I’m sure your book is lovely.
But before you ask me why I didn’t include your favorite book in an article on Books For Littles (BFL), let’s brush up on our policies. Particularly for those of you who are new to BFL and unfamiliar with what we do.
If you are thin skinned, you look at this adorable picture of a cat, then immediately leave. Close the browser window while you still feel warm and fuzzy.
Still with me? For newbies, an introduction:
This is not a mommy blog. THIS IS A MOVEMENT.
The BFL community is not here to indulge your ego. WE ARE HERE TO SMASH THE KYRIARCHY.
Does your favorite book align with our community values? Do the makers hold themselves accountable for the full impact of their work? Does sharing and boosting this book adhere to the following policies?
Books For Littles Review Policy
Not for the faint & fragile.
Is your goal to raise kind and brilliant kids?
I am not here to sell books.
My singular goal is to raise a kinder, more compassionate generation of leaders. Many of our readers live below the poverty line and can’t afford to buy books. While a very small percentage of our support comes from affiliate links, most of our readers are steadfast library fans.
While it does occasionally happen, you are unlikely to see a bump in book sales after being featured on BFL. When we’re in cahoots, everything goes above-board with transparency. Our goal is to dismantle the kyriarchy, not placate the status quo.
Is your representation intersectionally responsible?
Our standards for the books we feature approach topics through a intersectional and destigmatizing lens.
I ask that you see if your work aligns with the radically progressive BFL statement of values before we waste each other’s time, but no one ever bothers clicking that.
I’ll make this easy: I don’t have patience for erasure, reinforcing unjust systemic discrimination, and half-assed work. Here is a non-exhaustive list of bullshit stories I have no time for:
- Bland and didactic shelf filler that doesn’t engage readers.
- Says nothing new, nothing progressive, and reinforces the dominant narrative.
- Reinforces a binary of good/evil, inferior/superior.
- Relies on stereotypes (in message and/or illustration), reductivism, an tokenism.
- Saviorism, whitewashing, whataboutism.
- Erases power dynamics, the impact or effects of bias and discrimination.
- Glorifies systems of the kyriarchy (white/wealthy/non-disabled/male/etc. supremacy) without addressing complex issues.
- Tells kids from marginalized groups to pick themselves up by their bootstraps while erasing the systemic forces that make survival for them exponentially more difficult.
- Attempts to lift one targeted group at the expense of another.
- Unengaging, sloppy, unpolished, or meh illustrations that turn kids off. I make allowances for untrained illustrators, but illustrations have a profound effect on engaging kids. Kids’ joy is worth the effort and there are plenty of highly skilled #OwnVoices illustrators who deserve to be paid for their magic.
- Lies: Example: “You can do anything you set your mind to!” (This is erasive, and it’s bullshit.)
- Design, layout, copy, story lines, and illustration that condescend to children as if the books they consume have less value than literature for adults. This includes low-quality books that makers clearly didn’t put any effort into to create
Is your book engaging for kids under age 7?
Parents have a limited number of minutes before our kids leave the nest. Reading crap books is a waste of our precious time.
Boring books make kids resent the subject matter for months or years afterward. Given that we mainly focus on marginalized identities – this is actively dangerous.
Boring, sloppily researched, and poorly-executed books are dangerous, and do active harm.
Our target age range is for 0-7, with a heavy emphasis on clarity since many of our readers are neurodiverse. Artful metaphor is fine, traumatic topics are fine, stories that rip our hearts out are fine.
But you must tailor your stories to be cognitively-age-appropriate.
Books must be fun to read aloud, and must say something new (or in a new way) that we can’t find anywhere else.
There are many, many cash-grab filler books that clog our shelves and eat our limited energy and mental bandwidth. The work I do researching, analyzing, screening, and curating books is a shield that protects the spoons, time, and energy of our readers.
Are you complicit in white supremacy, the patriarchy, ableism, etc. and willing to acknowledge it?
The answer is yes – we all are, including myself.
I try to be kind and generous with your intentions, but I’m on a mission to raise kind kids and smash the kyriarchy. Impact matters more than intent, and I have no patience for subtle forms of supremacy, intentional or unintentional.
If your work exemplifies problematic issues within our culture (all of them do) in a particularly poignant way, I may use your book as an example in unpacking this. The point of BFL is to teach readers how to discuss and dismantle systemic oppression. That means we need to acknowledge and learn from our own biases, which requires courage, risk, and dealing with our own fragility.
Do you value and accept my limited time, lived experience, professional expertise, and human limits?
Because I analyze hundreds of books each month and can only feature so many, I can’t guarantee that your work will be featured within a certain time frame, or at all. If you want me to write about a specific book, or explain why your fave is problematic, you are going to need to be patient and accept that I probably won’t get to it.
In fact I rip most books that authors send me to shreds (HOW ARE YOU FINDING MY EMAIL. BTW?!)
Even if you can sneak your book into my field of view, I’m more likely NOT to feature it here ’cause you clogged up on inbox. Particularly if its within the 90% of books that fall into The Voids of Meh:
Books That Fall Into The Voids Of Meh:
- It just a LITTLE problematic (which ALL books are, from some perspective,)
- It’s underwhelming and says something that’s already been said by a better book (which 99% of books are.)
- It isn’t about a topic we’re covering right now (be prepared to wait, since we pick a new theme each month.)
- I hate your book, but like you as a person and don’t want to hurt your feelings.
Are you willing to follow brutally honest, ethical guidelines?
I disclose whether I got free review copies, whether makers or publishers are Patreon supporters, and whether posts are paid or sponsored.
If you are asking for more than just consideration, you will need to compensate me for my time, expertise, and labor. Yes – even though I’m a disabled person of color. We too, have to pay for toothpaste and food. Need my 1-on-1 attention? You can reserve (and pay for) my time and labor right here.
My work is grassroots and reader-funded on Patreon. Because consulting is an exclusive perk I offer for our Illuminati-level tiers, I can’t offer editing, private reviews, sensitivity reading, marketing advice, or 1-on-1 help as a reward for lower tiers, or for a free review copy.
If you need personal advice or your book is in-progress, I suggest sending it to a professional #OwnVoices editor or consultant. (Pay them. This is a lot of work.) Not your friends and family – forcing a loved one to tell you your book sucks is a cruel position to put them in.
Are you an #OwnVoices author?
According to the interwebs, #OwnVoices was coined by writer Corinne Duyvis.
I weigh my books toward authors with lived experience, and a book has to be spectacular or include something I can’t find anywhere else to break through that barrier.
If your work is revolutionary, amazing, full of respectful representation, and something our community has been searching for, I may feature you in a Maker Spotlight, with your permission. This rarely happens.
Sending a free book, supporting BFL on Patreon, or me thinking you are a lovely person does not guarantee you will be featured on the website. You cannot pay to be featured on a Maker Spotlight.