The CBC Diversity initiative was founded in 2012, as part of the Children’s Book Council’s commitment to promoting diverse voices in literature for young people. We believe that all children deserve to see their world reflected in the books they read. We recognize that diversity takes on many forms, including differences in race, religion, gender, geography, sexual orientation, class, and ability.
In addition to championing diverse authors and illustrators, CBC Diversity strives to open up the publishing industry to a wider range of employees. We’ve taken an active role in recruiting diverse candidates, participating in school career fairs and partnering with We Need Diverse Books on its summer internship program.
New York, NY – September 28, 2018 – The CBC Diversity Committee is proud to announce
the winners of the inaugural CBC Diversity Outstanding Achievement Awards.These
awards will be given annually to professionals or organizations in the
children’s publishing industry who have made a significant impact on the publishing
and marketing of diverse books, diversity in hiring and mentoring, and efforts
that create greater awareness with the public about the importance of diverse
The winners were announced at the CBC Annual Meeting in New York City
on September 27, and an official ceremony and conversation with the winners
will take place on October 24 at a CBC Forum event. The winners will each
select an organization to receive one thousand dollars’ worth of children’s
books in their name.
Kapadwala, the CBC Diversity Committee’s moderator, said: “The committee had
the great joy and responsibility of reviewing nominations from across the
children’s publishing community. In making their selections, the committee has
summarized the accomplishments of these inspiring people and organizations.”
Candlewick Press sat down with T.R. Simon to discuss her new
book ‘Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground’
CP: How do
the maturing Carrie and Zora see the world differently as they approach their
book two of the Zora and Me trilogy, Zora and Carrie are now twelve going on
thirteen. Although they are still children, they have encountered the sorrow of
death along with the pride and joy that life in Eatonville affords them. What
begins to alter them now is a slowly growing awareness of the past. While
Eatonville could seem idyllic, tucked away from the daily brutality of the Jim
Crow South, it is not free from the shadow of American history, particularly
from the history of slavery. The history of slavery is a hard thing for young
people because it requires them to confront the brutality of hate and the
despair of powerlessness. Zora and Carrie grapple with the conflicted feelings
that learning about Eatonville’s history brings up while simultaneously
realizing that life is necessarily, for good and for bad, informed by the past.
CP: Why did
you choose to tell this book with dual narratives?
struggled with how to powerfully connect the fact of Jim Crow to the
institution of slavery. Ultimately, I decided that the most effective way to do
that was to show them side by side. Reconstruction was the attempt of newly
freed slaves to enact self-determination, and Jim Crow was a formalization of
the backlash to Reconstruction. If you don’t understand how slavery operated
and the ideas of race that made slavery go, you can’t understand Jim Crow as
the logical social extension of that violently inhumane practice.
Every year in May, 20 Hiroshima city employees gather at the
Cenotaph in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. After a moment of silence at 8:15am
(time the bomb was dropped), they begin to remove the 114 leather bound volumes
that now hold over 305,000 handwritten names of each person that was in
Hiroshima that day and has since died (unknown victims also have a dedicated
I think of the compassion and reverence that these employees
hold for the atomic bomb victims. They
use white gloves to carefully remove one volume at a time, place them on a
white sheet, and delicately air them out page by page. After that, they move these registers inside
to be protected from the upcoming humid, rainy season. Lastly, they add the names of Hiroshima
survivors who have passed away within this last year (regardless of where they
were when they died). At the August 6th memorial service, they will
return these volumes to again rest under the protection of the cenotaph arch.
I added my mother’s name to one of those leather-bound
volumes in July 2015, when my husband, daughter and I visited Hiroshima six
months after she passed away. As I stood
in front of the cenotaph, I believed my mom had come full circle. She returned,
in a sense, to her beloved papa, her family, and her friends. And yes, I felt
the pain of the horrific suffering and loss that happened on that very ground,
as well as in the years that followed for the survivors whether physical,
emotional, or both. But, in my heart I also felt the strength of the survivors
like my mom who kept moving forward when the world they knew ceased to exist.
As a longtime autism advocate, I
spend a lot of time thinking about diversity. My son Jake—who’s illustrated two
of my series for Macmillan—is on the autism spectrum and also has a
language-based learning delay, which has made reading especially difficult. But
stories are so important to us that Jake and I found a way to improve his
reading—and to help kids around the world be better readers.
When Jake was in fourth grade and
books started getting harder (i.e., fewer pictures), he decided to draw his
vocabulary words on index cards to learn them. Our garage is filled with boxes
and boxes of these index cards with stick figure drawings illustrating words
like “royalty,” “embarrassed,” and “military.” Friends would see the cards and
laugh at Jake’s cartoons—not only because of his sense of humor but for the spot-on
accuracy of how his drawings illuminated his vocabulary words.
As a novelist, I asked myself the
quintessential writing question: What if?
What if I wrote a novel about a kid who has a difficult time reading but
still loves books and stories? What if Jake illustrated the novel with his stick
figures? What if we could help other reluctant readers in the process of
My son and I collaborated on what
would become My Life As A Book, which
is now a series of seven novels in twenty-six languages. (My Life As A Youtuber is the latest.) It’s not the success of this
middle-grade series that humbles me, however; it’s the can-do attitude of a kid
with special needs taking control of his own learning process.
Over the past seven years, Jake and
I have traveled the country doing author-and-illustrator visits to elementary
and middle schools, talking to students about the different ways people learn. In
our series, our main character is a visual learner, so drawing is the way he
processes information. When Derek reads, he imagines the story as a movie in
his head, the same way experts teach children with reading disabilities to
picture stories. When we visit schools, I’m always amazed at the different ways
people learn: kids with auditory processing issues, children with tactile and
sensory concerns, or some kids who really need infographics to make sense of data.
Diversity of learning is an important topic in education today, one that I’ve
studied firsthand to help Jake make sense of and learn to process information
in his own way. (My path to learning includes copious amounts of coffee and
Having a series that’s a staple in
ESL and Special Ed classes—not to mention enjoyed by neurotypical middle-grade readers
who just want a funny story—thrills me to no end. More important, it’s given my
son purpose, along with a career doing something he loves. Sometimes working
through things that are most difficult for us can lead us to discover not only
solutions to our own obstacles but to other people’s as well. Great job, Jake
Tashjian. You make me proud.
Janet Tashjian is the author of the popular My Life
series including My Life as a Book, My Life as a Stuntboy, My
Life as a Cartoonist, My Life as a Joke, My Life as a Gamer, and My
Life as a Ninja, as well as the Einstein the Class Hamster series,
illustrated by her son, Jake Tashjian. Jake and Janet live in Studio
Why is diversity in
science fiction and fantasy so critical?
I grew up on science fiction and fantasy – Madeline
L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time to The Hobbit to Star Wars, Star Trek,and
Carl Sagan’s amazing show, Cosmos. Science
fiction taught me to imagine big, to envision things beyond my reckoning. It
taught me to dream. But of course, science fiction and fantasy back then didn’t
let me see anyone who looked like me in a central role. As a brown skinned,
immigrant daughter, I loved science fiction and fantasy. But science fiction
and fantasy didn’t really love me back.
I think over the years, we’ve seen a vast improvement in
terms of representation in many genres of children’s fiction. My own kids got
to read a much more diverse array of books than I ever did. But not across all
genres, unfortunately. My son, in particular, was a huge fantasy reader – if
there wasn’t a talking bird, or flying horse, or a wizard in the tale, he
wasn’t having it! Yet, the same gaps in representation I found as a young lover
of science fiction and fantasy are still around 30+ years later. That’s a
problem, because if all books are in the business of building our imaginations,
then sci-fi and fantasy are in the business of building radical imagination. And
if there’s ever been a time during which we need a collective radical
imagination, it’s now. That’s part of the reason I wrote The Serpent’s Secret.
Writing THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD & EVIL series is like running
a fantasy corporation. Six years into writing, five books later, I wake up
every day and juggle over 150 characters, 40 plot lines, and a world so big it
feels like it’s outgrowing my own head. But it’s what I was born to do – write
big worlds and sophisticated stories that can keep up with a clever child’s
But there was something else I was born to do, only I never
thought I’d find an outlet to do it: tell my own story.
And my most personal story is about my grandmother, who
without sounding too crass, was a person far more significant in my life than
my own parents. We shared the same birthday. We both liked gourmet food and
fancy hotels, even if we couldn’t afford them. We both were highly suspicious
of my grandfather. And most of all, we were deeply, deeply unhappy.
But Nani didn’t want me to be. And something about my own
unhappiness made her intolerant of her own.
Mike Mullin, author of Surface Tension, shares his book list “Books for Teens Featuring African-American Protagonists.” Check out the preview below and the full list & 5 book giveaway on the Multicultural Children’s Book Day website.
1. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
I first read this novel the same year I first saw Star Wars, when I was ten or eleven. Both experiences linger in my memory nearly 40 years later. It wasn’t the first time I’d read books with Black protagonists (that would be Ezra Jack Keats’ brilliant picture books), but it was the first time I’d read about the brutality of racism. Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry is set in 1930’s Mississippi—Taylor sets the scene so well that by the time you’re done reading you’ll be able to taste the rust-colored dust of the dirt roads.
Cassie is an indomitable heroine. Every time I read her story, I alternate between feeling terror and elation as she confronts everything from racist insults to horrific threats against her person. But the true brilliance of the novel is the theme of fire running throughout it, beginning with the horribly burnt body of Mr. Berry and ending with a forest fire—it serves as a stark metaphor for the all-consuming nature of racism. [chapter book, ages 11 and up]
2. M.C. Higgins the Great by Virginia Hamilton
I think I loved this book because I identified so strongly with the protagonist: Mayo Cornelius Higgins, a brainy, disaffected young man who watches the world from atop a 40’ steel pole. Like M.C., I climbed everything in sight. (Trees, buildings… I never had a 40’ pole, but I have no doubt I would have tried to climb it. My favorite place was a tree covered in vines—I could climb up, stick my head out the top, and gaze over what looked like a leafy meadow suspended 60’ above the ground.) I also identified with the alliance M.C. builds with his neighbors, the light-skinned, red-headed Killburns. I never tried to build a wall with the Black kids who lived next door to me—Mark, Todd, and Glen—but we did build some wicked BMX ramps together! Years after I first read M.C. Higgins the Great, I met Virginia Hamilton and she signed a copy for me. I wish I’d bought a hardcover, but at that point I was in college and nearly broke. I also wish my handwriting were half as lovely as hers:
If you enjoy M.C. Higgins the Great, don’t miss The Planet of Junior Brown and The House of Dies Drear, my other favorite Hamilton novels. [chapter book, ages 11 and up]
3. Monster by Walter Dean Myers
I could have put lots of Myers books on this list, but this is the one that haunted my dreams for months after I read it. The protagonist, Steve, is facing 25-years to life for a crime he didn’t commit. Myers tells the story entirely through diary entries and a screenplay Steve is writing. But the real story here is Steve’s inner battle, as he struggles to reject the label society has already branded him with: Monster. [young adult, ages 13 and up]
Eric and Natalie Yoder, authors of Short Mysteries You Solve With Math, share their book list “
Middle Grade Spanish/English Bilingual Books.” Check out the preview below and the full list on the Multicultural Children’s Book Day website.
1. One Minute Mysteries: Short Mysteries You Solve With Math/Misterios de un Minuto: Misterios Cortos Que Resuelves con Matematicas by Eric Yoder & Natalie Yoder
Now you can solve mysteries in English, Spanish or both! This award-winning title is now available as a bilingual book. Use it to expand your language and math skills at the same time. Each math mystery takes just one minute to read, and challenges a child’s knowledge in essential, age-appropriate math topics. [chapter book, ages 10 and up]
2. Cool Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Growing Up Latino in the United States edited by Lori Marie Carlson
Growing up Latino in America means speaking two languages, living two lives, learning the rules of two cultures. This book of poetry celebrates the tones, rhythms, sounds, and experiences of that double life. Here are poems about families and parties, insults and sad memories, hot dogs and mangos. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]
3. In My Family/En mi familia by Carmen Lomas Garza
This book is a tribute to the family and community that shaped the author’s childhood and life. Lomas Garza’s vibrant paintings and warm personal stories depict memories of growing up in the traditional Mexican-American community of her hometown of Kingsville, Texas. [chapter book, ages 6 and up]
Yehudi Mercado, author of Sci-Fu, shares a graphic novel list recommended by characters from his book Sci-Fu. Check out the preview below and the full list on the Multicultural Children’s Book Day website.
1. Wax’s pick
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 3: Stardust Crusaders by Hirohiko Araki
Wax is all about music. It’s the life force that flows through him. I imagine he would really tear into an action-packed manga about a troubled kid who thinks he’s possessed with a demon, but it turns out to be a superpower called “A Stand.” Many characters are named after famous musicians like Ronnie James Dio, Iggy Pop and Terrence Trent Darby. [graphic novel, ages 14 and up]
2. Pirate Polly’s pick
A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Madeleine L’Engle and Hope Larson
Pirate Polly would have resisted reading A Wrinkle in Time, thinking was for too cool for it, but as soon she opened this dimension-bending epic about a troubled tween searching for her scientist father through space and time, she was hooked. [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
3. Cooky P’s pick
Jake the Fake Keeps it Real Hardcover by Craig Robinson and Adam Mansbach, illustrated by Keith Knight
Cooky P knows he’s not the smartest (like D), or the coolest (like Pirate Polly), or the most talented (like Wax), so he would relate to the middle-grader who fakes his way into an elite music and arts magnet school. [notebook novel, ages 8 and up]