. Our list is an #ownvoices list, with Indigenous authors and authors of color writing from their life experience. We do also include books illustrated by IPOC artists. We were particularly challenged this year to avoid 2017 titles. There are more older titles on the list this year, and so far I’m hearing much appreciation for that.

Each book on our list is read by two members of our committee in an effort to eliminate books with microaggressions and stereotypes. Off-hand comments or remarks that reflect on cultures, disabilities, religions, body types or ages do not have a place on our list. Just as important, we work hard to incorporate books that intersect with representations of disabilities, gender identities and sexual orientations. We work to curate a list that will stimulate any child’s creativity while reinforcing their sense of worth. This list is meant to help young readers on the quest to create their space in the world. We work very hard to get it right. Don’t we all?

This is particularly important to do with a summer list. This is when parents and librarians are striving to find books to give young readers to keep them reading. I know there are well meaning parents who want their children to use their time in the summer to read what they did as a child; to find the “classics” or meet successful people through biographies on historical texts. As a librarian, I believe in building a life long love of reading my finding material that is enjoyable. We search across platforms to find web-based texts, graphic novels and self-published books. Every year, we find books that we can’t believe we’ve not included before. There are so many good books out there!! Please use our list to help young readers you know to find books they may not have heard about.

Wherever or however you choose to find books for young readers, find them!  Keep young people reading. Talk to them about what they’re reading, and about what you’re reading as well. Help them create their space in the world.

One thought on “We The People Summer Reading List

  1. Edi, as you know I posted this originally at Lyn Miller-Lachmann’s blog, where you were kind to thank me for bringing it to people’s attention and saying “we hear you.” I hoped that a robust conversation would result, but I haven’t seen that start, yet. In the hopes that it might happen here, or be sparked here, I cross-post my original concern. Thank you!

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    “Do a thought experiment and imagine what the response would be if the only two Native nations-content books on the “We’re the People” 2018 list had been written by a non-Native person depicting the experiences of a non-Native character in a narrative that references Native Americans, and a few Native nations poets’ work out of dozens total in a collection curated by a different non-Native person. Because that is exactly what “We’re the People” 2018 does with Jewish representation. In operative effect it equates Jewishness with Israel, and then gives Israel a harmful and/or marginal depiction. It is hard to believe that with so many award-winning #ownvoices Jewish authors and Jewish themes over the years (see the Sidney Taylor Awards for example), the selection committee couldn’t find even one Jewish #ownvoices author/title to add.

    “There is a suspicion among many that in the progressive SJW/Diversity Jedi community, Jewishness is equated with American Whiteness. This “We’re the People” 2018 list does nothing to allay that suspicion. The lack of reaction, either by Jewish or non-Jewish Diversity Jedi, is both puzzling and troubling. Had the same erasure and/or harmful representation happened with any other ethnic, racial, religious, national, religious, or traditionally marginalized group, there would have been an uproar. Here, the silence is deafening.”

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