Student Snippets


NBA All-Stars

NBA in this case is not basketball. It's the National Book Awards which were held last night. I have a lot of interest in the National Book Awards. More specifically, I have a lot of interest in the Young People's Literature category of the National Book Awards.

This year, I am thrilled to share the winner was Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson's memoir of growing up in the 1960s and 1970s between South Carolina and New York.

This win is particularly exciting if you follow the We Need Diverse Books movement. Basically, the We Need Diverse Books movement is a grassroots campaign to get more diverse books published and out to readers. What are diverse books? According to the WNDB mission statement, "We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities."

This year's short list for the National Book Award included some aspect of diversity in every book. That's amazing! Kathleen T. Horning wrote a stellar article about the importance of the National Book Award committee's selection of this year's nominees and how it could change the face of children's literature here. I'd encourage you to read it! It's not very long, but it's a great informative article about the work to get more diverse voices in young people's literature.

Horning ends the article by saying "Want more diverse books? Recognize them with more awards." The National Book Awards have been consistently doing so. Of the last five years, three of the award winners have been people of color and their books featured main characters of color. That's pretty fantastic. If you keep following the award farther back, you'll see that it isn't unusual either. The National Book Awards (at least in their Young People's Literature category) have usually honored diverse books with awards.

So if you think diversity in literature is important, support diverse voices. Check out any of these books from your local library. Or, if you can afford to, buy them from your local bookstore. Keep your eye out for the (hopefully many!) new and great books from writers of diverse backgrounds.

Here are the other short-listed nominees in Young People's Literature:

Threatened by Eliot Schrefer

The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin

Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Revolution by Deborah Wiles

And in case you're curious, here are the winners of the other categories:

Fiction: Redeployment by Phil Klay

Nonfiction: Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos

Poetry: Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Glück