FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
We Need Diverse Books Celebrates 5 Year Anniversary
Bethesda, MD — We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) is celebrating its fifth anniversary. July 2019 marks WNDB fifth year as a nonprofit organization.
WNDB promotes diversity in children’s and young adult literature and was founded following a successful social media campaign #WeNeedDiverseBooks went viral during BookCon 2014. A small group of children’s authors, illustrators, librarians, and book lovers came together to create a range of programs designed to increase the number of diverse books available for all children. This small group of founders has grown to a network of over 50 volunteers across the country and more than 50,000 followers on social media.
“I am so proud to be leading We Need Diverse Books at this time,” says Nicole Johnson, executive director. “With its initial Twitter campaign, WNDB helped to reset the publishing industry and its focus on delivering quality literature for all children. We deeply appreciate the over 50 volunteers who coordinate WNDB programs and outreach efforts.”
Since its founding, WNDB has implemented a dynamic slate of programs designed to close the diversity gaps that exist in children’s publishing. Major program accomplishments include:
- WNDB Internships. Distributed 44 internship grants of $2,500 each to interns working at publishing houses like Candlewick, Simon & Schuster, and Lee & Low. Twenty-one eligible interns were hired into full-time positions.
- WNDB in the Classroom. WNDB has donated over 15,000 children’s books including Walter-award winning titles to public schools across the country.
- Walter Dean Myers Grants. Honored 16 aspiring creators from marginalized communities with Walter Grants of $2,000 each. Past honorees include Angie Thomas, Francesca Padilla, and Jennifer De Leon.
- Walter Dean Myers Awards. Celebrated 18 titles of children’s and young adult authors, among them Jason Reynolds, John Lewis, Nate Powell, Margarita Engle, and Nicola Yoon. Most recently, Elizabeth Acevedo (The Poet X) and Jewell Parker Rhodes (Ghost Boys) were honored with Walter Awards.
- WNDB Mentorships. Mentored 43 emerging authors and illustrators, among them Lisa Brathwaite and A. M. Dassu.
- WNDB Anthologies. Partnered with Penguin Random House to publish the middle-grade anthology Flying Lessons and Other Stories and the young adult anthology Fresh Ink receiving a combined total of seven starred trade reviews. The Hero Next Door, a middle-grade anthology, will be published on July 30, 2019.
The growth of WNDB programs coincides with a five-year increase in the number of children’s books featuring racially diverse characters released by publishers. From 2013 to 2018, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center has reported a steady increase in the percentage of books published that feature racially diverse characters growing from 10% in 2013 to 31% in 2017. WNDB seeks to change the publishing industry by countering false assumptions and beliefs about the need and economic viability of diverse books.
“Looking ahead to the next five years, we are taking steps to deepen our impact,” says Johnson. “We are building partnerships to giveaway more diverse books, support more authors and illustrators to create diverse books, and fund youth and young adults of diverse backgrounds to embark upon careers in publishing.”
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About We Need Diverse Books (WNDB)
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.
Press Contact: Alaina Leary, firstname.lastname@example.org