FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WNDB Announces Three New Walter Grants in 2021
June 28, 2021
Washington, DC — We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) will open applications for its 2021 Walter Dean Myers Grants on August 1, 2021. This year, WNDB will give 8 grants at $2000 each to unpublished writers or illustrators from marginalized backgrounds who are working on children’s or young adult literature projects. Five of the grants were funded thanks to the generosity of Angie Thomas, author of #1 New York Times bestselling novel The Hate U Give, who is also a former Walter Grant recipient. Three of the 8 grants will be designated for creators from specific marginalized groups:
- One recurring grant for trans creators, thanks to a donation from author Margaret Owen
- One recurring grant for Muslim creators, thanks to a donation from author Hanna Alkaf.
- One grant for refugee and migrant creators, thanks to a donation from author A. M. Dassu
The submission window will run from August 1, 2021, until August 31, 2021. Additional application information can be found here.
“I’m excited about the growth awaiting the Walter Grants program in 2021,” said Alaina Lavoie, We Need Diverse Books Program Manager. “We have three brand new grants to award this year, which will make an impact for creators who are refugees or migrants, trans, and Muslim. These grants allow unpublished, underrepresented authors the ability to continue creating their work. I’m so grateful for the generosity and support of our children’s literature community.”
Bestselling and award-winning author Angie Thomas received a Walter Grant in 2015. “The Walter Grant truly helped change my life,” she said of why she wanted to give back to the program. “Beyond the recognition it gave me, I was able to use the money to buy the laptop which I wrote The Hate U Give on. It’s an honor to now be able to give other writers similar opportunities to fulfill their dreams.”
“When I read that the We Need Diverse Books Walter Grant helped Angie Thomas buy a laptop to write The Hate You Give, I wanted to do the same for a refugee or recent migrant who loves to write, but doesn’t have the financial capital to spend time or gain the support to do it,” explained A. M. Dassu, author of Boy, Everywhere, about starting a Walter Grant for refugee and migrant writers. “It is difficult to write when you have had to flee to another country and lost everything, but I hope I will be able to help someone who is ready to take that next step to tell their story. If I can help one refugee or recent migrant to make progress in their writing journey, or even get published, my life will be made! I am so grateful to WNDB for helping me do this”
“As a lifelong fantasy lover, I believe magical worlds have room for everyone,” said Margaret Owen, author of The Merciful Crow duology and Little Thieves, about why she wanted to set up a Walter Grant for trans writers, “and now more than ever, it’s important to make sure trans kids know that they are seen and loved for who they are.”
About the Walter Grant for Muslim writers, Hanna Alkaf, author of The Weight of Our Sky and The Girl & the Ghost, said, “‘Cahaya’ means light in Malay, and my hope is that more and more Muslim authors will get their chance to shine in a world that has not always looked kindly on our existence… Kids need and deserve the magic of our stories.”
The Walter Grant program was initiated in 2015 to provide financial support to promising writers and illustrators from diverse communities. Since the program’s launch, WNDB has awarded 26 Walter Grants of $2000 each. Previous recipients include Jennifer de Leon, author of Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From (August 2020); Yamile Saied Méndez, author of Where Are You From? and winner of Lee & Low’s New Voices Award; Jacqueline Alcantara, author of The Field; and Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give, a #1 New York Times Bestseller that has also been adapted into a movie produced by Fox 2000 Pictures.
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.
Contact: Alaina Lavoie, Program Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org