The author issued a letter of apology via his YouTube channel, acknowledging that his use of stereotypes when it came to the character of Master Wong, kung fu, and Chinese philosophy amounted to “passive racism.” In his apology, Pilkey stated that he had “intended to showcase diversity, equality and nonviolent conflict resolution” with the book, but he had fallen short of these goals.
Racial stereotypes and passive racism are harmful to all children because it perpetuates the narrative that this is normal for people to be treated this way. It is important for all children to see people of color represented accurately, without racist misinformation, because it fosters positive self-image and reduces the chance that children will internalize harmful stereotypes.
Scholastic has vowed that they will publish books that represent a diverse society, and the library will continue its journey to learn about the importance of inclusive collections.
While many of us associate scary stories with October and cool weather, I think it’s great fun to read scary stories in the spring, especially when there’s a thunderstorm rolling in.
I’d like to recommend two scary books I enjoyed recently, and both of them just happened to be written by Asian American authors.
First is The Girl and the Ghost by Hana Alkaf. This ghost story is inspired by Malaysian folklore. I love folk and fairy tales, so I was excited about a story inspired by Malaysian folk traditions.
When Suraya is very young, a type of ghost called a pelesit comes to her, and says he is a gift from her grandmother. Suraya, who is very lonely, just sees him as a friend. But as she gets older, their relationship begins to change, and other ghosts from her past begin to emerge.
I loved this book. It’s very scary! It is also a beautiful story about family and friendship. I read it all in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down! After you read the book, I recommend reading this interview with Hana Alkaf to learn more about her and the book!
The second book is Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh. In this book, Harper Raine is struggling after her family moves to a new house in a new town, especially since an accident she had at her old school was the reason she had to move. In her new house, strange things start happening, especially with her little brother, who seems to be talking to someone that no one else can see.
Like The Girl and the Ghost, Spirit Hunters is scary while also being a great story about family secrets and the strength of friendship.
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Cenus.gov has lots of information about the history of this monthlong celebration: “In 1978, a joint congressional resolution established Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. The first 10 days of May were chosen to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869.
In 1992, Congress expanded the observance to a monthlong celebration that is now known as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Per a 1997 U.S. Office of Management and Budget directive, the Asian or Pacific Islander racial category was separated into two categories: one being Asian and the other Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. Thus, this Facts for Features contains a section for each.”
The Voice of Liberty, by Angelica Shirley Carpenter
There was a grand celebration when the Statue of Liberty was presented to the United States of America. It was a gift from the people of France. This enormous statue of a woman holding a torch was an icon of freedom, and was a symbol of welcome to immigrants arriving by sea, as it is to this day.
But not all of the citizens believed they were free. Some of the community were troubled enough to say they wanted a real change. The women of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association noticed that they were not even allowed to vote in an election. “How can a statue of a woman represent liberty when women have no freedom in this country?” They wanted women to have the liberty to vote and have their own voice in government. See what these courageous ladies decided to do to get some attention and help to make some positive long-lasting changes. Check the facts about this statue and a history timeline of voting rights which is included in this book.
Learn more about the book and its author by watching this in-depth interview.
This book could be paired with The Big Day, by Terry Caruthers, about the exciting first day women of color could vote in Knoxville, Tennesee. You can hear the author read some of the book here.
Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Cozbi Cabrera
J B BROOKS, G.
Discover the life and legacy of this famous Chicagoan in a biography that is beautiful to read and look at.
Gwendolyn Brooks grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a family that didn’t have much money, but was rich in love and books. Hearing her father read poems made her want to write her own poetry, and her parents truly believed in her dream to become a great poet. Her first poems were published when she was only 11, but writing poetry didn’t help her make friends or pay bills once she became an adult. But still she wrote and wrote, and before long, she won the greatest prize in poetry, the Pulitzer Prize! Her poems were about her life on the South Side of Chicago, and about the inequalities she and her neighbors faced because they were Black.
I loved learning about Gwendolyn’s life in this quick, award winning read with gorgeous illustrations. I bet you will too!