Me, My Daughter, and The Babysitter’s Club
One of my favorite people in the world is Claudia Kishi. Maybe you’ve heard of her?She has a killer fashion sense.She’s super talented at art.And oh … she’s not exactly real.Claudia happens to be a character from The Babysitter’s Club series, which I devoured like Snickers bars when I was elementary school. (And I can eat a lot of Snickers bars!) But do you know what’s funny? I actually don’t have very much in common with Claudia. She has a real gift for art whereas I struggle to mix paint. She doesn’t like studying for school whereas I was that annoying kid who hyperventilated over getting a B in biology. But none of that mattered to my childhood self. What mattered to me was that I saw myself in Claudia.She was Asian-American.I was Asian-American.Here was a girl who looked like me! In a book that I loved!When I read my very first BSC novel, my nine-year-old mind was honestly blown. I had never come across an Asian-American character in a novel before. It felt as if Ann M. Martin had pointed a finger at my nose and said, “Hey, you! Yeah, you, I see you. And you matter.”Over twenty years later, I hope that my own book might have the same impact on a young reader. And maybe it’ll impact a biracial reader in particular because the main character of my novel THE ONLY THING TO FEAR is half-Japanese and half-Caucasian. I can’t seem to find very many children’s novels with biracial protagonists, which makes me sad because the multiracial population has increased 50 percent—that’s right, 50!—since the year 2000 in America. These children are craving to find faces like their own in the books that they read. They’re yearning to find their own Claudia’s.That’s one of the reasons why I created Zara St. James, the main character of my debut. She lives in a world very different from our own—one where the Nazis won WWII and colonized the United States—but she’s up against many of the same issues that multiracial people face in our society. For instance, Zara battles racism and bullying in her homogenous town in the Shenandoah valley because her face sticks out from the crowd. And she feels split between her two halves because she’s deemed not “white enough” or “Asian enough” to fit in with anyone else. She’s biracial and she has no problem with this fact, but some people make her feel like an outsider anyway. But Zara refuses to let these people get to her and, as the novel progresses, she’s ready to show everyone in her town and all of the Nazis in the US—even the Fuhrer himself—that she won’t be underestimated.It’s my humble hope that one day we won’t have to pore over the shelves at the bookstore and library to find books that feature diverse characters. I really want to read these books—and I want my biracial daughter to read them too. After all, doesn’t she deserve her own Claudia Kishi?I think so.And together, we’re going to find her.
Caroline Tung Richmond is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Baltimore Sun, Highlights for Children, and USAToday.com, among other publications. The Only Thing to Fear is her debut novel and will be published by Scholastic Press on 9/30/14. A self-proclaimed history nerd, Caroline lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband; their daughter; and the family dog Otto von Bismarck.
The Only Thing to Fear is available 9/30/14. Order it here.
When we “celebrate” banned books week, we strip the context of censorship from the equation. Books are the conduit for discussion, but they aren’t the purpose. Their being banned isn’t the celebration.
The celebration is intellectual freedom.
HP Goblet of Fire Headcanon: Beauxbatons was primarily a Muslim wizarding school.
(and yes I know the horses drink whisky, which is not exactly halal, sshhh)
I have exploded from the feels. This is a new headcanon. I can’t explain how much my heart swelled in brightness and happiness reading this.
Diversity 101: Gay in YA
Contributed to CBC Diversity by Adam Silvera
When writing diverse books, we’re writing about choices—and the things we can’t choose. Harry Potter could have chosen not to go to Hogwarts, but spending the rest of his youth with the incorrigible Dursleys would’ve sucked for all involved—Harry, the Dursleys, and the readers who became readers because of the boy wizard. Katniss Everdeen didn’t have to volunteer as tribute in The Hunger Games in place of Prim, but life in District 12 was bleak enough without watching someone act like her younger sister’s name wasn’t announced for a battle to the death. There are choices characters—and people—make because the alternative is simply unspeakable. But then there are the ones who don’t have a choice at all. They don’t choose to be Latino, they don’t choose mental illness, they don’t choose their sexual orientation. Who gives them a voice? I, along with many others, volunteer as tribute.
Wow I can’t believe that I hit 350 Followers for this blog! It’s a bit of a surreal feeling. I just want to say THANK YOU to everyone who has followed this blog from the beginning and to those who just started following!! I hope you find this tumblr interesting and if there is anything you’d like me to post about let me know!
I’m going to be hosting a giveaway once my self-hosted site goes online, so make sure to check for updates about it here!
Have a great weekend!!