Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Marketing Geek In Me Is Taking Over Again

HELP! My computer has been hijacked by a marketing geek again. I was just reading Don Tate's blog where there is a interesting conversation about African American literacy. I'm posting few snippets from his blog with my marketing geekiness to follow.

"...Publisher's are cutting back their picture book list big-time. Of the few new titles, a good number of those books were written by celebrity authors. Even fewer titles featured African American themes.

"...People, and I'm specifically speaking to African American people, I can't encourage you enough to purchase and support those children's books that are published with your child in mind.

"Not too long ago, I found myself sitting at a book signing table. This lady, an African American parent walks up to me, excited and smiling to see a brotha representin'. She picks up one of my books, but her smile was soon replaced by a sneer. She goes on to make a comment under her breath about the $16.00 price tag on the book. She walks away. She's probably the first, with her Tommy Hilfiger-wearing ensemble, to purchase her child an X-box, or maybe those $200 Jordans, while considering a book overpriced. She'll be the first one to complain once our books go away.

"...When publisher's lists are cut — believe me — our books will be cut first. Especially if we are viewed as nonbook (children's books) buyers. And sadly, I think we are seen that way."

My thoughts:

Living in an area where there's not much diversity, I hadn't even considered this before. One of Don's readers suggested that he come up with a top ten reading list to share. I think this is an excellent idea, and I have to wonder what would happen if groups of authors and illustrators came together in support of this cause. There's the Girlfriend's Cyber Circuit. Why couldn't there be something similar to feature books with ethnically diverse characters?

With that in mind, I did a quick Google search to see what's being done about this. Look at this cool event:

The Seventeenth National African American Read-In
Sponsored by the Black Caucus of NCTE and by NCTE
Join over a million readers in theSeventeenth National African American Read-In
Sunday, February 5, 2006Monday, February 6, 2006, for schools

Schools, churches, libraries, bookstores, community and professional organizations, and interested citizens are urged to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month by hosting and coordinating Read-Ins in their communities. Hosting a Read-In can be as simple as bringing together friends to share a book, or as elaborate as arranging public readings and media presentations that feature professional African American writers.

What a great Black History Month idea!

The National Education Assocation also has this list of 100 titles that celebrate African American heritage, tradition, and achievement.

Here's another list I found with African American authors

And a reading list by Scholastic.

Reading Rockets site also has a comprehensive list. I think I like theirs best.

So, lots of lists and ideas, but most seem to be historical. History is good. But, what about just good old fun books? The bloggers who come here are obviously readers and writers. But, we all live in work with people every day. I think Don has hit upon an important issue. I encourage you to think about how you can use your influence to entice all children, especially non-readers and children of non-readers to pick up a book and READ!


At 11:18 AM, Blogger Don Tate II said...

THANKS KIM! I'll have to link up to this post...when I get a minute to blog.


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