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.
I had the fortune and misfortune of being born into a family
that overflows with mental illness.
I say fortune
because my family has provided me with some of the most colorful characters
I’ve ever met. They’ve raised me, shaped me, influenced and inspired me.
I say misfortune
because I don’t know anyone who would choose mental illness. I don’t know
anyone who would say, “Hey, I’d sure like to be depressed and anxious, throw in
some paranoia and addiction, and I’m good to go.”
I was an anxious child. But I didn’t know that word. Depression and anxiety weren’t common terms in the 1960s. And they certainly
weren’t words that were taught to children. Armed now with hindsight and life
experience, I can see how anxiety was always there. My mom said I was “tightly
wound,” and I remember that whenever I stayed up too late or did too many
things, I would break down by vomiting. While I didn’t have panic attacks,
there were a few episodes when everyone’s voices would suddenly speed up and
the world seemed to be going too fast. My heart would race. I’d find a quiet
corner and sit until it passed.
Like many editors I have a predilection for order, efficiency, and systems. That’s the polite way of putting it. Significant others and family members have at times used descriptors such as anal retentive or obsessive. Point taken. Whatever your word choice, these qualities have served me well in my profession. But beneath these types of endearing quirks (again, the polite label) often lurks a root cause: anxiety.
I come by my anxiety in the most honest way possible—genetics. Go up the family tree a branch or two and you’ll find hospitalizations, shock therapy, alcoholism, panic attacks, and lots of list-making in really tiny handwriting. Fortunately, all that got watered down by the time my X chromosomes paired up, but I would still say that I was an anxious child. I clearly remember standing in my grandmother’s yard at the age of maybe four, pensively noting that life used to be so much easier. Ah, to be a world-weary preschooler.
Over time I learned effective coping techniques, and now my anxiety is simply a part of me that minimally affects my quality of life. But as a young child, I had no words for what I felt, and I had no basis for comparison. I had the sense that other people didn’t feel like I did, and that made me wonder whether something was wrong with me. Mostly I just had no idea what to do with my feelings and lived with a degree of discomfort on a daily basis. I compensated in other ways—I liked routine, I avoided risks and changes, and I became an overachiever and people-pleaser.