Five years ago today, I published my first blog post: a book review of Jada Jones by Kelly Starling Lyons. What started as a single blog post of a short chapter book has turned into more than 300 reviews and interviews with authors, illustrators and book lovers! I’m overjoyed that I have read and introduced you to so many diverse books, with topics ranging from a picture book about coping with grief to a story about the life of Harvey Milk and books with characters who are Native American and Black.
When I started this blog, thanks to a suggestion from author Lisa Rose, it was because I wanted to spread awareness about the books I didn’t see on the bookshelf in my 4th grade classroom – the ones with characters who looked like me, or who were a different religion or different ethnicity than people I knew. Now, I see myself and others in books much more. I believe it is because of the actions of people (like the founders of WeNeedDiverseBooks) who have recognized and advocated for more representation and awarness of diversity in books.
I have learned more about different cultures and ethnicities from the books I’ve reviewed. For example, when I read Coming Of Age and interviewed several of the authors who contributed to the anthology, I discovered things about the Jewish faith I didn’t know before like the amount of preparation it takes for a b’nai mitvah to happen. When I read The Water Princess, I learned how, in certain parts of Africa, many women have to walk miles to get a basic need: water. And, when I read Firekeeper’s Daughter, I learned about the Native American Objibwe culture; I remember this memorable phrase, “ninde gidayan”, which means “you have my heart.”
While I still love poetry and realistic fiction best, being a book blogger also exposed me to new genres I now enjoy, including dystopian and mystery.
I am grateful to have gained so much experience and opportunities through Elena Reads. Shortly after my 10th birthday, I gave an “EdTalk” in front of more than 100 people sharing why representation matters in books. Since then, I was interviewed by Fox 2 News, and the host of the MakeMeaning podcast. You can see more of what I’ve done in the Media tab.
Five memorable moments from the past five years:
- My conversation with Jerry Craft, whose books I love a lot! (It was my first video interview and we had similar opinions on why books should not be banned.)
- Meeting Detroit author Jean Alicia Elster in person – three times! (I have reviewed three of her books and she has been a true supporter from the start.)
- Getting a picture with Ruby Bridges, someone I have looked up to since I was a first-grader. (In honor of my 5-year anniverary, I’m giving away Ruby Bridges: This Is Your Time, an autobiographical book about her life. Check my Instagram on Monday for details.)
- Reaching 1K followers on my Instagram account. (It’s really cool to know so many people are interested in what I’m doing.)
- Getting to know fellow blogger Bridget and the Books. (She doesn’t blog anymore, but she definitely remains an inspiration to me.)
Thank you so much for reading and supporting my work. I hope you’ll stay on this journey with me. Next year, you can expect more young adult books, because I am reading more of those lately. I hope to continue this blog for as long as possible because I love to read and write – and combining the two is superb.