FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
We Need Diverse Books Announces Lineup for Seventh Year of Mentorship Program
August 16, 2021
Washington, DC — The We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) Mentorship committee is pleased to announce the program’s seventh consecutive year. Starting October 1, upcoming writers and artists will get the chance to apply for one of 16 year-long mentorships in four different categories. The program has awarded mentorships to nearly 70 diverse authors and illustrators since 2015. Applications will be open from October 1-31, 2021. Learn more about the Mentorship Program here.
In 2022, the program will include sixteen mentorships across four categories: picture book text, illustration, middle grade, and young adult. The 2022 mentors are an award-winning and bestselling lineup of children’s book creators including Kyle Lukoff, S. K. Ali, Saadia Faruqi, Francisco X. Stork, Andy Passchier, Olivia Aserr, Gloria Chao, Janet Costa Bates, Nick Bruel, Jarrett Lerner, Valerie Bolling, Varsha Bajaj, Cindy Baldwin, Silvia López, Sabina Khan, and Padma Venkatraman. Read the 2022 Mentor bios and Mentor Statements on our website.
“We are thrilled about this incredible lineup of mentors for the 2022 cycle,” said Caroline Richmond, WNDB Interim Executive Director. “Since its inception in 2016, the WNDB Mentorship initiative has nurtured diverse voices from all over the world and we are excited to welcome 16 new mentees to the program.”
Children’s writers and illustrators from diverse backgrounds seeking craft-based mentorships are invited to submit applications between October 1-31, 2021. The applicants will be reviewed for mentorship readiness, and manuscripts will be evaluated on elements such as craft, story, and diversity. WNDB mentorship recipients will be announced publicly in January 2022.
Many of the Mentorship Program’s finalists and mentees have gone on to sign with agents and get book deals. To name a few, Shirley Ng-Benitez, a 2020 finalist, signed with Ammi-Joan Paquette through her mentorship finalist status; 2019 mentee Angeline Boulley sold her middle grade debut novel in a 12-bidder auction; 2018 mentee Dane Liu’s forthcoming debut picture book Friends Are Friends, Forever was conceived of and revised during his mentorship with Jim Averbeck; 2019 mentee Adriana Hernández Bergstrom, who is also a 2018 Walter Grant recipient, has a debut picture book Abuelita and I Make Flan forthcoming from Charlesbridge in fall 2022; and 2019 mentee Diana Ma’s debut YA, Heiress Apparently, released in December 2020 from Amulet Books.
Former mentees continue to grow their publishing careers because of their experiences in the Mentorship Program. “[My mentor Kelly Starling Lyons] has shared a multitude of valuable information with me about the publishing industry and encouraged me to apply for opportunities,” said Valerie Bolling, who was also a 2020 mentee and the author of Let’s Dance! and the forthcoming Together We Swim, Together We Ride, City Fun, and Neighborhood Jam. “It is because of my overwhelmingly positive experience with Kelly that I’ve decided to pay it forward and serve as a mentor in 2022.”
“Joyce Wan was so helpful during my WNDB mentorship, reminding me to stay true to my color palettes and style,” said 2019 mentee Adriana Hernández Bergstrom, author of the forthcoming Abuelita and I Make Flan. “After a total color rethink, I subbed to my agent, and not long after we sold our first book together!”
“I’m beyond grateful to WNDB for offering their wonderful mentorship program and my mentor, Swati Avasthi, for her invaluable feedback and encouragement!” said Diana Ma, 2019 mentee and author of YA Heiress Apparently and the forthcoming MG Extracurricular. “With Swati’s help, I was able to revise my manuscript to the point that I finally got offers of representation from agents …. None of this would have been possible without the WNDB mentorship program!”
2018 mentee Dane Liu, author of the forthcoming Friends Are Friends, Forever, agrees: “The 2018 mentorship was a defining moment in my writing life. Jim Averbeck, my mentor, challenged my understanding of the fundamentals, such as plot, character, atmosphere, and poetry. He helped me revise several manuscripts, one of which connected me to my literary agent and became my first book with Macmillan. Today WNDB’s mentorship continues to empower me as a writer and connect me to its wonderful community.”
About We Need Diverse Books. We Need Diverse Books is a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people. It is our mission to put more books featuring diverse characters in the hands of all children. You can learn more about WNDB programs at www.diversebooks.org.
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