Monday, January 13, 2020

Changes ahead at American Indians in Children's Literature

Changes Ahead at American Indians in Children's Literature
Debbie Reese

When I launched American Indians in Children's Literature in 2006, it was my effort to make my research and thinking available to people who don't have access to professional or academic journals. Among my first posts are two about Lois Duncan's Season of the Two Heart. As I look back at it, I see that I did not use "recommended" or "not recommended" in the title of the post. In recent years, we have been adding our recommendation as part of the title of a post. Sometimes, a friend or colleague wrote something for AICL. I'd publish their post and include their name in the title of the post.

In 2016, Jean Mendoza became co-owner of AICL. Late last year, I realized that the only way that readers could tell who had posted an item was by looking at the tiny auto-generated note at the bottom of a post. Because those letters are so tiny, people were crediting me for work Jean did. That is not acceptable. So, as we move into 2020, we are making some changes!

Signed Headings

As you can see at the top of this post, its title (Changes Ahead...) and its Author (Debbie Reese) are in bold and centered. We'll do that for posts that are not book reviews.

Standardized Book Review Format

We are going to begin each book review with an image of the book cover, the book title, author, publisher... and we're adding "Reviewed by: ___" so that it is clear who is doing the review. Here's how that looks:

See the four asterisks at the bottom of that screen capture? Beneath the asterisks, we'll dive into our review. We've got different styles of writing. Some days our writing is formal. Sometimes it is more conversational. And sometimes I have a brief review that summarizes a series of tweets that I did as I read a book, followed by the tweets.

Our "Best Books" Lists

Over the years, we've had two kinds of year-end lists. I've done ones that are a compilation of Recommended and Not Recommended books in a given year. That allowed me to provide readers with a comprehensive list of every book I reviewed during that year. That included books published in that year, but it also included posts about older books.

In recent years, I switched to doing "Best Of (year)" lists that only included books published in that year. That is in keeping with what book review journals do each year but I find it limiting because older books don't get visibility that I want them to have. Jean and I are going to try out a few options to revamp the annual Best Book lists.

We look forward to figuring out a way to share a page of Best Books that includes books published in 2020, and ones we reviewed during 2020 that might have come out in 2015. And--we want to give visibility to problems in books we do not recommend, and in books we recommend with caution.

One more thing! We do more than book reviews at AICL. Sometimes we do essays about a topic or event of interest to us, personally or professionally. We want to be able to include links to some that we think readers should see.

We don't know what this will look like yet, but as the year progresses, we'll be working on it, behind the scenes. As always, we invite your feedback!


Alisha said...

Thank you for all that you share! It has been greatly beneficial to me as a person and as a homeschool mother.

La La in the Library said...

I would love it if you would consider making a Goodreads account for American Indians in Children's Literature. It is a hub for so many book bloggers for quick reference and links to page reviews. Thank you. 📚

Anonymous said...

This is great. I wonder if you could a reference page for your review criteria, to guide authors and others in the industry. You tend to review only American Indian content and author identity, not plot, tone, writing, characterization, pacing, age-appropriateness, etc. Can you make that explicit, and note what you are looking for to get a "recommended?" For example, should all children and YA books now that are set geographically in the USA or Canada refer to Native nations history on the geography, or expect a "not recommended?" It would be great to know. Thank you Debbie and Jean, and keep you the wonderful work.

Jessica F said...

Thank you Debbie and Jean for sharing your important work and insights! As a library professional and just as a person, I'm looking forward to another new year of thinking and learning from you.