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Writers Against Racism: Why?

Do you think book publishers are aware (or even care), how people like me interpret their catalogs?

I’ll also note that the publishers I contacted for the W.A.R. series have not yet responded to my questions – I know, everyone’s busy.

But Square Fish sent me their Winter 2010 catalog and I must say, the new paperback releases look awesome! They are featuring the fine works of Margarita Engle, Elise Broach, Tom Lalicki, Cynthia DeFelice, Karen Hesse and many other wonderful authors. I’m also proud to report that TWO of their featured authors appeared on Bowllan’s Blog: Yankee Girl (Square Fish, December 23, 2008) by Mary Ann Rodman and Snow Falling in Spring (Farrar, Straus and Giroux March 18, 2008) by Moying Li.

Let me cut to the chase…

Where are the other authors of color? Besides Moying Li, and Nikki Giovanni, Traci L. Jones’ book, Standing Against the Wind (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, September 5, 2006), is the only full-page feature from an author of color. Even their Seasonal Back List section has books for Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and other notable holidays, and Nikki Giovanni’s, Rosa is the only feature. 


Haven’t they been reading W.A.R? There are so many authors who shared their stories with my readers, whose books would be PERFECT for the holidays, and for school reading lists.

Prior to the W.A.R. series, whenever I received a new releases catalog from publishers, I raced to see what’s coming down the pike. Now I am looking for good releases from a myriad of authors and am hoping publishers are doing the same.  


  1. George Edward Stanley says:

    Honestly, I think the first step is to get the public schools in this country to revise their reading lists so that the books students are required to read truly represent the diverse student population of this country. Once that is accomplished, once publishers see that schools are wanting more and more books that speak to all groups that make up this great nations, instead of just to a few, then I think publishers will start buying more titles such as the ones written the fantastic W.A.R. writers. Most major publishing houses today are owned by large corporations who look at the “bottom line.” I’m a capitalist. I believe in that system. So we just need to prove that these books will sell – and I think we need somehow to convince educators that it is extremely important to today’s students that their schools’ reading lists speak to EVERYONE.

  2. Amy Bowllan says:

    The next question, how do we convince the schools that these books, are “worthy” if they are not being read? Our national conference has to send that message, George. Thanks, as always for your thoughts.

  3. George Edward Stanley says:

    Naturally, I think we should start at the top (!!) with the U.S. Department of Education. I should think Secretary Duncan’s office would (or certainly SHOULD) be interested in this movement. If your readers could identify for us (and some of the W.A.R veterans already have given us some of this information) some of the school districts around the country where reading lists seem not to match the diverse student populations, then maybe we could send a compilation of the war stories to the state superintedents of education asking them to consider making sure the state reading lists represent ALL of the students in their states. I’d be willing to send this to Oklahoma, certainly, and even some of the surrounding states. As strange as it may sound, I’m starting to believe that it has actually never occured to educators in some school districts that reading lists don’t address this issue.

  4. The Brain Lair says:

    I’m happy to say that our school is working on adding multicultural titles to our lists. We have books that students read about anti-bullying, a grade level novel, and a novel for enriched students. Lots of opportunities to add color.

    We just added Francie to 7th gr enriched, Jumped to 8th grade, and A Single Shard to 6th!

  5. George Edward Stanley says:

    Great, Brain Lair! I am so happy to hear this. This is where I think it should start. If schools let publishers know they want more novels of color, novels that address every kind of discrimination, etc., then I think it’ll happen!

  6. It has to begin at every level. We have started the One City, One Book initiative here (two teachers and one librarian) in order to get teachers to start looking at other books and how they can excite the people who read them. I was so excited this year to hear my students say they were having trouble getting the selected book read because their parents had borrowed the book to read and wouldn’t give it back until they finished. It takes something like this to get some teachers to look up from the book list they made up twenty years ago. Waiting for them to realize it is like waiting for molassas to run back into the tree. It isn’t going to happen, so we jerk them out of their comfort zone through community reads, author visits, skyping, Web casts, and anything else that works. Every time we select a book for the One City, thousands of copies are sold. We are getting the attention of some publishers, and we are slowly adding variety to the established book lists. My advice is not to wait for the district, state, federal authorities, or local departments to do something. It is too easy for them to remain static and wait for someone to sell them a “new” program which will “solve all the problems of education.” Getting students to read and getting them involved in the issues raised in books does more good than any “new” program or federal mandate.

  7. George Edward Stanley says:

    Beverly, I think this is THE PLAN! I am really looking forward to my Skyp visit with your students in Laredo!