July 19, 2006

Blog Against Racism Week

At E.Lockhart's blog I read that it's International Blog Against Racism Week, and though I'm late, I wanted to participate. Writers -- especially writers of YA and Children's Lit have to be really aware of the world that they live in, a world in which racism seems to be here to stay. It's the world our readers live in, and so it's relevant. There are many excellent historical novels that deal with racism in a certain time or place... Trudy Krishner's Spite Fences, Christopher Paul Curtis' The Watsons Go To Birmingham, Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and the other books in that trilogy by Mildred D. Taylor, Karen Hesse's marvelous Witness, or many novels by Yoshika Uchida or Lawrence Yep come to mind) but I find the discussion of race as portrayed in modern fiction more engrossing. The reader isn't expecting something as obvious as a white sheet, an interment camp, kristallnacht or burning crosses.

My favorite middle grade/YA books that deal with racism in a more modern world are, in order of no particular relevance:

The Moves Make the Man by Bruce Brooks, which is a fabulous mystery as well as a story about friends and their differences -- and similarities.

*Iggie's House by Judy Blume. This story still has such power to make me cry, even though I have read it over and over again.

* The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson. Gilly learning to love people she thought previously were unlovable -- herself included -- make this a seriously tremendous book, and the language is really spot on. All of it.

Marie G. Lee's If It Hadn't Been for Yoon Jun, and Finding My Voice, are brilliant and painful to read, allowing us to see what reverse racism does to a person -- hating yourself and who you are for what you are in opposition to the dominant culture in your school.

Chris Crutcher's Whale Talk is my almost-favorite Crutcher novel... Definitely a tough novel; you cry, and you laugh, and you cry again as you do in all Crutcher novels, and though the story is dark, the glimmers of light throughout make the tears well worth it.

...doubtless there are MANY more novels, but these are just a few off the top of my head. Feel free to add to my list! And don't forget to join in the discussion. Follow the directions at E.Lockhart's and then link your blog here.


MotherReader said...

I love "The Liberation of Gabriel King" for portraying the racism as a current - major current - of a story that is also about being brave and being friends. It's a great book.

TadMack said...

I haven't yet read that one -- I'll definitely check it out. There is also a novel about the L.A. riots that I was remembering, but I can't for the life of me produce the title from my overheated brain...