A week after announcing an award for published authors and a grants program for emerging voices, named after the late Walter Dean Myers, We Need Diverse Books continues to announce new partnerships and initiatives intended to both fulfill and finance its mission of making books “with diverse, non-majority narratives” accessible to readers. WNDB began as a grassroots campaign this past spring in response to the lack of diversity in BookCon’s initial author lineup. The group’s founder, Ellen Oh, who is also its president, announced at BookCon that WNDB was developing, in collaboration with the National Education Association’s Read Across America program and First Book, a program to bring multicultural authors and their books into schools identified as serving children in need.
The initiative, called Diversity in the Classroom, Oh explained when announcing it on May 31, “will bring the opportunity to explore a diverse author’s book to a different classroom every month of the school year.” Diversity in the Classroom will debut in January 2015 in the Washington, D.C. area. More than a dozen children’s authors and illustrators known for incorporating diverse characters and themes into their work are lined up to date to visit 18 classrooms in the region during the 2014–2015 school year, including Kwame Alexander, Cece Bell, Susan Kuklin, Meg Medina, Aisha Saeed, Kelly Starling-Lyons, and Don Tate, with more authors and more classrooms to be added to the roster.
“The plan is to see how well the program works in the D.C. area before rolling it out on a nationwide basis,” Oh told PW.
WNDB also announced today two new partnerships and a crowdsourced fundraising campaign that will enable the organization to fulfill its mission and finance its projects:
● An Open Book Children’s Literacy Foundation, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit that promotes literacy in the greater Washington, D.C. area by sending children’s authors and illustrators into schools in underserved communities and providing students with books by those authors and illustrators, has joined the coalition sponsoring Diversity in the Classroom. "Our two organizations couldn't be more complementary in our missions. An Open Book is already in the schools doing great work,” Oh said.
● School Library Journal will co-sponsor with WNDB a “diversity-focused event” to be held in Boston during the American Library Association’s midwinter meeting there in January 2016. SLJ will also partner with WNDB in sponsoring the We Need Diversity Diverse Books Festival, to be held in Washington, D.C., in August 2016.
● On Friday, October 24, at 1 p.m. EST, WNDB in partnership with An Open Book will officially launch a 30-day Indiegogo fundraising campaign on social media with a Twitter discussion under the hashtag #SupportWNDB; supporters will be encouraged to take photos and submit them to WNDB’s Tumblr page. Funds raised through the Indiegogo campaign will go towards financing WNDB’s programs and initiatives, including Diversity in the Classroom, the Walter award, the Walter Dean Myers grants, and the 2016 diversity festival. Contributions are tax-deductible and there will be plenty of incentives for donors, including signed books and artwork and other swag.
● A soft launch of the Indiegogo campaign will take place on Twitter on Thursday, October 24, at 9 p.m. EST. Using the hashtag #k8chat, independent author assistant Kate Tilton will lead a discussion on WNDB and its goals.