Why did We Need Diverse Books develop the OurStory app?
As members of the We Need Diverse Books team traveled across the country to conferences and book festivals, they spoke with librarians, teachers, educators, parents, and kids and heard a common theme — diverse books were hard to find. OurStory seeks to answer that problem. We created a tool that highlights books with diverse content and by marginalized content creators.
How does OurStory work?
Simply go to the OurStory site on your computer or mobile device and login with Facebook, Twitter, or Gmail. Choose a subscription-level based on the WNDB perks you want (eg. downloadable bookmarks/graphics, special content and videos from your favorite authors, and much much more) and get access to different cool perks every month. You can also discover the perfect window or mirror book, curated and selected by WNDB just for you, and purchase books through the app. Every time you use OurStory, you are supporting WNDB programs, and every time you read, share, or buy a book you discovered, you are encouraging creators and publishers to make more diverse books!
What is a “window” book or a “mirror” book?
The wonderful librarian Rudine Sims Bishop coined the terms “window” and “mirror” books in a powerful article. She believed books could provide mirrors for children to see themselves and their culture reflected back in the pages. She discussed how books could give children access or a “window” into other people’s experiences.
What’s the difference between OurStory and OurStoryPro?
OurStory is aimed at kids, teens and parents to help them discover new books with diverse content and from content creators from marginalized communities using a fun quiz. It will also offer cool content perks from their favorite authors.
OurStoryPro is aimed at teachers, librarians, and educators to help them discover new books with diverse content and from content creators from marginalized communities for their classrooms and patrons using a reader’s advisory quiz. It will also provide WNDB curriculum and material perks.
Why does OurStory utilize a quiz function?
We thought a quiz would be a fun way to discover books and lead readers to new titles.
Why does OurStory have a subscription cost?
OurStory is a tool for the We Need Diverse Books nonprofit to help fund its programs and further its important mission. A subscription to OurStory will help We Need Diverse Books run its major programs: mentorships, internships, WNDB in the Classroom, WNDB in Libraries, the WALTER Award, and the WALTER Grants for unpublished writers.
How do you find the books you include in the database?
We use many sources, from personal reading to publisher catalogs to professional review magazines to book review sites to social media, to keep abreast about titles that may fit with our mission. We are always happy to take suggestions or be notified about books we may have missed by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, but due to volume, we cannot respond to individual recommendations or guarantee placement in OurStory.
Do you read the books before you put them in the database?
Yes! At least one member of our OurStory app team, and usually a few, have read each and every book you’ll find in OurStory. This ensures that we have a full understanding of the content.
So if a book is in this database, it has a WNDB stamp of approval?
OurStory is not a literary award, starred selection list, or book review source. Books are vetted and considered for problematic content, and we decline to put books in the app at our own discretion. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a 100% perfect, unproblematic book. We have chosen these books because we think that overall, they have more to recommend them than they do problematic elements, but this is something every reader should determine for themselves. We suggest that if you find a book that has a problematic, troubling, or offensive element, teachers and librarians use those texts as teaching tools to explore issues such as institutional racism, hurtful language, etc. Helping young people become critical, thoughtful readers is as important as finding great titles for them to discover in the first place.
Who reads the books?
OurStory has a team of volunteer readers that consist of librarians, teachers, educators, book lovers, and members of We Need Diverse BooksTM. Our readers have a variety of identities, life experience, academic and professional expertise to draw on as they assess books that they read.
Are there books in other languages in OurStory?
At this time, there are books that are bilingual (English/second language). We do not currently have the capacity to read and assess books that are not written in or translated to English..
Are there self-published books in OurStory?
We recognize that because of structural and institutional challenges and privileges at play, self-publishing has long been a world where marginalized voices not picked up by the traditional publishing industry can find audiences. We absolutely respect the hard work and resolve these authors put into producing high quality books for young readers, and we will accept self-published books for OurStory at our discretion.
However, there is already quite a large field of traditionally published books for us to work through before we even get to this additional field. For this reason, we consider self-published book suggestions only if they are accompanied by a link to a professional review (for self-published authors, Kirkus is one professional review magazine that will accept self-published books for a fee) or with links to three reviews by highly visible book bloggers. After receiving those suggestions, our above selection policy applies, and we make no guarantees as to whether a book will be added to our database.
I’m a public librarian inside a large library system and want to use OurStoryPro. Where is the district-wide licensing option?
OurStoryPublic is in the works. You have not been forgotten!
I can’t use my phone during the day at school or in my library to take advantage of OurStory with my students.
OurStory is available in website format for desktops and laptops as well as on mobile devices.