Nikki Garcia, Assistant Editor,
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
There are a lot of well-meaning people in publishing who
work hard to create more diversity in books. But unfortunately there can also be
times when excuses are made for not highlighting diversity through books:
*There isn’t enough of an audience to buy these books.
“Some women writers are better represented in print in terms of race, gender identity, sexual identity and ability than others. This closer look enables us to ask why some are underrepresented.” via vidaweb.org
Walter Grant – Submission Guidelinesweneeddiversebooks.org
Named in honor of the late author and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, the Walter Dean Myers Grant will be given to five unpublished authors from non-majority backgrounds, who shine the light on diversity in their writing. @weneeddiversebooks
No Monkey Business: Curious George Celebrates Ramadan
Hena Khan, Author
Like countless Americans, I grew up loving Curious George
and his antics—swallowing a puzzle piece, painting a jungle scene on a wall,
and flying on a bunch of balloons. And when I had children of my own, I happily
reread the classic stories with them, along with a collection of new adventures
for George at the library, the chocolate factory, and more. It was exciting for
me to watch my sons develop the same appreciation for the mischievous little monkey
that I have and to observe how truly timeless he is.
At Inaugural Walter Award Honorees Ask Industry To Make Change Happen And Encourage Diverse Readersforbes.com
The inaugural Walter Awards were presented by We Need Diverse BooksTM at a ceremony at the Library of Congress on March 28. Named in honor of the late author and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Walter Dean Myers, the awards are given in recognition of diverse children’s books.
Publicity Assistant at Simon & Schuster Children’s Books
I’m from a South Asian immigrant family. For my traditional
parents, a woman’s ultimate end goal should be getting married and taking care
of a family. It’s no surprise that I don’t share this exclusive view, and I
credit reading with helping me understand a culture I didn’t experience at
home. I learned about things like the kinds of foods that were eaten for dinner
or lunch; the different types of relationships between children and their
parents; and social interactions and phrases more commonly used in mainstream
Western culture. Though it was extremely hard to find Indian characters to
relate to in the books I read throughout my academic career, it was literature that
would help me understand the world around me.
It became more evident to me that I wanted to work with
books—but the question was how. When I finally connected the fact that the
little logos on the spine of my books stood for publishing houses and that
there were actual people who worked to bring books out into the world, I
decided I wanted to pursue publishing. Deciding was one thing, but pursuing was
an arduous path.
Kate Sullivan, Senior Editor at Delacorte Press
These days, many working in the industry have
heard the news and are on board with the mission: it’s time to diversify the
book market. Publishing is an ecosystem, and every level needs to be committed
to making changes if this mission is to succeed.
As an editor, I think a lot about my piece in this effort, and I’m avidly
watching what other editors are doing to make it happen. Recently, some
conversations I had on Twitter surrounding #ownvoices and #Dvpit made me reflect
about blind spots that even the best intentioned ally or advocate editors
have—including myself—and I want to share those revelations so that we can keep
pushing the efforts forward.
I know many editors who are ready for change, and
are embracing it. They’re calling to the heavens, to Twitter, lunching agents,
asking and begging for more diverse submissions. And… honestly, we haven’t been
super successful yet. At least, I know I’m not the only one discouraged by the limited
progress. Some authors of color or marginalized voices are getting bigger and
better book deals but not enough. I’m seeing more books that feature characters
of different ethnicities or backgrounds and sexualities, and fantasies inspired
by different cultures, but most of them aren’t written by diverse authors. It’s
progress of a sort, but we need to push further and do better.