I've been focusing on my trip to Ukraine in this blog,
but today I'd like to meander a bit. I've got some
exciting news to share. I'm going to the TLA
in Dallas, Texas in April to speak on a panel discussing
'cultural diversity in children's literature.' I've just
finished booking hotel rooms, so that makes it feel official.
Now I can start worrying about what in the world
I have to share about 'cultural diversity in children's
literature.' But then I realize that The Kulak's Daughter
is the book I never got to read when I was a child.
When I was in school I was ashamed of my immigrant
background. I was ashamed of my parents and their
foreignness. They could barely speak English. I couldn't speak
any English, either, when I started kindergarten. And it wasn't
just language - it was a clash of cultures. My reading
in the school system was about "Dick and Jane" not
about characters like my "Olga." (If you check
out this link http://faculty.valpo.edu/bflak/dickjane/neighbors.html,
you'll see that cultural diversity did eventually enter the popular readers
- my school must have had older books.)
With Christmas approaching, I now cherish my family
traditions. We celebrated St. Nicholas day on December 6th with the
boots put out the night before. We celebrate Advent every Sunday
and we'll open one gift after sharing a poem, song
or story in front of the tree on Christmas Eve. There
is no shame.
Cultural diversity in children's books is as important as
cultural diversity in life. Children can feel so lonely when
they are labeled as different. I know. Through books, we
can empower those on the edge. Books are a one-on-one
relationship that not only reveal new worlds or old worlds
but also empower the child to understand these other worlds.
Hey, I think I figured out the slant I want to put on my panel talk!
Talk to you soon. I've got to go console a cat who can't get past
the fact that it's -26 out there.
Word of the day: shame
- a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or
from Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary