Monday, January 18, 2016

Some Links to the Ongoing Conversation about Scholastic's Decision to Stop Distribution of A Birthday Cake for George Washington

(These links are by no means exhaustive, but each of them is worth reading, so I wanted to share. Thanks to Becca, Malinda, Sarah, Sarah, Anne, Nancy, and all my friends who keep me in the loop!)

Here's a link to the announcement at Scholastic. An excerpt: "Scholastic is announcing today that we are stopping the distribution of the book entitled A Birthday Cake for George Washington, by Ramin Ganeshram and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, and will accept all returns. While we have great respect for the integrity and scholarship of the author, illustrator, and editor, we believe that, without more historical background on the evils of slavery than this book for younger children can provide, the book may give a false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves and therefore should be withdrawn."

Here's a perspective from Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, whose research at the University of Pennsylvania includes representations of slavery in children's literature: Children's Literature About Slavery: The Struggle Continues.

Here's Paula Young Lee's perspective at Salon: Smiling slaves at story time: These picture books show why we need more diversity in publishing, too.

Here's Zetta Elliott in the Horn Book: The Writer's Page: Decolonizing the Imagination. (Clarification: this essay was published in 2010. It was not written in response to the recent conversations [unless Elliott is a time traveler, like some of her characters ^_^].)

And here are the thoughts of the book's editor, Andrea Davis Pinkney, who, in addition to being a VP and executive editor at Scholastic, is an African American woman and a Coretta Scott King Award-winner: A Proud Slice of History.

At 5:24 PM edited to add (thanks, Laya):

From Mitali Perkins' blog: WARNING: This Book Might Be Recalled. Read it Fast. Decry it Even Faster.

On Jan 24 edited to add (thanks, Becca):

Michael Twitty, who works at the intersection of cooking, American history, and slavery in the USA, shared his thoughts at The Guardian: What happens when children's books fail to confront the complexity of slavery?