Saturday, May 10, 2014

Top 5 list for MG/YA Diversity (via Yahoo)

According to the Huffington Post, libraries are working to bridge the cultural divide in readers because a "child's lack of exposure to other cultures, [can fuel] intolerance and cultural invisibility."
Diversity in Young Adult and Middle Grade books got a huge boost this week from a group of authors, publishers, and bloggers who declared that it is "the time to raise our voices into a roar."
The Tumblr movement dubbed #WeNeedDiverseBooks was aimed at raising awareness around diversity in children's literature. The campaign garnered support from ... 

Sunday, May 4, 2014



I agree. We need diverse books. 

I’ve always been concerned about diversity in literature. For me, diversity can mean more than race, gender, or ethnicity; it can mean socio-economic, geographic, or cultural diversity.

This diverse book campaign reminds me of Mike McQueen’s hugely successful #GettingBoysToRead movement. In Mike’s new book, he gives educators tips on helping and encouraging boys to … well… um … read.

Still, boys have to have something to read. They need an actual book, a novel, they want to read. But those books exist! We just have to put them in the boys’ hands. Equally, we need diverse books. But at the same time, I would say that we actually have them. We may not have enough, but they are there.

We have to promote the books that address these needs. Let’s take this “We Need” to a higher level. If we want those books, if we need those books then let’s start by showcasing the books that we already have.

Let’s raise up these diverse books and boy books by promoting them. I’ll start by showing two of my all-time favorite books that satisfy both categories: diverse and boys. 

Both diverse. Both boy books.

Please share your favorite diverse book or your favorite book for boys in the comments!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Author Q&A

1.                  Why do you write what you do?
I’ve always been drawn to international stories—spy novels and thrillers in particular. But when I was a kid there were no international children’s stories available. So now I write stories that I would have wanted to read when I was ten, eleven, and twelve. My novels are set in international locales because travel has made me feel alive and given me an insatiable curiosity to learn.

2.                  How does your work differ from others of its genre?
In three big ways. One, it’s realistic fiction. There are no dragons, no magic; it’s just kids solving problems created by adults. Two, with more than 100 geographic terms, the book has a strong travel theme. “It’s like a quick trip to Paris.” Thirdly, the book is kid appropriate—“no sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll,” or guns. It works well for adults reading to kids. #WeNeedDiverseBooks

3.                  How do you promote your work to the middle grade audience?

Middle grade is challenging since the sales pitch is twofold. Your customers (children) are not necessarily the buyers (parents). So in essence, you have to sell the book twice. To this end, I teach, speak, and read at schools, bookstores, and libraries all over. I also use the usual social media suspects: Twitter: Crime Travelers @paulaertker, Google+ PaulAertker, the website:, and of course, Amazon and local bookstores. The full Q&A interview can be found online here.