Children's blogger, Betsy Bird of Fuse #8 Production, over at School Library Journal recently announced a new poll. The Top 100 Children's Fictional Chapter Books.
Everyone has until January 31, send along there 10 top middle grade choices of all time. When I saw the announcement, I knew that the majority of my selections would feature kids of color. I would be to able to vote for Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth , Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia, Konigsurg's The View from Saturday or any number of middle grade novels with White protagonists that I love and deserve to be on the list. But I can't. With my picks I am striving for a little color balance. I don't feel bad or guilty about the way I will vote. I love color in fiction but I am not blinded by it. I don't lower my standards or exceptions simply because a book has characters of color.
I haven't sent my 10 top middle grade choices yet. Haven't even written them down. They're still floating around in my head. Though I am happy they're there because I can remember what I loved about them and why they're deserving of my vote. If you think what I am doing isn't necessary then take a look at the results of last year's 100 Picture Book Poll results. I recommend more then a few of those titles on a regular basis at the bookstore where I work. It's a great list of titles but its also noticeably lacking in color.
I can't complain about last year's results since I didn't vote or take the time to ask others to remember color when choosing their favorite picture books. I am asking now - if you are taking part in the poll, please consider coloring it up. Please take a moment to think about middle grade novels with characters of color like Flake's Money Hungry, Garcia's I Wanna Be Your Shoebox
or Lin's The Year of the Dog.