We Need Diverse Books, the grassroots group of authors and others that coalesced around the lack of diversity in BookCon’s initial children’s author lineup this past spring, continues to advocate for more diversity in contemporary children’s literature by introducing new initiatives. WNDB is officially rolling out its new logo with this story. The organization announced exclusively to PW this week that it is launching an award and grants program in 2015. Also, Walter Dean Myers’s literary estate has granted WNDB the rights to name the award and grants in memory of the late children’s book writer, who was outspoken in his lifelong advocacy for multicultural children’s books. Myers died on July 1.
The Walter Dean Myers Award, which WNDB representatives have already nicknamed The Walter, will recognize published authors from diverse backgrounds who celebrate diversity in their writing and “[allow] children to see themselves reflected back” in those works, according to WNDB’s announcement to PW. The amount of the award has yet to be determined.
In addition to The Walter Award, Walter Dean Myers grants will be awarded to up-and-coming, unpublished writers and illustrators who are creating diverse works and require financial support so that they can get published. Grants will range from $2,000 to $5,000 each, with the number of grants awarded to be determined by the amount of money raised during fundraising campaigns.
The award and grants will be administered exclusively by WNDB personnel, with the first award and grants to be handed out in 2015. Nominations, WNDB’s founder and spokesperson Ellen Oh told PW, will be judged by “a committee of established authors, agents, editors, and other publishing professionals who have displayed strong advocacy for diversity in children’s literature.” The award and grants are currently limited to young adult literature but, Oh said, the group hopes to expand the scope of the award to include middle grade and picture books in the future.
We Need Diverse Books will launch an Indiegogo campaign on October 24 to raise funds for The Walter Award, as well as for its previously announced initiatives, including its Diversity in the Classroom program, its mentorship programs, and the Children’s Literature Diversity Festival, which is scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C., in the summer of 2016. A date will be announced after the conclusion of the Indiegogo campaign.
WNDB representatives are scheduled to participate on panels about diversity at the National Conference for Teachers of English in Washington, D.C., in November, at the Association of Writing Programs conference in Minneapolis next April, at the American Library Association summer meeting in San Francisco in June 2015, and at the Texas Book Festival in October 2015, as well as at other regional writers’ conferences.