Winter is well and truly here, if this week has been anything to go by, but some bits of book news might warm your hearts and shelves right up! Those of us looking for the lost sunshine might be tempted to tap beloved teen detective Nancy Drew for her sleuthing skills, and CBS has announced this week that their TV reboot will feature a POC in the lead role. Network president Glenn Geller confirms:
“[She will] not [be] Caucasian…I’d be open to any ethnicity.”
The reboot won’t be based off existing Nancy Drew books, but instead, it will take the character forward. 30-year-old Nancy’s a NYPD detective now, Ned, and the world’s only gotten murkier since she first investigated The Secret of the Old Clock.
Millions of young girls grew up reading about Nancy’s adventures, myself included, and I would love to see some allusions to the books in the new series. CBS’s initiative will also hopefully make her story more relatable to this generation of women.
That said, little girls these days aren’t really getting very many female characters in their literature. Writer Jennie Yabrof laments the lack of girls in children’s books, citing the mere 33% of books that feature female-identifying characters. She also discusses a “self-fulfilling prophecy” often mentioned in the industry and by readers–that boys won’t read books about girls–and how that displaces the truth that parents are the one choosing books for their children. Unconscious biases towards male-led children’s books continue to erode the presence of girls in literature.
There is one heartening piece of news that might help propel some positive change towards more female characters and stories: Emma Watson has started a global book club called Our Shared Shelf on Goodreads. Her first choice is Gloria Steinem’s memoir My Life on the Road, a rather appropriate choice for a feminist book club. Readers can join Emma at the end of the month for a discussion on Goodreads, which she’ll kick off with some questions.
Here’s hoping Our Shared Shelf will also feature some women of colour writers among its choices, and/or that Emma will take suggestions from fellow readers to make the club intersectional in its vision.
Speaking of intersectional book choices, the American Library Association concluded its Midwinter conference this Monday with the 2016 Youth Media Awards! Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me won an Alex Award, given to adult books that have found a teen audience; illustrator Jerry Pinkney was honored with the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for his contributions to children’s literature.
Young People’s Poet Laureate Jacqueline Woodson was also granted the May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award, only adding to the accolades pouring in for her work this year. One of my own favourite books from 2015, Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez, was named a Printz Honor title. Our congratulations to the ALA YMA honorees, and here’s to another wonderful year of reading!