Ethnic Studies and Youth Literature: A Critical Reader

deadline for submissions: 
August 1, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez/ LaGuardia Community College (CUNY)

In the last ten years, youth literature, as a US institution, has had a major reckoning with its complicity in systemic racism and oppression. This reckoning has taken place in direct relationship to social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter, Me Too, and We Need Diverse Books, all of which are rooted in communities of color. For example, in my book, Side by Side: US Empire, Puerto Rico and the Roots of American Youth Literature and Culture (UP Mississippi, March 2021), I argue that the study of youth literature in the US was built on a purposeful separation from fields like Ethnic Studies. This was the case despite the fact that youth literature has always been rooted in multiracial, multilingual epistemologies. Side by Side marks one scholarly effort to recapture these roots, in part by engaging the many communities and worlds where youth literature has been mobilized for social justice but which the academic study of youth literature too often disregards.


Building on this work, my colleague Sonia Alejandra Rodríguez and I are assembling a volume of scholarly and creative nonfiction essays emphasizing the multiple ways Ethnic Studies shapes approaches in our fields in the United States, including literary studies, K-12 and higher education, and library science. With Ethnic Studies and Youth Literature we seek to center the voices and experiences of BIPOC scholars, librarians, educators, and writers who continue to push for Ethnic Studies and Critical Race Theory practice within youth literature and culture. While diversity within youth literature and culture, including in academia and in the publishing industry, has become a growing trend, these conversations on critical race theory and ethnic studies and youth literature are not new but often happen in the background of major conferences, in one time special issues of journals, or in private conversations. This critical reader is an opportunity to bring to the forefront these conversations and in turn carve space for further discussion, analysis, and institutional change. 


We are looking for contributions from BIPOC scholars, librarians, and educators. Topics may include but are not limited to: 


  • Ethnic Studies histories and methodologies and youth literature and culture

  • Feminisms of color and youth literature and culture

  • Intersections between Culturally-Sustaining Pedagogies and Youth Literature

  • Transnational Feminism and youth literature and culture 

  • US empires and youth literature and culture

  • Student of color activism and youth literature

  • BIPOC youth literature in the K-12 classroom

  • BIPOC youth literature in the college classroom

  • BIPIC youth literature and library services

  • Creative non-fiction essays on the praxis of BIPOC youth literature 

  • Afro-Latinx perspectives and youth literature

  • Afro-Asian and Asian-Latinx perspectives and youth literature 

  • Afro-Indigenous perspectives and youth literature 

  • Critical Indigenous Studies and youth literature 

  • Asian American Studies, Black Studies, Chicanx Studies, Puerto Rican Studies, and youth literature and culture

  • Critical Race Theory, LatCrit, Queer Crit analyzes of youth literature

  • Disability Studies and youth literature 

  • Aesthetics, knowledge production in youth literature and culture

Deadlines: BIPOC scholars, librarians, educators, and writers can submit a 500-word abstract and a brief biography by July 1, 2021 using this google form. If you have any questions, please contact Marilisa Jiménez García  at  and Sonia Alejandra Rodríguez at Chapters of 6,000 will be due November 1, 2021. SUNY Press has expressed interest in the volume and invited a full proposal, to be submitted once abstracts have been received. 


Marilisa Jiménez García is an assistant professor of English and Latinx Studies at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and the author of Side by Side: US Empire, Puerto Rico, and the Roots of American Youth Literature and Culture. She is also the founding director of the Institute on Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at Lehigh, founded with student activists of color.


Sonia Alejandra Rodríguez is an Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College (CUNY) where she teaches composition, literature, and creative writing. She is a current recipient of the 2021 Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowship. Her research has been published in Children’s Literature and Children’s Literature in Education and in several edited collections. She is also a creative writer.