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

2015 LIS7190 Social Justice and Children’s/YA Literature list

(NOTE: The syllabus is heavy on black children’s and YA literature because I revised the course in light of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and so we could use the concepts learned and discussed through those texts as examples for discussions of related issues in youth lit and social justice. I am fully aware that my reading list is not representative of all social justice issues, but what I hope is that by discussing a narrow segment, my students and I can learn to think broadly in terms of ideology, positionality, authorship, power, privilege, etc as they relate to about social justice and children’s literature.)

LIS 7190 Social Justice and Children’s/YA Literature
Instructor Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen
2015 Summer
St. Catherine University
Master of Library and Information Science Program

Course Description

In this course, students will learn how to select, evaluate and analyze depictions and aspects of social justice and injustice in children’s and young adult literature. We will consider topics such as power, racism, diversity, violence, perspective, publishing trends, authorship, illustrations, and ideology. We will also consider how these texts may be used in library programming. 

By successfully finishing this course, students will be able to select, evaluate, and recommend a variety of materials depicting social justice issues for young audiences.

Required Readings (assigned by me)

  • A Wreath for Emmitt Till by Marilyn Nelson
  • After Tupac & D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Eighth-Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
  • Monster by Walter Dean Myers
  • A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott
  • Bridge by Patrick Jones
  • Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez
  • Ask Me No Questions by Marina Budhos
  • No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Works of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
  • If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth
  • Rain is Not My Indian Name by Cynthia Leitich Smith
  • The Real Boy by Anne Ursu 
  • El Deafo by CeCe Bell
  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson 
  • Call me Tree/Llámame árbol by Maya Christina Gonzalez
  • Star of the Week by Darlene Friedman
  • The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy

Additional Required Readings (assigned by students – the Unsyllabus portion)

  • Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
  • The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter
  • Boys Without Names by Kashmira Sheth
  • Brooklyn Burning by Steve Brezenoff
  • The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
  • The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak


  • Text presentation
  • Book talk and flyer
  • Unsyllabus presentation
  • Book discussion group
  • Reflection paper

First Week’s Readings 

WEEK 1 | June 2 Tuesday | #WeNeedDiverseBooks


  • Larrick, Nancy. (1965). “The All White World of Children’s Literature.” Saturday Review, 63-65. 
  • Horning, Kathleen T. (2014 May 1). “Children’s Books: Still an All-White World?” School Library Journal.
  • Derman-Sparks, Louise. (2013) “An Updated Guide for Selecting Anti-Bias Children’s Books.” Teaching for Change.
  • Diversity in Youth Literature. Editors’ Introduction “Open Books, Open Doors: Cultural Diversity On and Off the Page” (Jamie Campbell Naidoo and Sarah Park Dahlen)
  • Diversity in Youth Literature. Chapter 1 “Voices of Experience: Promoting Acceptance of Other Cultures” (Carol Doll and Kasey Garrison)
  • Diversity in Youth Literature. Chapter 2 “Opening Doors to Understanding: Developing Cultural Competence through Youth Literature” (Eliza Dresang) 

Youth Literature

  • A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson

WEEK 1 | June 4 Thursday | Occupy Children’s Literature


Youth Literature

  • After Tupac & D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson

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 🙂 

2012 Social Justice in Children’s/YA Reading List

LIS 7963 (40296) Social Justice and Children’s/YA Literature
SYLLABUS | 2012 Summer | MLIS Program | St. Catherine University

Catalog Description

In this course, students will learn how to select, evaluate and analyze depictions and aspects of social justice and injustice in children’s and young adult literature. We will consider topics such as power, racism, diversity, violence, perspective, publishing trends, authorship, illustrations, and ideology. We will also consider how these texts may be used in library programming.

Reading List

  • Ballard, Robert L. Pieces of Me: Who Do I Want to Be? Voices for and by Adopted Teens
  • Barakat, Ibtisam. Tasting the Sky
  • Bausam, Ann. Denied, Detained, Deported
  • Boyne, John. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
  • Brannen, Sarah S. Uncle Bobby’s Wedding
  • Cali, Davide and Serge Bloch. The Enemy
  • Campbell, Nicola A. Shi-Shi-Etko
  • Cha, Dia. Dia’s Story Cloth
  • Choi, Yangsook. The Name Jar
  • Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games
  • Cottin, Menana. The Black Book of Colors
  • Curtis, Christopher Paul. Elijah of Buxton
  • de la Peña, Matt. Mexican White Boy
  • Edwardson, D.D. My Name is not Easy
  • Elliott, Zetta. A Wish After Midnight
  • Ellis, Deborah. Off to War: Voices of Soldier’s Children
  • Fradin, Dennis Brindell and Judith Bloom Fradin. Jane Addams: Champion of Democracy
  • Hoose, Phillip M. Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice
  • Lowry, Lois. The Giver
  • Mickenberg, Julia M and Philip Nel (eds). Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children’s Literature
  • Mochizuki, Ken. Baseball Saved Us
  • Myers, Walter Dean. Monster
  • Naidoo, Beverly. Burn My Heart
  • Nivola, Claire A. Planting the Trees of Kenya
  • Park, Linda Sue. When My Name Was Keoko
  • Perkins, Mitali. First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover
  • Rhuday-Perkovich, Olugbemisola. Eighth-Grade Superzero
  • Russell, Ching Yeung. Tofu Quilt
  • Sanchez, Alex. Rainbow Boys
  • Senzai, N.H. Shooting Kabul
  • Stork, Francisco X. Marcelo in the Real World
  • Weatherford, Carole Boston. Moses
  • Williams, Karen Lynn. My Name Is Sangoel
  • Wilson, Janet. One Peace: True Stories of Young Activists
  • Yep, Laurence. The Traitor


Required Readings

Mickenberg, Julia M. and Philip Nel, eds. (2008). Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children’s Literature. New York University.

Optional Readings

Nodelman, Perry and Mavis Reimer. The Pleasures of Children’s Literature, 2nd Edition.
Cart, Michael. From Romance to Realism.


WEEK 1 | Mon June 4 | Introduction

  • Tales for Little Rebels, Forward, Acknowledgments, Introduction and Part I: “R is for Rebel”
  • Nodelman, Perry. “The Other: Orientalism, Colonialism, and Children’s Literature.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 17.1, 1992.
  • Larrick, Nancy. “The All-White World of Children’s Books.” Saturday Review, Sep. 11, 1965.
  • Derman-Sparks, Louise. “10 Quick Ways to Analyze Children’s Books for Racism and Sexism.” From Anti-Bias Curriculum: Tools for Empowering Young Children. Washington, DC: NAEYC, 1980. [Google search for the PDF from UNCC]

Youth Literature

  • Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games
  • Wilson, Janet. One Peace: True Stories of Young Activists
  • Bring to class a children’s or YA book that you think speaks to a social justice issue. Be prepared to explain.

WEEK 1 | Wed June 6 | Slavery, Colonizing the Body & Publishing

Youth Literature

  • Weatherford, Carole Boston. Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom
  • Elliott, Zetta. A Wish After Midnight
  • Curtis, Christopher Paul. Elijah of Buxton

Dr. Christine Jenkins at St. Kate’s

ON BEYOND STONEWALL: Young Adult Literature with LGBTQ Content

Throughout its history young adult literature has offered too little representation of diversity in terms of its characters, setting, plot, and other narrative elements. The U.S. population has become more diverse by the day, yet white, middle-class, suburban-dwelling heterosexuals have continued to dominate all genres of YA literature. In her germinal work Shadow and Substance (NCTE) Rudine Sims Bishop was among the first to document the changing representations of African American characters in literature for youth. Since then – thanks in large part to the appearance of the ‘new realism’ in young adult fiction in the late 1960’s — other non-mainstream groups have slowly begun to appear in YA fiction.

The first young adult novel with LGBT content was published in 1969, the same year that the Stonewall riots marked the birth of the gay liberation movement. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) people have come a long way since 1969, but depictions of LGBTQ people in literature for teen readers have moved at a glacial pace, going from invisibility to stereotypes to (finally) realistic characters portrayed with some degree of frequency, authenticity, and art.

Jenkins’ presentation will trace the roots of the literature, describe early work in the newly realistic world of 1960’s -‘70’s literature and examine the genre’s evolution through the 1980’s and ‘90’s. She will describe broad themes in this literature and highlight some milestone works and exemplars (both positive and negative) among individual titles published during this period.

During her presentation, Dr. Jenkins will

  • trace the roots of the literature
  • describe early work in the newly realistic world of 1960’s -‘70’s literature
  • examine the genre’s evolution through the 1980’s and ‘90’s
  • describe broad themes in this literature
  • highlight milestone works and exemplars (both positive and negative).

Q&A and reception to follow.

Highlights & Handouts

  • YALSA brochures and posters
  • LGBTQ book display
  • YA reading lists
  • Networking opportunities

 Dr. Christine Jenkins is an associate professor at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research includes:

  • YA literature with LGBTQ content
  • Representations of the “other” in YA literature
  • Censorship and intellectual freedom

October 3, 2011 • 6.30-8.00 PM
St. Catherine University Recital Hall

2004 Randolph Ave., St. Paul, MN 55105
(#24 on the campus map • enter gate #3 • parking free after 5p)

Contact Dr. Sarah Park | spark@stkate.edu | 651.690.8791

Download the official SCU YALSA flyer

The event is free and open to the public.