|KC Boyd, Warrioress Librarian|
I have mixed feelings about the current state of Street Lit. On one hand, I’m happy to see more authors writing within the genre and producing some great work. Some authors are so successful, they now have a strong following and book series have been created by their publishing houses. There is also an increase of books that are now professionally reviewed. YALSA has included a number of these books on their Quick Pick lists and there is a strong online community that supports and advocates for the use of these books in the classroom and school library. Major publishing houses have taken note of this interest and are now publishing more novels, more frequently.
On the other hand, I’ve seen a great deal of ‘garbage’ that has been marketed as Street Lit. Since the recent explosion of Young Adult fiction in school libraries, many books have been labeled Street Lit and published solely for financial gain. It is my professional opinion that these books do not capture the true essence of the genre which is an authentic fictional account of street life.
Another trend I’ve been observing is some Librarians/Teachers are mistakenly labeling books with African-American kids on the cover as ‘Street Lit’ when these books are not. For example, Simone Bryant’s ‘Fabulous’ is the story of three upper class teens that attend Pace Academy, wear designer clothing and are chauffeured around town in luxury vehicles. This is a story that provides teens readers with a story of a group and class of people that are rarely seen in YA Fiction. In addition, after viewing a very long conversation thread about Street Lit on the YALSA listserv, I’ve come to the conclusion that some Librarians and Teachers have not educated themselves fully about the genre, yet they are promoting the books heavily. Finally, I still see a level of censorship against Street Lit taking place by librarians and Teachers.
StreetLiteratureBlog: What do you anticipate Street Lit will look like say, 2 years from now? 5 years from now?
I believe Street Lit will continue to grow in popularity and the genre will gain more respect within the literary community. Schools will adapt more books within the genre as classroom and whole school reads. More financial effort will be made by publishing houses to market these books through book trailers, and other online media. Lastly, these books will finally receive more award recognition of various ALA book awards such as the Coretta Scott King Award, Printz and Alex Awards.
K.C.’s Top 10 Young Adult/Adult Street Lit Books with a Message:
1. Monster by Walter Dean Myers**
2. Tyrell by Coe Booth**
3. Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown*
4. The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah*
5. True to the Game Trilogy by Teri Woods*
6. Keysha’s Drama Series by Earl Sewell**
7. Damaged by Kia DuPree*
8. Ni-Ni Simone Series by Ni-Ni Simone**
9. Gangsta by K’wan*
10.Retaliation by Yasmin Shiraz**
Note: *Adult **Young Adult
K.C. Boyd is currently a high school Librarian with the Chicago Public Schools at the Wendell Phillips Academy High School, in the Brownsville neighborhood of Chicago, IL. The Phillips Academy High School is part of the Academy of Urban School Leadership Program within the Chicago Public School system. Mr. Terrance A. Little, Principal of the Phillips Academy, was recently featured as a stellar educator in the February 7, 2011, issue of The New York Times.
You can contact KC on Twitter, and on her blog, Miss Domino.