Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 4, 2022

Finding, Celebrating and Sharing Your Culture

Who’s Got Culture? Finding, Celebrating and Sharing Yours

by Dr. Mira Reisberg

Howdy, Kathy Temean mates! Did you notice how I just merged two distinct cultures in that short sentence? Howdy is old Western American language, and mates is British or Australian. Also, have you noticed how for the first time in history the definition and popularity of children’s books that include culture has broadly widened. Back in the 80s when multiculturalism was first popularly introduced in Education, and then kind of disappeared again, culture mostly meant people of color. But today, stories that include culture in some form, or another, are really valued in kidlit publishing! And this time it includes different racial and cultural identities including ethnicity, LGBTQ, disability, occasionally class (although more urban working-class books are definitely needed, especially ones that have hope) and so much more.

Culture can be defined in many ways from the customs we learn from our families to the way we dress for an event. How your family celebrated Christmas is totally different from the way my family didn’t. And if your family celebrated in some deep and meaningful, or quirky and hilarious way, then you could have a really wonderful and popular children’s book. And of course, now I have an idea for a kid’s book called Lost at Christmas, which is exactly how I felt as a non-Christian who didn’t get the presents and cards, and trees and all the other stuff my classmates got.

My cultures are as follows: Jewish, Australian, Californian (because I lived there so long and progressive ideas are part of my cultural identity), immigrant, artist, writer, teacher, and disability because I have an autoimmune illness that disables me at times, and misfit because I’ve always been a bit rebellious and different. So, you can see, culture comes from many places. I could draw from any of these sources to write hilarious or meaningful books. I’m teaming up with former student Melissa-Jane Fogarty for this first panel to show you how learning about Indigenous Australian books and Jewish-American books can help you in writing or illustrating your own children’s books, talk about how we are collaboratively creating a cross-cultural picture book from each of our cultures, and share contemporary children’s books from our cultures. As part of this panel, A.J. Sass will also talk about writing from their multiplicity of cultures and share about collaboratively creating and publishing middle grade novels.

If you want to take advantage of your own rich cultures, a really good place to start is from your home or ancestral culture, which can include mythological, folktale, indigenous, landscape, food traditions, heroes, immigration, and historical stories among others as well as your other personal cultures and traditions. Maybe you’re of German descent? A nonfiction story on the history of lederhosen might be fun: https://www.oktoberfesthaus.com/blogs/okt/39278593-lederhosen-or-lederhose-the-origins-and-history  Or a contemporary retelling of one of the many German folktales here: https://fairytalez.com/region/german/ or a biography of the Grimm Brothers called Monty Takes a Grim Look at the Grimm Brothers. The possibilities are endless in creating something fresh and original. All you have to do is Google the name of your ancestral home or culture, or ancestral home and then “folktales”. Alternately you might want to write an alphabet book of words that come from Germany: https://grammar.yourdictionary.com/word-lists/list-of-english-words-of-german-origin.html or whatever cultural background you have.

THE THING IS EVERYONE HAS CULTURE!!! And there’s a ginormous curiosity about the huge variety of cultural experiences!

That’s why we created Got Culture? When Imagination Meets Lived History as our first panel at the 2022 KidLit Palooza running Septemer 17-19th. We want you to tap into your own cultures and deepen your knowledge of other cultures when you learn from the presenters and unique worksheets at the Palooza.

We’ll teach you how to creatively pull from your culture or collaborate with people from your own or other cultures. Art is timeless and so is culture. Each of the panels in the KidLit Palooza is designed to help attendees radically improve their craft, their repertoire of stories AND open new doors to publication with interactive pitch and bio makeovers, submission opportunities, information about publishing internationally, and timely panels with innovative workshops and worksheets (not to mention bonuses, prizes, parties, giveaways, free masterclasses, and handouts for each panel).

Make your impact! Take advantage of this Keynote panel and others to learn from the many award-winning published authors, illustrators, editors, art directors, and agents at the 2022 KidLit Palooza. Have fun with the keynotes, obtain valuable worksheets, and expand your network, so don’t miss out! https://bit.ly/22KidLitPalooza

BIO: Dr. Mira Reisberg has worked as a former acquiring editor & art director, literary agent, children’s literature professor, & as the Director of the Children’s Book Academy for many years. Her former students have published over 860 books & won every major children’s book award that she knows of. She’s extremely excited to be co-teaching at the upcoming 2022 KidLit Palooza scholarship fundraiser with panels of brilliant authors, illustrators, editors, agents & art directors right here:
https://bit.ly/22KidLitPalooza Mira has a PhD in Education and Cultural Studies with a focus on children’s books. Find her at the Children’s Book Academy: http://bit.ly/CreateKidsBooks or on Twitter @ChildrensBookAc

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. Hi Kathy, I love your idea but what do you think of an Irish white girl writing a PB bio of a runaway slave. (There are no blacks or slaves in my lineage that I know of) But do readers resent this scenario? Thank you for all your daily words of wisdom!!Colleen Fogarty@colleenfogart14

    Like

  2. Kathy, you never cease to amaze me. How you put up such valuable posts EVERY DAY is superhero calibre!

    Like


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