This discussion topic came across my periphery at an ideal time. Eventbrite, the largest self-service ticketing platform in the world that helps people find and plan events, has reached out to me with a great idea for a piece. Eventbrite has a pretty neat resource that can be used to plan and find conferences in your local area!
To be honest, for my panel of authors, I haven’t read any of them – save for the synopses on a book I may have purchased for the library. But from my past experience, as a school librarian, I had come to understand that there were many students who were looking for books written by people who looked like them. I also had a former colleague admit that when he was in junior high, he felt somewhat alone being surrounded by very white all-American kids and finding a book about or written by a person of color was not the norm. This was near ten years ago, and I’m happy to say things have improved since then. Gradually.
My authors are writers of color. African. Asian. Indigenous (to name a few). I would like to try and combine a large collection of cultural differences and bring them to the table to discuss their books, their writing, and, of course, themselves.
Marie Lu is a Chinese American born writer. Best known for her dystopian novels like the trilogy Legend and The Young Elites series. She was a very popular author for my young female students, and I believe she’d make an awesome panelist.
Mr. Alexander is an American poet, whose novels have been about sports. I have tried my darnedest to try and introduce his books to my basketball lovin’ students, but he’s a tough sell – at least he was for me. However, I’m sure Kwame has the ability to charm the crowd with what he has to say.
Angela Johnson is a well-acclaimed writer and poet, and her vast experience has offered children and middle grade kids such a selection of reading material. Before I had left my previous job, I was in the process of purchasing the series “Heaven” simply because of it’s realism and the characters.
According to Sherman Alexie’s bio he is considered an “urban Indian”. I know of Mr. Alexie because of the book The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2007), it’s a relatively recent addition to the Banned Books list (2014). Because of his style of writing and for his personal background as a Native American, Alexie would make for an interesting, newer perspective on writing through the eyes of a person of color.
Ghana Must Go has been on TBR list for a long time, but Selasi is a London-born with a lengthy education background, worldly, and has a few other projects under her belt. I believe her travels and her contribution of the written word would be a great addition to any conference panel.
Last, but not least, Sharon Draper. I remember when I introduced the series “Hazelwood High” to a reluctant ninth-grader a couple of years ago. As previously mentioned I had a coworker confide in his lack of ability to find and connect with characters that weren’t like him. I’ve always carried this with me, and although some people might think that I may be racially profiling my students in order to find them something to read, I believe what I’m doing is trying to find characters that might be easier to relate. I digress, Draper’s books inspired this teen to continue reading, or at least keep him from completely turning up his nose at the idea of picking up a book. Draper has been publishing books for a few decades and I believe her overall experience in life and writing would do well for conversation.
Although there is a large number of authors out there who could fit the bill, I chose these six because of their cultural backgrounds and what they could potentially bring to the table in regards to their writing style and their personal selves. Perhaps being able to inspire a child or adult because they have finally found an author that is relatable, either through themselves or literature.
Let me know what you think.
Do you agree? Who would you choose instead?