FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Seventeen Talented Creative Voices Named 2022 We Need Diverse Books Mentees
January 20, 2022
Washington, DC — After combing through hundreds of manuscripts and portfolios for the 2022 We Need Diverse Books Mentorship Program, the committee and mentors have made their winning selections. This is the largest cohort since the inception of the Mentorship Program.
The reader teams also noted many remarkable applications, naming over sixty finalists across the categories. The seventeen creators selected to receive a year-long mentorship include: Alana Ladson, Ariana Padron, and Gabriela Vega (Illustration); Remi Kathawa, Ashley Murray, Jane Palmer, and Melanie Singer (Picture Book); Kris Fields, Madhuri Mukhtyar Messenger, Crystal Roget, Rita D. Russell, and Maureen Tai (Middle Grade); and Alexandra Bazrafshan, Marianna Leal, Meg Rao, Silvia Rodriguez Kembel, and Elle Zhang (Young Adult). Photos and bios of the mentees and their mentors are available online.
“This year, the Mentorship Program has expanded more than ever before,” said Program Manager Alaina Lavoie. “This is my first year with the program that our co-chairs, Miranda Paul and Meg Cannistra, have created with a goal of mentoring emerging authors and illustrators so that their careers blossom. Returning mentors have asked to come back because they found working with their mentees to be incredibly rewarding, and former mentees are now coming on as mentors after several book deals. Their enthusiasm to participate shows the strength and impact of this incredible program.”
The We Need Diverse Books Mentorship Program has now awarded over 85 twelve-month mentorships since the first round of applications were received in 2015. Current and former recipients have gone on to publish or contract over 70 books for children and teens. Angeline Boulley, a 2019 mentee who worked with author Francisco X. Stork, sold her debut YA novel The Firekeeper’s Daughter after a 12-bidder auction. Boulley was also awarded a 2022 Walter Award in the Teen Category. Several past mentees have given back by returning as mentors in 2022, including Valerie Bolling and Olivia Aserr.
Applications for the next cycle of the WNDB Mentorship Program are expected to open in summer or fall 2022, and details will be posted in the future on the Mentorship website. Multi-published and actively working children’s literature authors and illustrators who’d like to mentor a writer or artist are encouraged to reach out to the Program Manager Alaina Lavoie, and/or co-chairs Miranda Paul and Meg Cannistra, by May of the year preceding the mentorship.
About We Need Diverse Books. We Need Diverse Books is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that runs twelve exciting initiatives united under one goal—to combat systemic racism and oppression by creating a world where everyone can find themselves on the pages of a book. Established in 2014, WNDB strives to support and amplify diverse literature by mentoring marginalized creators, providing resources to diverse publishing professionals, and donating diverse books to schools and libraries nationwide. Learn more at diversebooks.org.
Alaina Lavoie, firstname.lastname@example.org