As thousands of people across the country have taken to the streets to protest Donald Trump’s election, children’s book illustrators have taken to their drawing boards to support children during these troubling times. In a nod to the safety pin movement that emerged after the U.K. voted to leave the European Union in June, the group effort, initially called #kidlitsafetypins, was launched on Friday by author-illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka, who wrote on social media, “What if #kidlit illustrators created images of their characters with a safety pin coupled with messages of love & anti-harassment? By Monday, librarians could print enough images to plaster their school hallways with kids' favorite characters spreading acceptance & optimism.”
Describing himself as “striving to be an ally to those who get marginalized, not just through platitudes but action,” Krosoczka wrote that “people want to help kids that are particularly scared right now. Artists want to create, educators want to lift their kids up.”
The response was almost instantaneous and went viral, as scores of artists responded throughout the weekend and into Tuesday morning with art that they posted on social media for use by teachers and librarians. Some of the biggest names in contemporary children’s book art are participating, including Mo Willems, Marla Frazee, Todd Parr, Raina Telgemeier, Salina Yoon, Lauren Castillo, and Tony DeTerlizzi. Even some children’s book authors not known for their visual art joined in with contributions, including Shannon Hale, Linda Sue Park, Rick Riordan and Dan Gemeinhart, who posted that he “can’t draw. But I can write words.”
Initially, the hashtag was #kidlitsafetypins, and artists were urged to include a safety pin on their character’s clothing, but on Saturday evening, Krosoczka suggested on social media that the safety pin aspect be downplayed and that the hashtag be changed to #hugsfromkidlit.
“Teaching a kid that an adult with a safety pin is automatically safe could be dangerous,” Krosoczka noted, adding, “I’m hoping that we can offer metaphorical hugs for kids with kind words and positive images.”