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All Things Asian Kick-Off

All Things Asian - a two week long celebration of Asian culture and presence in young adult novels - has begun! To start it off, Julia from That Hapa Chick, Lucia from iLive, iLaugh, iLove Books, and I are holding the first giveaway, where you can win from the selection of books posted below (2 winners - internationally open!) or a Barnes & Noble gift card (internationally too!)

Each of these fantastic books is by an Asian author and/or features one or more Asian characters to help spread diversity in YA literature.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
One of the reasons I'm so excited for this event to start is because people sometimes underestimate how important it is to feature minorities in books. As some of you may know, I'm half-Asian and look the part, but I grew up (and am still living in) a very white town, which had all of two black families. While there were several Asian families, most were second- or third-generation, meaning most had little connection to Asian culture, whereas my family, being one of immigrant parents, was deeply ingrained in it.

As a very young child, I knew there was something different about me. I wasn't old enough to understand concepts about race, but I knew that everyone else seemed to be of one type of person - and then there was me. Even the Asian children that looked sort of like me didn't have the same cultural traditions I participated in - didn't eat the same food or celebrate the same holidays - and were like everyone else in thinking those were weird quirks about me.

I've always been an avid reader, but back then (and even to an extent now), nearly every book I read had white characters. White girls and white boys seemed to populate every fantasy, adventure, science-fiction, and contemporary novel I read, and it only perpetuated the notion that something was vaguely wrong with me.

I distinctly remember thinking things like, "Oh, I would be prettier if I was like everyone else," and envisioned myself with lighter skin, hair, and eyes, even though I didn't know what that meant. All I knew was that I was different, and different meant wrong.

All that changed when I came across the first book I'd ever read that had a main Asian character. Regretfully I can't remember nor find the title and author of the book, but it was about an Asian second-grade girl with an immigrant mother living in a pretty much all-white town and was excited when another young Asian girl moved to town, but the new girl was actually adopted and had a somewhat sardonic personality, and ended up being a bad influence upon her.

What impressed me most about the book was how similar her situation was to mine (minus the new girl, of course), and how she often felt the same way as me. It was by reading that book that I realized there is nothing wrong with me, and that while I was different from everyone else in my class, that meant nothing bad.

So to wrap up this excessively long post, diversity in lit - any lit - is important, and anyone who says it isn't doesn't know what they're talking about.

Enjoy the next two weeks!

To follow the rest of the event, go to our All Things Asian event page for all the posts and giveaways! Click HERE to see more awesomeness. And don't forget to check out That Hapa Chick and iLive, iLove, iLaugh Books today for more posts!


Truly Bookish said...

Very cool that you are doing this! I started a Multi-Cultural Book Challenge on my blog for similar reasons: to highlight YA books written by muti-cultural/ethnic minorities or featuring multi-cultural/ethnic minorities as main characters. I'm from Jamaica and am half black and half East Indian, my husband is part black and part Asian and our kids are a mix of us both. There is not nearly enough ethnic diversity in literature and needless to say, I think it's so important. I will be sure to check out your posts over the next two weeks!

Lucia (iLive, iLaugh, iLove Books) said...

We've worked together for so long, and you got my blog name wrong?

You're not my friend anymore. :(

Izzy G. said...

Oh no! I'll go fix that, my bad! xD

We Heart YA said...

We had no idea you were mixed (like Kristan!) - that's awesome. We're so excited that you guys invited her to be part of your All Things Asian celebration, and we're looking forward to reading all the posts! :)

Ishita aka Fishy said...

Yay! thank you!! :D Umm should I tweet you?

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