Posts Tagged MG

News From the CBC

Middle Grade Authors

The mission of the Children’s Book Council (CBC) is to support the children’s publishing industry by connecting publishing professionals and creators with young readers. And they find a lot of ways to fulfill that mission. Take a look at some of the things the CBC is doing in the world of children’s books.

The CBC Diversity Initiative

White box, rainbow stripe, CBC Diversity

Founded in 2012, the CBC Diversity Initiative advocates for an inclusive and representative children’s publishing industry. The initiative is rooted in the belief that ALL children should see themselves and their worlds reflected in books. 

As part of this initiative, the CBC champions diverse book creators and their books, and they create and maintain diverse reading resource lists that can be used by teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents.

The #FReadom Movement

Letters to color in spelling #FReadom

The CBC actively supports #FReadom. This movement was launched by Texas librarians in 2021 as a way to combat book bannings. #FReadom resources are intended to highlight the positive impact of intellectual freedom, celebrate school libraries and librarians, and draw attention to the need to make diverse books available to young readers.

The CBC has made available six different coloring pages to support the #FReadom movement. Download the free coloring pages here

Children’s Book Week

Blue background, green and black book running gleefully, text "Read books. Spark change."

As part of their Every Child a Reader program, the CBC designates two separate weeks during the year to celebrate the joy of reading. Established in 1919, this is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. This year, Children’s Book Week will be celebrated May 1-7 and again November 6-12

This year’s theme for Children’s Book Week is Read Books. Spark change. You can download printable resources, including the free poster created by Rilla Alexander that speaks to the power of books and stories to inspire positive change.

Partnering with SLJGraphic illustrated, gray background, colorful characters, rainbow stream

In 2022, the CBC partnered with School Library Journal (SLJ) to create two posters celebrating the freedom to read. First, they worked with Penguin Random House and artist Rafael Lopex to create the “Open Books, Open Doors” poster to promote free expression and access to diverse books. You can download Lopez’s poster for free.

Next, they worked with artist Chan Chau to produce a poster themed “Imagining a world with you.”  The poster celebrates LGBTQIA+ children and teens, and it was showcased and made widely available by multiple organizations, including the CBC. You can download a copy of Chau’s poster for free.

Banned Books Week

Red book cover by yellow tape, text "Banned Books Week"

The CBC also partners with the American Library Association (ALA) to support and promote Banned Books Week. Launched in 1982, this annual observance has become more relevant now than ever. This year, Banned Books Week will be observed October 1-7. Mark your calendars!

Free downloads and information from last year’s Banned Books Week observance are still available on ALA’s website. While there, you can also find “Social Shareables” to show your support on multiple social media platforms.

Learn more about the Children’s Book Council and all their initiatives to promote free access to books and celebrate the power and wonder of books for young readers by visiting

Congratulations, Meg Medina!

Meg Median with medal

Newberry winner Meg Medina has been selected as the 2023-2024 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. The Library of Congress, in partnership with Every Child a Reader, seeks to raise awareness of literature for young readers in order to promote literacy and highlight the power of reading to positively impact young lives.

Meg Medina


About Medina’s Work

Medina’s books reflect her Cuban-American heritage as she examines culture and identity through the eyes of young protagonists. Her middle-grade novel Merci Suarez Changes Gears, the first in a series of three books, is a coming-of-age story about a thoughtful, strong-willed sixth-grader who has to navigate life’s changes with friends and family. It was awarded the 2019 Newbery Medal and was named by the New York Times Book Review as a notable children’s book.

Merci Suarez Changes Gears book cover; girl on bike; Newbery medal


Medina’s Role as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

In her new role, Medina will travel the country, engaging readers through her ¡Cuéntame!: Let’s talk books platform. The name of her platform borrows a Spanish expression used when friends and family members are catching up with one another. Medina’s goal is to encourage connection among families, classrooms, libraries, and communities through conversations about books. In addition to discussing her own work, Medina plans to host “book talks” with kids about a range of authors, styles, and genres. She hopes to not only expose readers to books that reflect their own lives, but to also expose readers to new perspectives through characters who represent a variety of lived experiences.

Medina says, “It’s an enormous honor to advocate for the reading and writing lives of our nation’s children and families. I realize the responsibility is critical, but with the fine examples of previous ambassadors to guide me, I am eager to get started on my vision for this important work. More than anything, I want to make reading and story-sharing something that happens beyond classroom and library walls. I want to tap into books and stories as part of everyday life, with all of us coming to the table to share the tales that speak to us and that broaden our understanding of one another.”

Meg Medina at speaker podium wearing medal

History of the Role

The designation of a National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature began in 2008. The Library of Congress makes their selection based on recommendations by a field of experts, including educators, librarians, booksellers, and children’s literature specialists. The position was last held by author Jason Reynolds, and other former ambassadors include Jon Scieszka, Katherine Paterson, Kate DiCamillo, and Jacqueline Woodson.

In the News

You can watch Medina’s inauguration as National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature here, and learn about this former teacher’s perspective on reading and her mission to revitalize joy in readers. To learn more about Medina’s travels and events, visit the Every Child a Reader website. Watch for downloadable materials related to Medina’s mission and appearances coming soon.

Congratulations to middle-grade author Meg Medina for this special honor. We will be watching as young people across the country engage with reading through ¡Cuéntame!: Let’s talk books.


Somos Americanos También – We Are Also American



We Need Diverse MG

Artwork by Aixa Perez-Prado

Finding Our Places in the World

Do you have any troubling childhood experiences that have stuck with you? Ones that have taken up permanent residence in your adult psyche? Maybe things someone said or did that you have not been able to forget —no matter how hard you try. I’d like to tell you about some of my memories as a child immigrant, because they underscore the need for diverse middle grade books. When misrepresentation, or lack of representation, of an entire continent, it’s people and languages are part of a childhood story – how does that affect how children find their place in the world?

The In-Between Years

Fourth to seventh grade seem to be pivotal childhood years. Maybe it’s because kids are at that magical age of in-between. An age of transition that can be powerful and perilous, hilarious and horrible. A lot of the troubling expereinces I remember happened during my middle school years. And they all start with words.

“Go back to Mexico!”

This is something a friend said to me once. She was ‘joking’. So many of the words that stick were meant to be jokes, but felt more like little punches. I told her I’d never been to Mexico. “Then go back to Spain!” she countered.

I explained that I’d never been there either. Puerto Rico? I had also never been. Laughter ensued. Nobody could understand what I was. After all, I spoke Spanish so I must be from Mexico, Spain or Puerto Rico. But I’m from Argentina. That was a strange place to be from in Buffalo, N.Y. all those years ago. I suppose it’s different now, but back then that was weird. I was weird, and always struggling to fit in. Struggling to find myself in books, TV shows, movies — in the world I lived in. But no matter how hard I looked, I wasn’t there.


Soy Argentina @aixasdoodlesandbooks

“Why are you white?”

My classmate was looking in our social studies textbook. There was a picture of an indigenous South American child dressed in traditional gaucho costume in a rural setting. My experience of South America was nothing like this child’s experience, but he was the only representation of a person from my entire continent in our textbook.  I explained that I was from the big city, Buenos Aires. I told my classmate that I had never even seen a gaucho, and that not everybody from South America looked like this child, dressed like this child, or had that kind of lifestyle. But my classmate persisted in wanting to know why I was white. I explained that my grandparents and great grandparents were mostly European.“Then you’re not really one of them,” my classmate declared, “or one of us.”

Words can be daggers sometimes. Because what does an in-between child want more than anything in the world? It is often to fit in somewhere, anywhere, to be like everyone else. Most children want to find connections with the protagonists of books, the characters in cartoons, the heroes of history. Some children never do.

“You’re not American.”

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard this, both inside and outside of school settings. In fact, I am American by birth, as is every South and Central American. We are from the Americas. It is true that those born in the US are most often referred to as ‘American,’ but that does not negate the fact that the rest of us also have claim to that label and all that it implies. We also come from a continent that was populated and thriving when colonization occurred. In many countries we also had slavery and the genocide of indigenous peoples. We also are culturally diverse mosaics made up of Native Americans, the descendants of enslaved peoples, descendants of immigrants from all over the world, and a mixture of all of those groups. We also hold the brutal, glorious and complicated history of what it means to be American. But the books I found as a child, and even as an adult, often didn’t reflect that.

america latina“Why does your mom talk like that?”

My mother had a heavy accent. She talked ‘like that’ because she learned English in her thirties. My mother was a physician who spoke fluent English but would never pass for a native speaker, and why should she? She had a full life before immigration. She had an established identity as an Argentinian professional woman. I am ashamed to say that I was ashamed of her accent when I was a kid. Every time I saw a character with an accent in a book, cartoon or movie, the accent was a source of ridicule or shame. Unfortunately, I internalised that message.

How can books help?

As a child immigrant, kidlit author/illustrator, professor of diversity studies and teacher education, I am convinced that the more books we have that represent linguistic and cultural minority communities in all of their varieties, the better. In Latin America and the Caribbean there are over thirty countries and dozens of languages spoken aside from Spanish and Portuguese. Latin Americans come in all skin tones, eye and hair colors, shapes, and sizes. Native/ Indigenous Latin Americans or Pueblos Originarios (Original Peoples as they are called in some countries) have rich histories, cultures, belief systems and a wealth of knowledge to explore. Luckily, more kidlit books are coming out from Latin American and Caribbean authors that challenge the stereotypes of what it means to be an American from south of the US border. Still, even more are needed. Below are a few books that I recommend (or that have been recommended to me) by Latinx and Caribbean authors that provide captivating, thoughtful, and fresh perspectives on all kinds of American stories.

Libros Recomendados – Recommended books

The following books contain a rich variety of experiences and adventures for kids in those in-between years who are also often in-between cultures. Most of these books feature immigrant children or children of immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean and are written by authors who have the authenticity and background to represent those cultures in the diverse and complex way they deserve to be represented. Happy Reading!


lobizona Lobizona (YA) by Romina Garber – This book has so much to offer, experiences of the undocumented, conflicting feelings about identity and belonging, Argentine culture and werewolves!

“This layered novel blends languages and cultures to create a narrative that celebrates perseverance.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

(**new book by this author – Cazadora)



Niños: Poems for the Lost Children of Chile by Maria Jose Ferrada, translated by Lawrence Schimel, illustrated by Maria Elena Valdez. A book to be read and remembered, a tribute to children whose lives were lost by forces not of their own creation. Kirkus

Click on the image for more information from the publisher


fish bookWhat if a Fish (MG) by Anika Fajardo  – This book takes place between the US and Colombia and centres around one child’s search for his own story of belonging with some magical realism thrown in.

Click on the link to read my interview with the author and on the book itself to to to the publisher’s page.

Multilayered and convincing, the book will have readers rooting for its sweet and smart protagonist. Kirkus


total eclipseThe Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez (MG) by Adriana CuevasA charming and vibrant debut fantasy”. Kirkus.

Click on the title link to see the MUF interview of the author and learn more about this book, and click on the image for info from the publisher.

(**new book by this author– Cuba in my Pocket – interview coming up in 2022)


The Other Half of Happy (MG) by Rebecca Balcarcel “At its core, Balcárcel’s novel is a story of identity within one’s self and within a broader community.” School Library Journal

This is a Pura Belpre Honor book. Click on the image for information from the publisher.



flew awayHaiti: The Year I Flew Away (MG) by Marie Arnold. “Pratchett like world building centres immigrant kids in a story filled with culture, humor and heart.” Kirkus. 

Click on the image for more information on this magical book from the publisher.



Aida SalazarThe Moon Within (MG) by Aida Salazar “A dazzling story told with the sensitivity, humor, and brilliant verse of debut talent Aida Salazar.” This is a novel in verse that explores multiple layers of identity as well as gender and heritage.

Click on the image for more information from the publisher.



garzaThe Garza Twins series (MG) by David Bowles Bowles creates an action-packed story based on Aztec and Mayan mythology while capturing the realities of life in contemporary South Texas and Mexico.” –Pura Belpré Award Committee

Click on the image for more information from the publisher.


lolaThe Lola Levine series by Monica Brown  “Celebrate a truly accepting multicultural character.” Kirkus

Click on the image for more information on this entire, fun, young MG series.



Latinx Kidlit Book Festival This Week!

And don’t forget to participate in the Latinx Kidlit Book Festival this week streaming on YouTube with interesting panels for teachers, and authors, and interactive activities for readers of all ages. See my blogpost with festival organisers for more information or click on the heading to go directly to the festival YouTube area.


LKBF invite