We Need Diverse Books Announces Incorporation as a Non-Profit & Inaugural Advisory Board

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Compiled by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Grassroots organization files for incorporation as a non-profit organization in the state of Pennsylvania, and welcomes its first advisory board members, authors Grace Lin, Jacqueline Woodson, Matt de la Peña, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and Cindy Pon

New York City, NY: More than just a hashtag, We Need Diverse Books is a grassroots organization created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature.

We Need Diverse Books is committed to the ideal that embracing diversity will lead to acceptance, empathy, and ultimately equality. Its mission is to promote or amplify diversification efforts and increase visibility for diverse books and authors, with a goal of empowering a wide range of readers in the process.

In order to accomplish its mission, We Need Diverse Books reaches out to individuals and groups involved in many levels of children’s publishing—including but not limited to publishers, authors, distributors, booksellers, librarians, educators, parents, and students.

“Incorporating will give us the legitimacy and standing we need to move forward with our mission,” says Lamar Giles, VP of Communications. “We have many exciting projects in the works.”

In addition to a Diversity Festival planned for 2016, We Need Diverse Books plans to initiate a grant program to support diverse authors, bring Diversity into the Classroom with collaborations with First Book and the National Education Association, and develop a “diversity toolkit” for librarians and booksellers.

Ellen Oh

Inaugural advisory board members includes Grace Lin, Jacqueline Woodson, Matt de la Peña, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and Cindy Pon.

“Each of these members has a history of advocating for diverse books, and is a pioneer in the field of children’s literature. They will not only increase our visibility as an organization, but light the way going forward,” said Ellen Oh, President of We Need Diverse Books.

On the heels of its enormously successful panel at the inaugural Book Con, the We Need Diverse Books team has been invited by the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) to present the first ever diverse author signing and reception, and present panels at the Baltimore Book Festival, National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the American Library Association (ALA), and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), among others.

Cynsational Notes

New Board Member — Cynthia Leitich Smith

Diversity Movement Gains Visibility at ALA Annual by Wendy Stephens from School Library Journal. Peek: “If you ran into a youth services librarian at the American Library Association (ALA) Conference in Las Vegas (June 26-July1), odds were good that they were sporting a colorful ‘We Need Diverse Books’ button. That recent campaign harnessed the collective power of social media to highlight the need for more resources depicting a range of cultures and experiences.”

We Need Diverse Books to Launch a Diversity in the Classroom Initiative from Children’s Book Council. Peek: “Every month, students will explore a diverse author’s book. These readers will then be treated to a visit from the author (in-person or through Skype) to have a discussion.”

In Public Schools, White Students Are No Longer the Majority by Janell Ross and Peter Bell from The Atlantic. Peek: “U.S. classrooms will enter a new era this fall—one in which black, Hispanic, and Asian students form the majority.”

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