Friday, July 31, 2009

The August Multicultural Book Spotlight on YAF

There's a cool challenge going on @ Read Into This!

With the cover controversy that's been happening with Justine Larbalestier's Liar, multicultural books have taken the spotlight. It's sad that this issue has to come about for multicultural books to receive extra notice. A couple of weeks ago there was an excellent post on books of color on Chasing Ray, and the lack of MC books published.

So it's time to shine some more positive light! Here's RIT's challenge:

This is a 30-day challenge that ends on August 30th. [...] I've compiled a list of some multicultural books that I have either read, plan to read, or were recommended to me. If you have any other suggestions, make a comment and I will take a look and add it to the list. :)

- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
- American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
- Bang! by Sharon Flake
- Broken China by Lori Aurelia Williams
- Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
- Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah
- Down to the Bone by Mayra Lazara Dole
- First Daughter: An Extreme American Makeover by Mitali Perkins
- First Part Last by Angela Johnson
- Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart
- Graffiti Girl by Kelly Parra
- Hush by Jacqueline Woodson
- If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko
- The Kayla Chronicles by Sherri Winston
- My Life as a Rhombus by Varian Johnson
- Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
- Played by Dana Davidson
- Romiette and Julio by Sharon M. Draper
- Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins
- The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
- Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger
- Sold by Patricia McCormick
- What I Meant... by Marie Lamba

Here is another great compiled list of suggested MC books that readers may want to check out.

Now for YA Fresh's spin on the challenge... I'm going to participate too, but I can't read all of these books in one month. What I can do is post quick spotlights all through August on MC books. On some days there will be double posts because we'll have other YAF posts to share. Sounds like a big challenge even for me! haha. :) But I know it will be fun!

Happy reading!

10 fresh comments:

Diana Rodriguez Wallach said...

Hey Kelly! Great list! I hope you'll consider my books, "Amor and Summer Secrets" features a half-Puerto Rican/half Polish teen.

Love the challenge. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I have only read a couple of books on the list, though I think I know enough about the plots of a few others to have a basic gist. I was just curious what exactly your definition of "multicultural" books is. For me, when I try to write "multiculuturally" (though it's not really a conscious effort, given that that's just the way I've grown up), it means including lots of characters coexisting, and while having non-white protagonists is an important aspect of literature that doesn't happen enough, that doesn't really mean "multicultural" to me. If a book only has Hispanic characters, to me it's no more "multicultural" than a book that has all white characters; it's just a bit more interesting to me because it's closer to my life. So what exactly for you defines "multicultural?"

Kelly Parra said...

Thanks, Diana, suggestions are always welcome!

Kelly Parra said...


I will try my best to give you some insight, but not an official definition. MC books are not just books that have characters who are not caucasian. And I love books with characters that have a rainbow of skin colors, no matter the plot of the books. We are a diverse world, we should have diverse characters in our stories too.

What I've learned about MC fiction is that the main character is of a cultural descent and has an internal conflict that deals with the protag's culture that is weaved throughout the novel.

For example, Angel in Graffiti Girl wants to express her Latino culture through her art and at the same time feels her art is not good enough to be a true artist. She discovers answers for both of these conflicts through graffiti.

You might ask yourself what problem is your character dealing with regarding his/her culture?

To me that is a MC novel. :)

TinaFerraro said...

This is a wonderful idea, Kelly, and I will be checking in daily to see what's new. (Okay, I check in daily, anyway, but you get my point. Haha)

Amber J said...

One of the best multicultural YAs I've read is David Yoo's "Stop Me If You've Heard This One Already". While it isn't about the main character struggling to accept his Korean heritage, his heritage is very much woven into the story. Great novel.

Kelly Parra said...

Thank you for suggesting the book, Amber!

Anonymous said...


I would avoid saying "cultural descent," since "culture" embodies everything, even Caucasian ones. It's kind of like how the fashion and music industries are fond of referring to something as "ethnic" when usually they mean animal print or drum beats. Though obviously I know what you meant by that.

Your definition works, though I am still not sure that it's perfect. My issue is mostly that there is a need to define these books at all, though. I appreciate the spotlight you're doing, though, because hopefully by doing things like this more often, the need to designate certain books as "multicultural" will dissipate, and all books will just be books, regardless of whether their characters deal with a certain "cultural" problem.

Kelly Parra said...

I would avoid saying "cultural descent," since "culture" embodies everything, even Caucasian ones.


My husband has white skin, but he is Italian and Irish. So even multicultural books can be with characters with light skin, who deal with issues with their culture. To me it is not about the skin color.

To me MC books deal with cultural issues with any culture.

As I said, I'm trying my best to give my interpretation and anyone can disagree.

Yes, wishing there are no labels on books is a dream and a different topic. :)

Thanks for the thoughtful discussion!

sansan riswana said...
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