I’m so excited to be participating in (and guest-blogging for!) Book Blogger Appreciation Week! My name is Ari and my blog is Reading in Color. I’m half Black, half Latina and I’m in high school. Reading in Color is a teen book blog that reviews YA books about people of color (Asians, Latina/os, Native Americans, and African Americans). While there may be an occasional off-color (aka book being reviewed with a white protagonist) book review, the reviews will generally be only about teens of color.
I started Reading in Color for two reasons. 1) I love to read. It’s my passion and sometimes I will choose to stay home and just curl up with a good book, rather than go hang out with friends.
2) Since I loved to read so much, I was always visiting book blogs, (especially book blogs that reviewed YA books) to find new books to read. However, I quickly noticed something. Most of the books reviewed were about white girls. This bothered me. I wanted to read books about teens who looked me or who were at least different from the white norm. So I decided to start a blog that would review the kind of books I wanted to read, books that celebrated and promoted cultural diversity.
It’s vital that people read books about people who are different from them. Reading about people from different ethnic/class/religious backgrounds helps promote tolerance. I firmly believe literature can help combat racism and raise tolerance. Once you read about people from different backgrounds, you realize that while they may look different or wear different clothes or practice a different religion, they are a lot like you. The struggles that teens face in everyday life are generally the same (love/sex, drugs, alcohol, school, family, friendship difficulties).
I review books about teens of color because I want teen readers to have options, especially teen readers of color. I don’t want teens of color thinking their options are limited, that there are few books about people who look like them. The statistics of teens who read who are not white is very low. We need to encourage more teens of color to read. Raise literacy levels and you help encourage kids to get an education, get kids an education and they go to college and ultimately become successful in life. Getting more teens to read is the first step. Also, I want publishers to put more faces of color on book covers. The Liar controversy firmly convinced me that authors should have a say in the making of the final book cover, it also taught me that sometimes publishers just don’t understand. My hope is that if there is a positive enough response to my blog, that more people go out and buy books about people of color, the publishers will look at the numbers and say “Well since lots of teens are reading books about people of color, let’s start putting faces of teens of color on the covers”. Ambitious goal, but I think if more people start reviewing YA books about people of color, it will happen.