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 was my first real publishing internship. I had
interned at a literary journal and a creative writing center, but my time at
Candlewick really gave me a complete idea of what the book industry is like.
The people who work at Candlewick truly do their best to help make themselves
available to you, even for something as simple as chatting over a cup of
coffee. The entire office environment is friendly; it felt so nice to be
surrounded by people who are just as passionate about children’s literature as
Through the warm and friendly publicity team I learned
industry lingo I had never heard of, enhanced skills that were previously
mediocre, and gained knowledge about different facets of the book world.
Another fun part of the internship was the “Books We’re Reading” board, which
is exclusively for the awesome people who make up Candlewick’s Publicity and
Marketing department. The board is a fun way to get book recommendations, start
a conversation about what others are reading, and is a cool way for interns to
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.
Tell us about your most recent
book and how you came to write/illustrate it.
My debut novel is Children of Blood and Bone and it comes
out on March 6th, 2018. From a creative standpoint, I came to write
it by discovering the orisha—West African deities—through a stroke of luck while
on a fellowship in Brazil. This gave me the idea for CBB after I discovered a
digital painting two years later that gave me the inspiration for the
characters and events in the story. From a professional standpoint, I came to
write CBB after the first book I tried to get published went nowhere, but
solidified for me that I would be most happy writing full-time. Additionally, I
was heavily influenced by the tragedy of police brutality and felt compelled to
say something about it through my work.
Do you think of yourself as a
Yes because I’m black and
Nigerian-American, and my diverse background has a big impact on what I write,
why I write, and the way I write.
Sonia Patel, author of Jaya and Rasa: A Love Story, shares her book list “Sexual Violence Diversity Books for Young Adults.” Check out the preview below and the full list & 5 book giveaway on the Multicultural Children’s Book Day website.
1. Rani Patel In Full Effect by Sonia Patel
My debut novel is about how a Gujarati Indian American teen growing up on the rural Hawaiian island of Molokai uses her love for hip hop and rap to navigate the emotional and interpersonal sequalae of incest and rape. The main character, Rani, is based on a mix of my experiences, those of patients I’ve treated and girls/women I’ve known. [young adult, ages 13 and up]
2. Jaya and Rasa: A Love Story by Sonia Patel
My second novel is about the love the grows between a transgender Gujarati Indian boy and a sex trafficked mixed ethnicity girl after their chance meeting on a mountain trail in Hawaii. Both characters are based on amalgams of real patients I’ve treated and their experiences. [young adult, ages 13 and up]
3. Push by Sapphire
I love the main character in this book, a black teenager growing up in Harlem. Her story is brutal and realistic. I’ve heard similar stories in my work as a child & adolescent psychiatrist. [young adult, ages 13 and up]
Read the full list and enter the 5 book giveaway here.
Duncan Tonatiuh, author of Danza!: Amalia Hernandez and Mexico’s Folkloric Ballet, shares his picture book list of “Bold, Creative Girls and Women.” Check out the preview below and the full list on the Multicultural Children’s Book Day website.
1. Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael López
This book is based on the story of Millo Castro, a young girl who pursued her dream of playing the drums at a time when girls in Cuba where not supposed to. Engles verses and López’s illustrations add magic to this inspirational story. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
2. Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
This fun book in rhymes is about a young girl who gets into a bit of trouble investigating the cause of a mysterious pungent smell. Ada does not give up on her inquiry though because she has the mind and determination of a scientist. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
3. Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same by Grace Lin
This fun book about two Chinese-American twin sisters is broken up into six short stories that connect at the end. It is a great read for beginning readers. [easy reader, ages 5 and up]
My mission as an author is to mine the past for family
stories, fading traditions and forgotten struggles. Add to that unsung heroes.
When my friend and frequent collaborator Eric Velasquez pitched the idea of a
Schomburg biography to me, I was intrigued. Like Schomburg, Eric has roots in
Africa and Puerto Rico. I detected Eric’s passion for the project and I could
not refuse. I believe this is the book that Eric was born to create. Even
though the book had a ten year gestation, I am honored that Eric asked me to
collaborate. This is our fifth book together.
When did you first learn about Schomburg?
I knew of the Schomburg Center before I knew about the
man behind it. I did picture research there in the early 1980s. That was long
before there were digital archives online. Back then, I had to wear white
gloves to handle vintage photographs. I recall being in awe of the Center’s
vast holdings. What I did not know is that Schomburg the man was a bibliophile
and a leading light of the Harlem Renaissance, a period I first wrote about in Sugar
Hill: Harlem’s Historic Neighborhood. That picture book isillustrated
by Gregory Christie.
1) Why do you think there’s such a dearth of diverse children’s books?
In a couple of words: white supremacy. The
fact that there are more books published about animals than about black kids
says a lot, not only about our
society, but about “Western” sensibilities and colonization on the whole. About
the perception of “race” and the role of literacy in the development of
societal hierarchies. The English staked their claim on land in various places
around the world and forced the people in those places to learn the English
language, but literature and the arts were reserved for members of the highest
social classes. Who were all white.
The fact that we’re almost two decades into
the 21st Century and just now
beginning to see books written in English that reflect the realities of the
English-speaking world says a lot about who, historically, has been expected—or
even allowed—to achieve English
literacy. When all the business-related rhetoric is stripped away (“Those types
of books statistically don’t sell well.” “The numbers don’t suggest that this
would be a good investment.”), the implications are that 1) certain groups of
people don’t read and 2) the people who do
read wouldn’t want to read about x-type of people. The marginalized wind up
doubting the validity of their very existence, and the privileged continue to
see themselves as the protagonists of the only stories that matter. I’m sure I
don’t have to explain why this is detrimental to everyone.
I discovered the joys of theater in middle school for a sad
but simple reason: I was quitting dance. At the age of twelve, I was told by my
teacher that I couldn’t continue at an advanced level without losing a
significant amount of weight. The issue of body policing in the performing arts
comes up in my YA novel Echo After Echo,
specifically for the main character, Zara, who is not the waifish ingénue
people have come to expect. Fortunately, when I chose to leave dance behind, I
fell into theater, and despite being a different body type than many of my
fellow actresses, I found roles and fell in love with acting.
My new life of green rooms and backstage bonding brought my
first queer friends. It’s no real secret that the theater world, from the
professional stages in NYC to the drama clubs in most schools are havens for
creative and hardworking LGBTQIAP folks. Before I even knew I was queer, I
found my people, and they shared my fervor for story-making, a heady mix of
love and ambition that still drives me. We collected, we rehearsed, we
constructed sets with questionable structural integrity, we held our hearts
outside of our bodies night after night, we threw AMAZING cast parties.