Picture This: Follow Up


Thank you.

We are blown away by the response to our CCBC infographicMany have long been advocating for diversity in children’s literature; as we’d hoped, this infographic is pushing this work along. Since September 14, the blog post has had over 36,000 views; my initial tweet made over 17,000 impressions; my Facebook post was shared over 10,000 times, including by writers Cynthia Leitich Smith, Zetta Elliott, Mike Jung, Ellen Oh, and Junot Díaz. Professors, teachers, librarians, and students – from K-12 through graduate courses at universities and public libraries across the US and the world – are printing, sharing, displaying, and discussing the infographic.

Of course, with so much visibility came many questions.

Sarah Hannah Gómez pointed out the difference between the white category in the 2012 infographic, and ours, which uses data from 2015. She noted that it may cause folks to think we have made progress. But actually, David included the bunny to show that a significant percentage of children’s literature depicts animals and inanimate objects (trucks, cupcakes, screws, etc.) as protagonists, something CCBC Director KT Horning wrote about in her 2013 blog post “I See White People.” The 2012 infographic, created prior to Horning’s 2013 post, does not reflect this, so the numbers are not exactly aligned.

Many people wondered about categorization. Where are South Asians? Why are Pacific Islanders included with Asians? Where are Jewish people? etc. Categorizing people (and books) into groups is difficult work. After some discussion, we decided to use pretty much the same category titles as the CCBC; you can read more on their website about how they categorize.

The CCBC’s data includes distinct categories for books by, and for books about, each of the demographics they count. The about category may, or may not, include a book in the by category (this happens when an Asian American writer, for example, writes a book that is not about Asian Americans.) For our infographic, we used only the about data. It is vitally important to note that this data does not reflect the quality, accuracy, etc. of the books themselves. It is also vitally important to to note that the number of books about and written and illustrated by #OwnVoices authors is significantly lower.

Our hope is that people will continue to ask questions and do the work that will uncover more information. See Debbie Reese’s post “A Close Look at CCBC’s 2015 Data on Books By/About Americans Indians/First Nations” for one example of how a scholar unpacked the data, and Jerrold Connors’ post “We Need Diverse Books, and How!” for some more graphs. As many have done with our infographic, read everything critically. Who is saying what? What is left unsaid? What more needs to be done?

In short, we still have much work to do.

Note: We made the infographic with a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 license, so you may download a JPF and PDF here.

Recommended citation: Huyck, David, Sarah Park Dahlen, Molly Beth Griffin. (2016 September 14). Diversity in Children’s Books 2015 infographic. sarahpark.com blog. Retrieved from https://readingspark.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/picture-this-reflecting-diversity-in-childrens-book-publishing/

A Week with Zetta Elliott

The Twin Cities will be hosting award-winning author, academic, and activist Zetta Elliott from Tuesday, September 13 to Saturday, September 17, 2016, for a series of panels, and school and library visits. The following events are free and open to the public.

A Week with Zetta Elliott – Events


Inclusivity and Indie Authors: The Case for Community-Based Publishing

Hosted by the St. Catherine University Master of Library and Information Science Program and its American Library Association Student Chapter, Progressive Librarians Guild, and Student Governance Organization & Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen
Tuesday September 13 @ 7:00 pm
St. Catherine University – Mendel 106
2004 Randolph Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55105
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1576818495957311/
Flyer: ZettaElliott-StKatesMLISProgram-Flyer

Inclusivity and Indie Authors: The Case for Community-Based Publishing

Hosted by Ancestry Books & the Center for Earth, Energy, and Democracy
Friday, September 16 @ 10:00 am
Lucy Laney Elementary
3333 Penn Ave N
Minneapolis, MN 55412
10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Facebook (please RSVP): https://www.facebook.com/events/187857264966279/

Zetta Elliott Reading & Panel Discussion on Elevating Absent Narratives

Saturday, September 17 @ 7:00 pm
The Loft Literary Center
1011 S Washington Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/312269269124828/

Zetta will also conduct workshops with Juxtaposition Arts and visit with students at Lucy Laney Elementary School, Bancroft Elementary School, Gordon Parks High School, Vadnais Heights Elementary School, and Maplewood Middle School.

Reading List

  1. Zetta Elliott’s books: http://www.zettaelliott.com/books/
  2. Elliott, Zetta. (2009 September 5). Something Like an Open Letter to the Children’s Publishing Industry. Zetta Elliott Blog.
  3. Atkins, Laura. (2010). White Privilege and Children’s Publishing: A Web 2.0 Case Study. Write4Children 1(2). Winchester University Press.
  4. Elliott, Zetta. (2011 May 25). Breaking Down Doors: My Self Publishing Story. The Huffington Post.
  5. Elliott, Zetta. (2012 July 2). Trayvon – Killed By an Idea. The Huffington Post.
  6. Díaz, Junot. (2014 April 30). MFA vs. POC. The New Yorker.
  7. Low, Jason. (2016 January 26). Where is the Diversity in Publishing? The 2015 Diversity Baseline Survey Results. The Open Book.
  8. Elliott, Zetta. (2016 February 1). How It Feels to be Self Published Me. Publishers Weekly.
  9. Lee, Paula Young. (2016 February 18). ‘Your manuscript is not a good fit’: How ‘we need diverse books’ can move beyond wishful thinking. Salon.
  10. Kwaymullina, Ambelin. (2016 February 22.) Writing While Black/Writing While Indigenous: Two Voices Speak on Literature, Representation and Justice. Zetta Elliott Blog.
  11. Elliott, Zetta. (2016 February 23). Writing While Black/Writing While Indigenous: Part 2. Zetta Elliott Blog.
  12. Elliott. (2016 April 5). What’s LOVE Got To Do With It? Self-Publishing as a Black Feminist Act of Radical Self-Care. The Huffington Post Books.
  13. Horning, K.T. (2016 July 21). SLJ Diversity Course: Keynote Lecture webinar. School Library Journal.
  14. Reese, Debbie. (2016 July 21). KT Horning’s Keynote for SLJ’s Diversity CourseStorify.

This week-long series of events is co-hosted by Ancestry Books, University of Minnesota Libraries Archie Givens, Sr. Collection of African American Literature/Umbra: Search African American History, Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy, Bancroft Elementary School, The Loft Literary Center, Minnesota Humanities Center, and the St. Catherine University Master of Library and Information Science Program and its American Library Association Student Chapter, Progressive Librarians Guild, and Student Governance Organization.

Contact: Shannon Gibney (shannongibney@gmail.com)

Check out the UMN’s write-up regarding Zetta’s week in MN: http://www.continuum.umn.edu/2016/09/visionary-childrens-book-writer-zetta-elliott-visits-minnesota/#.V8tHXhArKHp


APALA Talk Story Book List – First Glance

1507-0For the past several years my students and I have been compiling lists of Asian American children’s and YA literature for the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALATalk Story website (specifically, the APA booklist). This year, one of my students went to town and found hundreds of titles. (Our lists may be comparable to what the CCBC compiles – we need to double check).

A quick glance at our updated lists (not yet published to Talk Story) reveal the following:

  1. We could not find a single YA text with a Taiwanese or Laotian protagonist.
  2. White people love writing about Japan.
  3. Hold the folktales – unless you’re Asian. Then keep ’em coming.
  4. Non-adopted people still love writing about adopted Asians.
  5. We get it, we get it. Asian immigrant children struggle to speak English and are fantastic ambassadors of our cultures.
  6. We need a LOT more books with Thai, Mongolian, Malaysian, Burma/Myanmar, Filipino, and Tibetan characters.
  7. We also need a LOT more books set in Asian-inspired fantasy worlds. Let’s thank our lucky stars for Ellen Oh.

This is not an invitation to merely insert an Asian character into your text (see here and here). This is a CALL TO ACTION for Asian American authors and illustrators, and for all agents and editors and publishers and librarians and teachers and parents and caregivers and readers and scholars.

#WeNeedDiverseBooks AND #WeNeedDiverseAuthors

Introduction of Linda Sue Park at the Kerlan

Today was pretty fabulous! I got to introduce Linda Sue Park at the Kerlan Award ceremony! When you read my speech (below), you’ll understand why I’d been waiting practically my whole life to do this 🙂

Today was Baby D’s first children’s literature event, and she handled it like a pro. Jeff brought her early enough so we could nurse before all the festivities began, and then she stayed awake and smiled through lunch as she met my students, colleagues, and friends. Linda Sue and Kate DiCamillo were very gracious and took a photo with Baby D and me, and she also got a photo with the wonderful John Coy, who chaired this year’s Kerlan Award committee.

I’m posting my speech here in case you’re interested. Linda Sue’s speech will be filed at the UMN Children’s Literature Research Collection so you can visit and read it there.

2014 March 29 Kerlan Award Linda Sue Park introductory remarks

By Sarah Park Dahlen

Hello. My name is Sarah Park Dahlen and it is my honor to introduce our 2014 Kerlan Award winner Linda Sue Park. You may be wondering, so I’ll just tell you now: we are not related 🙂 Actually, we might be, if we go back far enough.

In 2002, I was in graduate school and learned that a Korean American author had just for the first time ever won the Newbery Award, and it was for an historical fiction novel set in Korea. I was a history major; I studied Korean history; I loved children’s literature; I’m Korean American; and I really, really, really wanted a celadon vase. It was too perfect. I had grown up without ever seeing a Korean person in literature, so when I learned about and read A Single Shard, I was blown away. This novel was one of the reasons I decided to get my Ph.D. to study Korean American children’s books. Soon after, Linda Sue came to Los Angeles’ Pio Pico Koreatown’s Public Library, and I got to meet her. Since then, I have taken advantage of every opportunity, attending all her book signings and chasing her down at conferences. It paid off – a few years ago, she invited me to have breakfast.

Linda Sue is the author of at least twenty books for young people. Her historical fiction novel has garnered the most prestigious award, and her other books have also been highly commended by organizations such as the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Committee, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, Bank Street, Booklist, and School Library Journal. Linda Sue’s texts include various genres and address multiple audiences – she has written picture books, poetry, historical fiction, contemporary fiction, and books in the 39 Clues series and short stories in Click and The Chronicles of Harris Burdick. Her stories celebrate Korean food and the beauty of Korean celadon in Bee-Bim-Bop and A Single Shard. They reveal the painful histories of the Korean War and Japanese colonialism in Keeping Score and When My Name was Keoko. She has introduced readers to “Lost Boys” and the wonderful Water for Sudan project in A Long Walk to Water and to the many different sounds made by animals from all over the world in Mung Mung: A Foldout Book of Animal Sounds. Just as Mung Mung shows both the differences and commonalities of animals from different parts of the world, Linda Sue loves how all her stories make connections. She emphasizes the connectivity and connective role of her work in bridging relationships between people and places and time periods. For example, her stories have brought all of us – readers of different ages and backgrounds and from different parts of the children’s literature universe – here in one place at the Kerlan today.

Here, to the Kerlan, Linda Sue is both generous and thorough. At one book signing she mentioned that she had 37 complete drafts of When My Name was Keoko on her computer. While I’m not sure all 37 made it into the Kerlan Collection, Linda Sue’s generosity to the Kerlan is remarkable. One of my favorite things to read in the Kerlan’s author files is the correspondence between author and editor because you learn so much about the author and how her work developed. Linda Sue’s correspondence begins with her very first rejection letter, and you can trace her confidence and feel her persistence as you read through her very polite and ever optimistic exchange with her editor. We are fortunate to have Linda Sue’s files here at the Kerlan because through her documents we can learn more about the development of her unique contribution to children’s literature.

Readers might be surprised to know that Linda Sue had to herself learn about Korean history before writing her stories. Having grown up in an immigrant family that emphasized English and Americanization, she started learning about Korean culture because she wanted to teach her children about their heritage. She was so intrigued that she started writing about it, and conducted meticulous research in preparation. Thanks to Linda Sue’s hard work and talent, one million Korean American children can see mirrors of their own lives and understand the history and culture of their parents and grandparents, while millions more have opportunities to learn about a culture and history other than their own. As a child, I may have never seen a Korean person in literature, but my daughter’s generation will see many reflections of our culture, thanks to writers such as Linda Sue Park, An Na, Paula Yoo, David Yoo, Derek Kirk Kim, and Marie Lee.

I’d like to end my introduction with a story: A few years ago I was at the HarperCollins breakfast at ALA, and across from me sat Kadir Nelson and 2 women. Of course I kept sneaking looks because there sat Kadir Nelson, and I was surprised that the ladies were whispering and looking back at me. At the end of the breakfast, the ladies came over and gushed about how much they loved my books. I was surprised and confused because the book I co-edited with Jamie Naidoo hadn’t come out yet. They kept showering me with compliments, and a few minutes into it one of the ladies looked down at my nametag and said, “Oh, Sarah Park. We thought you were Linda Sue Park!”

Friends, colleagues, and readers of all ages, please help me welcome our 2014 Kerlan Award winner, the real Linda Sue Park.



2013 Library Materials for Young Adults Reading List

LIS 7220 Library Materials for Young Adults
Instructor Dr. Sarah Park
2013 Spring
St. Catherine University
MLIS Program


  • Chance, Rosemary. (2008).  Young Adult Literature in Action: A Librarian’s Guide
  •  McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art

Books (Listen to at least one of the books on audio and read at least one as an e-book)

  • Alexie, Sherman.  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
  • Anderson, MT. Feed
  • Anderson, Laurie Halse. Wintergirls
  • Anonymous. Go Ask Alice
  • Asher, Jay. Thirteen Reasons Why
  • Card, Orson Scott. Ender’s Game
  • Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street
  • Cline, Ernest. Ready Player One
  • Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games
  • Conley, Erin Elizabeth.  Uncool: A Girl’s Guide to Misifitting In
  • Cormier, Robert. The Chocolate War
  • Daly, Maureen. Seventeenth Summer
  • Dessen, Sarah. Dreamland
  • Franco, Betsy. Falling Hard: 100 Love Poems by Teenagers
  • Garden, Nancy. Annie On My Mind
  • Han, Jenny. The Summer I Turned Pretty
  • Hinton, S.E. The Outsiders
  • Jackson, Kim and Heewon Lee. Here: A Visual History of Adopted Koreans in Minnesota
  • Johnson, Angela. The First Part Last
  • Johnson, Mat. Incognegro
  • Kick, Russ (ed). Choose one graphic novel from The Graphic Canon, Volume 1 and read the original version, then the graphic novel version.
  • Levithan, David. Boy Meets Boy
  • Levithan, David. Every Day
  • Link, Kelly (ed.). Steampunk!
  • Meyer, Stephenie. Twilight
  • Miéville, China. Un Lun Dun
  • Na, An. A Step from Heaven
  • Portman, Frank. King Dork
  • Rosoff, Meg. How I Live Now
  • Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye
  • Sam the Storyteller. The Dead Isle. (self-published)
  • Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
  • Schneider, Robyn. The Social Climber’s Guide to High School
  • Sivertsen, Linda and Tosh Sivertsen. Generation Green: The Ultimate Teen Guide to Living an Eco-Friendly Life
  • Takaki, Ron. (adapted by Rebecca Stefoff). A Different Mirror For Young People: A History of Multicultural America
  • Woodson, Jacqueline. Peace, Locomotion
  • Wright, Bil. Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy
  • Yang, Gene Luen.  American Born Chinese
  • Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief


  • The Hunger Games
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Recommended Readings

  • Braun, Linda W., Hillias J. Martin, and Connie Urquhart. (2010). Risky Business: Taking and Managing Risks in Library Services for Teens. Chicago: American Library Association.
  • Brenner, Robin E. (2007). Understanding Manga and Anime. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.
  • Cart, Michael. (1996). From Romance to Realism: 50 Years of Growth and Change in Young Adult Literature. New York: Harper Collins.
  • Cart, Michael and Christine A. Jenkins. (2006). The Heart Has its Reasons: Young Adult Literature with Gay/Lesbian/Queer Content, 1969-2004. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.
  • Chambers, Aidan. (1985). Booktalk: Occasional Writing on Literature and Children. New York: Harper & Row.
  • Flowers, Sarah. (2011). Young Adults Deserve the Best: YALSA’s Competencies in Action. Chicago: American Library Association.
  • Goodstein, Anastasia. (2007). Totally Wired: What Teens and Tweens are Really Doing Online. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin.
  • Harris, Frances Jacobson. (2005). I Found It on the Internet. Chicago: American Library Association.
  • Hine, Thomas. (1999). The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager: A New History of the American Adolescent Experience. New York: Perennial.
  • Horning, Kathleen T. (2010). From Cover to Cover: Evaluating and Reviewing Children’s Books. New York: Collins.
  • Ross, Catherine Sheldrick, Lynne McKechnie, and Paulette M. Rothbauer. (2006). Reading Matters: What the Research Reveals about Reading, Libraries, and Community. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.
  • Wolk, Douglas. (2007). Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.

 Happy reading 🙂