FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WNDB Announces Mentors for Ninth Year of Mentorship Program
June 20, 2023
Bethesda, MD — The We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) Mentorship committee is pleased to announce the program’s ninth consecutive year. Upcoming writers and artists will get the chance to apply for one of 15 year-long mentorships in four different categories. Applications will be open from August 15-September 15, 2023. Learn more about the Mentorship Program here.
In 2024, the program will include fifteen mentorships across four categories: picture book text, illustration, middle grade, and young adult. The 2024 mentors are an award-winning and bestselling lineup of children’s book creators including Shirley Ng-Benitez, Adriana Hernández Bergstrom, Katie Mazeika (Illustration); Meera Sriram, Aya Khalil, Alyssa Reynoso-Morris, Laurel Goodluck (Picture Book); Meredith Ireland, Justine Pucella Winans, Gail D. Villanueva, Margeaux Weston (Middle Grade); Jen Ferguson, Aiden Thomas, Katherine Locke, and Crystal Maldonado (Young Adult). Several of this year’s mentors are alumnx of the Mentorship Program as former mentees or finalists, including Shirley Ng-Benitez, Adriana Hernández Bergstrom, and Laurel Goodluck.
The 2024 Mentor Bios are available here.
Children’s writers and illustrators from diverse backgrounds seeking craft-based mentorships are invited to submit applications between August 15-September 15, 2023. 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 December 2023 or January 2024. The committee will also select a list of finalists with promising applications who become eligible for opportunities and programming from WNDB.
Many of the Mentorship Program’s finalists and mentees have gone on to sign with agents and get book deals, including:
- Shirley Ng-Benitez, a 2020 finalist, signed with Ammi-Joan Paquette and her debut picture book as an author-illustrator Down, Through, Up is expected in 2025;
- 2022 mentee Marianna Leal’s adult novel As Long As You Love Me is expected in September 2023
- 2021 mentee Thushanthi Ponweera’s middle grade novel I Am Kavi is forthcoming in fall 2023
- 2019 mentee Angeline Boulley sold her middle grade debut novel in a 12-bidder auction;
- 2019 mentee Laurel Goodluck has published several picture books, including Forever Cousins and the forthcoming Rock Your Mocs
- 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;
- 2019 mentee Diana Ma’s debut YA, Heiress Apparently, released in December 2020 from Amulet Books;
- and 2018 mentee Dane Liu’s forthcoming debut picture book Friends Are Friends, Forever was conceived of and revised during his mentorship with Jim Averbeck;
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.
Press Contact: Fin Lavoie, firstname.lastname@example.org