For 2022, our reading theme is #DecolonizeBookshelves2022. Essentially, we hope to feature books that fit any of the following criteria:
Postcolonial literature and/or [pre/post] revolutionary stories
Stories by indigenous / first-nation peoples / people of colour
Narratives of survival and healing, exile and migration, displacement and dispossession
Books written or illustrated by people who have been colonized, oppressed, marginalized
The Year We Learned To Fly [Amazon | Book Depository]
Written by Jacqueline Woodson Illustrated by Rafael Lopez
Published by Nancy Paulsen Books (2022)
ISBN: 0399545530 (ISBN13: 9780399545535) Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.
While this particular story started off on a rainy day with two siblings feeling bored, it expanded into summers where the siblings try hard not to kill each other, to a reflection on one’s history of oppression, one’s acute feelings of otherness, and what to do during those times when one feels invisible.
What I find especially brilliant with Jacqueline Woodson is her capacity to distill an entire history and experience of otherness – and make it readily accessible to young readers, transforming it into story chunks that make so much perfect sense, one wonders how it has not been thought of before.
Spoken with a grandmother’s infinite wisdom, the lenses in perceiving what is tragic has been shifted as the reader is invited to use various perspectives in drawing in and out of one’s experience and imagining an elsewhere whereby a similar event may be happening and being overcome, through one way or another.
It does not talk down to children, nor does it diminish the pain of being ignored, but in articulating its truth, it loses its hold over the person, rendering it something one can hold in one’s hands, easily moulded in whatever way one decides it should be. There is power in that. There is power in these stories.
I Am Golden [Amazon | Book Depository]
Written by Eva Chen Illustrated by Sophie Diao
Published by Feiwel Friends (2022)
ISBN: 1250842050 (ISBN13: 9781250842053) Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.
Reminiscent of Eyes That Kiss In The Corners by Joanna Ho and Dung Ho (Amazon | Book Depository – see my review here), this is a story spoken through the voice of Mei’s parents who are letting her know how much she is loved and cherished.
We see eyes that point toward the sun, that give us the warmth and joy of a thousand rays when you smile. We see hair as inky black and smooth as a peaceful night sky. We see skin brushed with gold.
The story becomes even more poignant and contemporary when the Author spoke about the “meteoric rise in anti-Asian sentiment” during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, inspiring her to write this story, paradoxically at a time when she was advising her own parents to wear sunglasses – and essentially remain invisible so as to not let people realize they are Asians and become targets of gratuitous hate and violence.
Once again, I am struck by the capacity of stories to provide a form of restorying to what is currently happening in our lives. At a time when one feels an overwhelming sense of despair and helplessness, writing about a world one envisions and what could be ignites hope and light.
Reading stories such as these means the creation of pathways where none existed, a forging of an alternative way of being that is defined not by people who resent us but love us; it gives young readers the opportunity to turn golden.
#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Update: 29/30 out of target 100