This is a test: Updating Word Press for the Lee and Low Blog

WESTFIELD, NJ — Led by Westfield High School teacher Jane D’Alessandro, students at WHS are collecting jeans for local youth experiencing homelessness through a project called Teens for Jeans. So far they have collected hundreds of pairs.

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“I was inspired to show students that if we work together, we can help in a big way,”  D’Alessandro said. “I challenged each person, student, staff, faculty member, to bring in two pairs to build a collection to serve homeless teens in our area. Teens helping teens — awesome! I like the recycling aspect, too. These jeans will be used and not shredded. I discussed it with the president of our WHS club Kids on the Block, Ethan Otis,and he loved the idea.”

Jeans are the most requested item by homeless people, D’Alessandro noted.

“They can be worn for a few days with being washed, they are comfortable and sturdy and provide a sense of normalcy,” she said.

Collection will continue through Friday, Feb. 27, at Westfield High School.

Kids who bring in at least two pairs and post pictures of themselves on the Teens for Jeans website are eligible to win a $5,000 scholarship, Dalessandro said.

Thirteen African American Authors We’re Reading

Here at LEE & LOW, we believe in reading diversely year round. We know that reading diversely doesn’t happen by accident, it requires a regular and concerted effort. Ethnic heritage months like Black History Month can be a double-edged sword as people often only look at their ethnic book collections during these months. In her TedTalk, author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warns of the dangers of a single story. By allowing for only one kind of narrative, we can fall into the danger of stereotyping.

In honor of Black History Month, LEE & LOW staff shares seven books by African American authors that we’ve read recently, as well as seven of our favorite LEE & LOW titles by African American Authors:

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Apply for the Virginia Hamilton and Arnold Adoff Creative Outreach Grant for Teachers and Librarians

Since many of our readers are librarians and educators with a passion for diverse books, we’re reposting information on this special grant that may be of interest:

The Virginia Hamilton Conference on Multicultural Literature for Youth is now accepting applications for the Annual Virginia Hamilton and Arnold Adoff Creative Outreach Grants for Teachers and Librarians.

Each year, the Conference offers two grants up to $1,000 each for projects to develop new classroom or library programs that raise awareness of multicultural literature among young people; particularly, but not exclusively, through the works of Virginia Hamilton. Continue reading

Interview With Joseph McGill, Founder of the Slave Dwelling Project

Joseph McGillToday on the blog we are honored to be able to interview Joseph McGill, Founder of the Slave Dwelling Project, which works to preserve extant slave dwellings and organizes overnight stays in them to bring attention to the history and experiences of enslaved people. Welcome, Mr. McGill! Continue reading

7 Core Values to Celebrate During Black History Month

The month of February is a time when many communities pause and celebrate the great contributions made by African Americans in history. At Lee & Low we like to not only highlight African Americans who have made a difference, but also explore the diverse experiences of black culture throughout history, from the struggle for freedom in the South and the fight for civil rights to the lively rhythms of New Orleans jazz and the cultural explosion of the Harlem Renaissance.

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Celebrate Black History Month with Five Collections from LEE & LOW BOOKS

February is Black History Month. The origins of Black History Month began with historian Carter G. Woodson launching Negro History Week in 1926. Woodson felt that teaching African American history was essential for the survival of the African American race.

In 1969, students at Kent State University proposed expanding Black History Week to Black History Month. The first Black History Month was celebrated a year later. In 1976, Black History Month was recognized by the federal government and has been celebrated ever since.

Today, heritage months can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, relegating culturally diverse books to specific months of the year can mean these books are overlooked the rest of the year. It can also separate Black history from American history, when in fact black history is American history. Continue reading

The Diversity Baseline Survey: What Happens Next?

Diversity 102Since its release, the Diversity Baseline Survey (DBS) has become the most visited blog post we have ever produced. The DBS has been widely read and written about, and has opened up a renewed interest in how to improve staff diversity in the publishing industry. In our first piece, Behind the Scenes of Publishing’s First Diversity Baseline Survey, we covered the methodology and obstacles we faced conducting the survey. In this piece we will shed light on what happens next—and what’s already happening to improve the numbers. Continue reading

Using Media Literacy to Examine Diversity In Literature

Guest BloggerIn this guest post, author and media literacy expert Tina L. Peterson, Ph.D., demonstrates how media literacy skills can help readers think deeply about diversity in books.

When I was a kid, I rarely paid attention to the ethnicities of characters in my favorite books. I probably assumed that, because I related to them, they were like me – white, suburban, and middle class. Despite the fact that many of my classmates and close friends were Latino and Asian, it didn’t occur to me that the characters in most books I read didn’t represent the mix of people in my life. Continue reading

Remembering Francisco Alarcón

Beloved poet and educator Francisco X. Francisco X Alarcon Alarcón passed away on January 15, 2016. Francisco was a prolific writer of poetry for children and adults. Born in California and raised in Mexico, Francisco’s poems explore his Chicano identity and celebrate the double joy of being a poet in two languages. His awards include multiple Pura Belpré Honors as well the Chicano Literary Prize and the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award. His passing is a great loss to the world of Latino literature.

We asked some of the authors and artists who knew Francisco to share their memories of him: Continue reading

Author/Illustrator Lulu Delacre Takes Us Behind the Art of ¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z!

Alto, allá arriba en los Andes brilla un bosque bordado de bromelias…
High up in the Andes blooms a brilliant forest embroidered with bromeliads . . .

Set to be released this spring, ¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! / Olinguito, from A to Z! : Descubriendo el bosque nublado / Unveiling the Cloud Forest takes readers into the magical world of a cloud forest in the Andes of Ecuador. We discover the bounty of plants, animals, and other organisms that live there as we help a zoologist look for the elusive olinguito, the first new mammal species identified in the Americas since 1978. It has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews, which called it “a breath of fresh air in the too-often-contrived world of bilingual books.” Continue reading

Exploring Children's Books Through the Lens of Diversity