So I was at the library the other day, checking out the books in the new teen fiction section, when I thought, “Huh, how many of these books involve POC?” (Spoiler alert: Not a lot.)
A little context: my local library is the only library in a city with a population that’s overwhelmingly Asian American. To call POC a ‘minority’ is a joke, in these parts. Seriously. When I was in high school, 76% of the students were Asian American. Given the main demographic in my city, I figured that the library would have slightly more variety than the average library. Still, the numbers were pretty dismal.
Out of approximately 180 books (30/shelf x 6 shelves), I found 11 written by or about POC. That’s 6.1%, but since I might have missed one or two, let’s go with 7%.
Contemporary/Realistic YA lit:
Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez
Invasion by Walter Dean Myers
Beware of Boys by Kelli London
Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj
Sci fi/fantasy YA lit:
Feral Curse by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Warrior by Ellen Oh
Prodigy by Marie Lu
Champion by Marie Lu
The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki
Romeo and Juliet by Gareth Hinds
So… At my local library, 7% of the new teen fiction section are books written by/about POC. If Hamlet were a modern day book nerd, he would say that something is rotten in the state of publishing.
What’s the make up of your library’s new YA lit section?
3 Replies to “At the library…”
Great question. I’m going to go investigate tomorrow.
That is certainly disappointing but also provides a “teachable moment” and spur for activism in the same was that the fight over the Mexican American Studies courses in Arizona has done. Libraries generally respond to requests by patrons, and a book really needs only two favorable reviews from a major trade journal to be acquired if requested. So you all should work with the kids to request books and keep the pressure on.
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