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Authors Christopher Paul Curtis and Coe Booth at ALAN 2014
Photo by Noah Schaffer
ALAN Online News - February 2015

Culturally and racially diverse authors and illustrators are all around us, right? You can probably name a quite a few you've seen at ALAN Workshops. You've read the books and know the awards they've won. 

Diversity is something that's easy to take for granted when yours is not the voice being excluded from the conversation. 

Numbers don't lie. The article below about the We Need Diverse Books organization gives the sad statistics. With the non-White population of the US growing each year, it makes no sense that more diverse books are not available. 

The thing is, these diverse authors and illustrators probably are all around us. They just haven't been published. Or maybe they looked at the books around them and decided the odds were not in their favor, so they moved on to something else instead. Or maybe they saw so few books in which people like themselves appeared, it never occurred to them to write or create the story they needed the most, the one that was their own. 

What can we do? Continue promoting multicultural voices through ALAN's publications and the workshop, but also actively recruit a diverse group of candidates for leadership positions. Talk to publishers every chance we get and tell them why we need diverse books, but also why they need them too in order to reach young readers in the 21st century. Give kudos to groups like this year's Newbery committee whose picks showed the members had been listening to calls for diversity. Finally look around your classrooms and libraries and encourage the next generation of authors and illustrators. 

- Anne McLeod and Kacy Tedder, Editors
In This Issue
Chris Crutcher, ALAN Breakfast Speaker
Searching for ALAN's Next Executive Director
Call for Column Editors
Spotlight on an ALAN Member
Remembering Sarah Herz
We Need Diverse Books
ALA Youth Media Awards
Real Quick Picks
Missing your issue of TAR?
Please email membership secretary Karin Perry.

Guess Who's Coming to ALAN 2015?

If you recognize the young adult book titles  Deadline,  King of the FrontierStaying Fat for Sarah ByrnesThe Sledding Hill, and Ironman, to name a just few, then you know who will be the featured author at the ALAN 2015 breakfast.

Chris Crutcher, winner of the 1993 ALAN Award for outstanding contributions to the field of adolescent literature and ALA's Margaret Edwards Award in 2000 for his lifetime contribution in writing for teens, will kick off the ALAN 2015 workshop.  His books push boundaries, depicting the lives of teens experiencing hard times.  He has touched the lives of many young people through his ability to portray their ever-changing lives and problems.


Search Committee for ALAN's Next Executive Director
Teri Lesesne, aka Professor Nana/The YA Goddess, has served as Executive Director (formerly Executive Secretary) since 2010 and will complete her five-year term this November. While these are clearly  big shoes to fill, the Executive Committee is getting ready to initiate the search for the person who will do just that. 

The person in this position will serve as ALAN's liaison with NCTE and will be one of ALAN's representatives on NCTE's Board of Directors. Along with the president, past-president, and president-elect, the Executive Director serves on the Executive Committee, which makes decisions on the day-to-day operations of the organization. Some of the other duties include: serving on committees, sending out information to the proper committees or individuals, serves as our official fiscal agent of the assembly in legal and  tax matters. 

For a complete job description of the Executive Director position, click here

Interested in becoming ALAN's next Executive Director? Look for more information about the search process in the next newsletter. 

Are You ALAN? Tell the World, and Tell Us Too!
Send photos for ALAN Online News to Anne McLeod and Kacy Tedder .
Call for Column Editors for The ALAN Review

Dear ALAN Members,

We are excited to announce an open call for column editors for The ALAN Review. For  each of our three columns, a regular Column Editor partners with us for one year to write
and/or solicit contributions and support authors through the publication process. For this
round, columnists will serve from December 2015 to December 2016.

The column descriptions follow:

Book in Review: A Teaching Guide. To ensure that constituents across our organization
are provided access to high quality teaching materials, we maintain a theory into practice
review column that offers instructionally grounded ideas designed to increase the use of
young adult literature in classroom communities at many levels. Columns feature
reviews, teaching suggestions, and resources for 1-4 new, quality titles in each issue.

Layered Literacies. To draw upon the ever-increasing presence of Internet-based learning
opportunities in the lives of educators and their students, we maintain an online resources
column that exposes readers to a variety of materials that might prove useful in their
teaching of young adult literature. Columns might highlight the use of social networking
as a tool to foster sharing and conversation among classroom readers or the use of social
media (Twitter, blogging, Skype, etc.) to help educators rethink and build upon their
current practices.

Right to Read. To help readers better understand, prevent, and prepare for potential acts
of censorship in their classroom, school, and library communities, we maintain an anti-
censorship column. Columns create both opportunities for conversation surrounding the
motives of those who choose to deny young people access to texts and to provide
practical tools and suggestions to help ensure that materials remain readily available to
those who wish to read them.

You are invited to review past columns here

If you are interested in applying, please send your CV to and
complete the application form before February 15, 2015.

Most sincerely,

Wendy, Ricki, and Dani
The ALAN Review Editors

Spotlight on an ALAN Member: Myra Infante Sheridan

I currently teach at The University of Texas Pan American as a Lecturer in the Department of English.  I teach Rhetoric and Composition, Children's and Adolescent Literature, and Creative Writing for Young Audiences. Before this, I taught English at the high school level for five years. I actually started writing in order to become a better English teacher.  I wanted to sharpen my writing instruction skills and enrolled in an MFA in Creative Writing program.  Because I was teaching young adults by day, they naturally became my audience. My students influenced the dialogue some of characters use in my collection 
Combustible Sinners and Other Stories (VAO Publishing, 2012), and they even chose the book cover.

How have you incorporated YA literature into your practice?

When I began teaching, I used Mexican American YA literature to engage reluctant readers.  My students were amazed to find out that Mexican American authors existed who wrote about Mexican American teens. Seeing their culture validated in an academic setting helped my students feel like they had something of value to contribute during discussions about the texts. It opened the door to other learning.


At the university level, I teach a YA literature course to pre-service teachers, and one of the comments I see most often at the end of each semester is, "Because of this course, I've rediscovered my love of reading."  

Are there certain ideas you find yourself returning to again and again in your writing ? What are they? 

Yes, regardless of the story idea, I will connect it to a Mexican American setting and characters. The reason for this is not only because I love my culture, but because it's what I know.  I have completed a manuscript entitled The Aztlan Chronicles about a 16 year Mexican boy who embarks on an adventure to discover the mythical paradise of Aztlan.  I'm currently working on novel titled Inky Cloak, which is a retelling of the Hamlet story with a Mexican American female teen protagonist.  I like to describe it asHamlet meets Pretty Little Liars, set in South Texas amongst corrupt politicians and drug cartels.  That's the idea anyway, and I'm only about 8 chapters in so far. 


How did you come to to be a part of ALAN? 

I signed up to attend (and present during a session of) the NCTE National Convention for the first time, and decided to add another first by signing up for the ALAN workshop. 

What did you think of your first ALAN workshop this past November?
It was amazing! All I could think was, "I wish my high school teacher friends could be here too."  It was so motivating to meet the YA authors who also teach.


Remembering Sarah Herz
Teacher, Writer, and Longtime ALAN member

Truly a "force" in YA lit, Sarah K. Herz, 83, died of cancer on February 5 at her home in Westport, Connecticut. A dedicated educator, having taught both in middle school and high school, her work was so grounded in classroom practice that teachers related to her teaching voice and sought her out at conferences. 

Sarah loved libraries and librarians and connected with them and teachers through her work with Don Gallo with their important contribution to young adult literature scholarship, From Hinton to Hamlet: Building Bridges between Young Adult Literature and the Classics. An active ALAN member, she served on the Board of Directors, the Election Committee, the ALAN Award Committee, and as book reviewer and manuscript reviewer for TAR. 

Through all of her work and her donation of thousands of books to students through the Bridgeport schools, Sarah's influence will continue for a very long time.

- Contributed by friends of Sarah Herz
We Need Diverse Books Campaign
New Organization Becomes Powerful Voice for Change

Last April, young adult authors Ellen Oh (Prophecy series) and Malinda Lo (Ash, Huntress, and Adaptation) spoke out on Twitter about the longstanding lack of diversity in books for children and young people. 

Fifty years after the publication of Nancy Larrick's classic  article "The All-White World of Children's Books," that literary world still did not even come close to reflecting its increasingly diverse audience. The remarkable careers of individual writers and illustrators remained just that, individual achievements that had little impact on the numbers of diverse books published. According to the Cooperative Children's Book Center, which tracks publishing trends, just over 10% of books published in the first six months of 2013 included multicultural characters. Walter Dean Myers in a New York Times op-ed noted that when 40% of public school students in the United States are Latino or Black, "the disparity of representation is even more egregious."

These conversations in social and traditional media resulted in Ellen Oh and Malinda Lo, along with other writers and children's book advocates, creating #WeNeedDiverseBooks, a group that would take action and help organize responses to instances in which non-White, non-mainstream voices were neglected or ignored. The results: The WNDB in the Classroom initiative that makes possible author and illustrator school visits in Washington, DC schools; a planned Children's Literature Diversity Festival in for 2016; and a short story contest in which an unpublished author's work will appear alongside that of
Kwame Alexander, Sherman Alexie, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Pena, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Rachel Renee Russell, and Jacqueline Woodson.

Another exciting WNDB initiative is the creation of the Walter Dean Myers Award and grants for diverse young adult literature beginning in 2015. This award will recognize "books that best exemplify Myers's commitment to providing children with powerful mirrors and windows." The grants will provide financial support to unpublished diverse authors and illustrators to assist them as they work toward publication.

Since its creation less than a year ago, WNDB has become an important voice for change in children's publishing. Look for them at conferences, exhibit booths, and schools. They'll be there changing the world, one book at a time. 

- Anne McLeod
American Library Association Announces 2015 Youth Media Award Winners

On Monday, February 2, 2015 the American Library Association announced the youth media award winners for this year's.  Recognized worldwide by librarians, teachers, educators, parents and many others, these award-winning books have been designated as having the most impact on youth.  In case you missed all of the excitement buzzing around the young adult literary world, here is a recap:

John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature:

The Crossover by  Kwame Alexander

Coretta Scott King Award for an African American author for outstanding children's book:

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Coretta Scott King/ John Steptoe New Talent Award:  

When I Was the Greatest by  Jason Reynolds

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature for young adults:

I'll Give You the Sun by  Jandy Nelson

Schneider Family Book Award for best literature representing youth with disabilities:

Rain Reign by  Ann M. Martin (for middle school readers, ages 11-13)

Girls Like Us by  Gail Giles (for young adult readers, ages 13-18)

Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults:

Sharon M. Draper

2016 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award for person of children's literary merit who presents a lecture at an award-winning site:

Pat Mora

Pura Bulpre' Author Award for Latino authors who celebrate the Latino cultural experience through literary works:

I Live on Butterfly Hill, by  Marjorie Agos�n

One Belpr Author Honor Book was named:

Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes by Juan Felipe Herrera (YA Honor book)


Stonewall Book Award-Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children's & Young Adult Literature Award for LGBT literary work:

This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman, Ph.D.

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin (YA Honor Book)

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (YA Honor Book)


William C. Morris Award for debut book for first-time author for teen writing:

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by  Isabel Quintero

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults:

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen


For a complete list of all awards given this year, please visit the
 American Library Association's website: 
ALAN Real Quick Picks 

This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki  (First Second Books, 2014)
This One Summer is perfect for a great anytime read, as it is a great YA graphic novel and a coming of age story of two pre-teen girls, Rose and Windy.  Both girls are only children, so they bond with each other while their families spend summers at the lake.  In addition to the normal challenges that come with being early adolescents, Rose's parents are going through a "rough patch" in their marriage.  Also, Rose and Windy become indirectly involved with relationship issues of older teenagers in the neighborhood.  
 - Margaret Robbins


All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (Random House, 2015)

This gut-wrenching novel is written from the perspective of two broken teens, one who has symptoms of bipolar disorder and the other who is the sole-survivor of a car accident.  When they meet each other on the bell tower they are about to jump from,  they both begin to heal.  Niven's protagonists exhibit more than "teen angst" and their stories are tragic and true-to-life.  Recommended for grades 9-12. 

- Lindy  Weaver

Calls for Papers and Proposals 


The ALAN Review

Fall 2015  Beyond Borders: Partnering Within and Across Schools and Communities

Submissions due March 1, 2015

In this issue, we encourage you to share collaborative efforts involving students, colleagues, and communities in creating spaces for YA literature to flourish.  How have you generated ideas and implemented projects in the same building, in the building next door, or in settings across the globe, in person or virtually?  How have you designed interdisciplinary curricula with those who study or teach subjects outside your areas of expertise?  How have you looked beyond your own walls to foster partnerships with community outreach programs, created shared reading opportunities across neighborhoods and towns, worked with parents and guardians to acquire their wisdom, or invited young people to identify, explore, and propose potential solutions to problems they see in their communities?  Regardless of the form these efforts take, and the complications and complexities they present, we are convinced that, "If you let people into your life a little bit, they can be pretty damn amazing" (Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian). As always, we also welcome submissions focused on any aspect of young adult literature not directly connected to this theme.  All submissions may be sent to prior to March 1, 2015.  Please see the ALAN website for submission guidelines.


The ALAN Review

Winter 2016  Adolescence and Adolescents: Defining the Culture of Youth 

Submissions due July 1, 2015

In this issue, we invite you to consider how young adult titles (and those who write, teach, and promote them) might offer, challenge, confirm, or critique conceptions of adolescents or adolescence.  How do authors present the young people they describe? How do readers respond to these representations? How do educators envision the young people in their care-and how does this vision influence how they care for them? How might stories help readers navigate adolescence (as defined through any lens) and work though the complexity expressed by David Levithan and John Green: "My face seems too square and my eyes too big, like I'm perpetually surprised, but there's nothing wrong with me that I can fix" (Will Grayson, Will Grayson)? As always, we also welcome submissions focused on any aspect of young adult literature not directly connected to this theme.  Click here for more information. All submissions may be sent to prior to July 1, 2015.  Please see the ALAN website for submission guidelines.

ALAN Online News

Items needed for this newsletter: ALAN organizational news items, YA Links in the News, The Book That Changed My Life, Real Quick Picks, candidates for Spotlight on an ALAN Member, feature articles about programs in your area that promote teen reading or young adult literature. If you attended the ALAN Workshop, please submit reflections or informational items. Photographs are welcome as well. Send to Anne McLeod or Kacy Tedder. Deadline for next newsletter is March 20, 2015.  

Peter Lang Publishing
Call for Book Length Manuscripts and Proposals
Focus: Young Adult and Adolescent Literature
Under the editorial guidance of series editor, Dr. Nancy St. Clair, Peter Lang Publishing, an international academic publisher, is pleased to invite submission of book length manuscripts and book proposals, inclusive of edited collections, for its book series: Between Two Worlds: Adolescent Texts and the Literary Abyss. The series represents a growing group of important books on the genre, culture and theories of young adult literatures. The series is inclusive and open to a wide variety of approaches. We welcome scholarly literary studies and interdisciplinary studies from the perspectives of genre, theme, gender, censorship and religion, representations of adolescence and adulthood, and approaches to interpretation. Particular interest includes new approaches to adult expectations, broadening perspectives, peer relationships, disillusionment and alienation, coping with family dynamics, emergent voices, and overcoming obstacles. Click here for more information and email Michelle Salyga if you have additional questions. 

ALAN Marketplace 2013  

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