The Sunday Salon: The Amelia Bloomer Project

Do y’all remember that young adult and children’s literature class I took last year (hence that rash of remarkably out-of-character book selections, even for omnivorous me)? Well, the professor of that class and I have been having some fruitful discussions—she used this very blog in the class, invited me to lead their discussion on The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and invited me to hear their guest speaker, Jennie Law, on Tuesday, who came to talk about the Amelia Bloomer Project.

The Amelia Bloomer Project is, as it says on their blog, “an annual booklist of the best feminist books for young readers, ages birth through 18“. Ten years ago, a group of feminist librarians were at an American Library Association conference and wondered how they could identify books for young readers with feminist content—and so the list was born. Law made it very clear to us that the Amelia Bloomer Project is a list, not an award; awards would require them to narrow the field, which isn’t the point of the list, and, of course, require money. She did mention that some librarians do use it as a basis of display, which I found charming.

For a book to placed on the list, it must be judged successful in four different categories of criteria; significant feminist content (which, Law pointed out, does not always mean “girl versus oppression”), excellence in writing (although from her description, this is more technical—typos and the like—than narrative), appealing format (does it fit the age group? Will kids want to look at the illustrations?), and age appropriateness for young readers. Members of the committee nominate and take nominations for books, which are then read by most of the committee and rated. Law showed us the spreadsheet for this, which sent me into thrills of organization and bibliophilia. There’s no quota for anything and each book is evaluated on its own merits—she used the example of historical figures to talk about how they don’t put one Amelia Earhart book on there and call it a day.

how i found her this afternoon

After her short presentation, Law took questions. There was an interesting exchange concerning gender; after Law told us that “if you can replace the main character with a little boy, it probably won’t make this list,” we were curious as to whether or not a book about a boy dealing with gender issues or a young male feminist would make the list. Books are examined on a case-by-case basis, but Law pointed out that books about boys are much more celebrated for younger readers, thus making a resource about feminist texts for young readers caters more important. And, of course, this points out the fact that we think little boys won’t want to read about or sympathize with feminist issues, which is interesting in and of itself… Law also pointed out, while describing the committee, that only two men have served on it over the past ten years—not because they want an all-female committee, but because men simply don’t apply.

Despite hitting its first decade this year, the Amelia Bloomer Project is still a bit under the radar; I’d never heard of it before Dr. Coia brought it up, and even then I confused it with a Bust list from a few years ago. Nominations are open to the public, and titles published between July 2011 and December 2012 are eligible, so feel free to hop on over and do so! Law mentioned possibly composing lists for the decades prior to 2002 in order to recognize feminist texts; in particular, she mentioned Patricia Wrede’s Dealing with Dragons. Sounds like a perfectly good excuse to go reread that one…

I’m in Louisiana at the moment; there was a family wedding yesterday. However, I am flying back to Georgia today, where I’ve got a lot of stuff to do that didn’t get done because I was in Louisiana! Whee. I brought The Tales of Beedle the Bard and A People’s History of the United States to occupy myself, but I do have a hefty exam in a subject I’m not terribly good at on Tuesday, so I may have just listened to the taped lectures over and over again. I did see The Hunger Games at midnight—not one of my better ideas, given the flight I had to catch in the morning, but a lot of fun nonetheless.

Tor/Forge is giving away copies of Living Proof, So Damn Lucky, and The Next One to Fall until Wednesday. Tor/Forge is giving away a prize pack of eight of their spring releases until April 6; you have to sign up for their newsletter. The Baen Free Library is full of free downloads, including The Shadow of the Lion and On Basilisk Station. Night Shade Books is offering Butcher Bird and Grey as free downloads at the moment. Vertigo Comics is offering free downloads of the first issue of several series, including Fables, The Unwritten, and Y: The Last Man. (And you will go download The Unwritten.) Small Beer Press offers several of their books as free downloads, including Kelly Link’s Magic for Beginners. If I’ve missed your giveaway or freebie, drop me a line!

Have you guys heard of the Amelia Bloomer Project?

One thought on “The Sunday Salon: The Amelia Bloomer Project

  1. I found out about the project some three years ago and look forward to their list every year! The criteria are excellent, though funnily enough I have just finished a book from the 2012 list (The Year We Were Famous) and found it pretty disappointing. Can’t love them all, I guess.

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