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.
Last summer, I traveled to Tanzania to take
photographs. In February, I followed my
camera to Toronto. This was my first visit to Canada. It was a wonderful
experience dotted with several visits to Tim Hortons.
When I traveled to Tanzania, I took photographs for stories
that had not been written. There was no way the authors I work with could know
what stories I would find. This time, I had stories that were already written,
so I had specific photos that I needed to take. One of the authors I work with
had spent two weeks last July at the Toronto Summer Institute. This international annual event focuses on
the inclusion of individuals with disabilities. While she was at the institute
she discovered two wonderful stories.
Last month I wrote an article for this site, discussing my
experience photographing children with special needs and my upcoming trip to
photograph children in Tanzania. International
travel, two words that appear exciting, exotic, and luxurious, are in
reality about spending hours wedged between strangers. It is neither exciting,
exotic, nor even the slightest bit luxurious. After landing in a different
hemisphere, the excitement starts to build again. I’m not sure what I expected
to see in Tanzania, but I was surprised to see fields of corn. As a
Midwesterner, I’m well versed in fields of corn and found it very welcoming.
What made it exotic was seeing palm trees growing next to the corn. Fields, mountains,
plains, rainforests, and beaches met to make picture perfect views.
Cameras are magic. By capturing a moment in time, cameras
give us the ability to explore actions and emotions in a way that we cannot in
another medium. Each time I look through a lens, my perception of the world is
altered. I can see and photograph something large, magnificent, like a sunset
or something smaller, poignant, like a smile. Perception is a funny thing, it
can change big things to become more accessible and alter smaller things to
become more meaningful. In the instant a photograph is taken, a person is at
their most vulnerable because a camera will show only the truth. Every emotion,
from frustration to triumph, sadness to joy, is seen through the lenses of my
Children in particular express each emotion clearly. I’ve
photographed everything from weddings to landscapes, but working with children
and their families has been the most rewarding. Through previous work, I was
asked to photograph children that have special needs for a Finding My Way Books
series, true stories that highlight inclusion and self-determination. I am
fortunate to use my art to support diversity and literacy.
Contributed by Vera
Lynne Stroup-Rentier, Ph.D., Author
Public Law 99-457 passed in
1986, amending the Education of the Handicapped Act and requiring states to provide
appropriate and free public education to children with disabilities ages 3
through 5. Shortly after the implementation of this law began in 1991, I was
fortunate enough to work with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in
Washington, D.C. As one of the few white women on staff, I learned much about
diversity and disability. However, the lessons I learned often left me dismayed
about how society represented each and every child. I learned one such lesson when
I wanted to find dolls that the children and I could wash together in the water
table. I liked this activity because I could talk to children about the
different aspects of the dolls, like skin color. I went in search of black
dolls for the water table because the children in my class were black and
Hispanic. I rarely had a white student in my class. I went to store after store
after store looking for dolls. There were white babies everywhere but no black
or Hispanic babies. I finally found a catalog I could order them from but could
not get over that fact that dolls of other races were not available in stores. These
were the same stores my students’ families shopped in every week.