When asked if she'd like to chill and talk over apple cider at Starbucks or to go to a bookstore, my 13-year old cousin Brianna was a girl after my own heart. "Let's go to the bookstore. I'd love to see what's out right now!"
It's always fun to go shopping with someone who is the age group you prefer writing for. I was genuinely interested in seeing what she'd choose. The young adult section at my local Borders is about two stacks full. She wandered around both sides, skimming the spines. On the other side, another girl stood looking pretty much the same way as my cousin.
"Excuse me, sorry to bother you," I told her. "How old are you?"
"13," she said, smiling.
"Is it me, or are you having a hard time finding books about Black teen girls too?" I asked. She smiled even bigger this time and said, "Definitely. There just aren't very many of them at all." She recommended two authors to me. My cousin seconded the girl's statement. For both girls, judging from the books in their hands, they had no problem reading stories with non-"ethnic" main characters, but I know from talking to them and seeing the section with my own eyes that there's a hole--a need--there and it became glaringly obvious to me that night.
The next day I told my friend Sylvia, who is Mexican-American, about my experience and she told me, "You know, I think girls 'of color' like us need fun stories about us doing positive things."
Brianna's picks: The 310: Life as a Poser by Beth Killian, How to Survive Middle School by Rick Bundschuh, Girls Rule by Ashley Rice and a book of poetry, What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones.