At last month’s meeting of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Children’s Alliance, held in San Francisco on August 24, a team of booksellers unveiled a new initiative to help raise awareness of diverse titles in children’s fiction.
The current members of the Children’s Alliance’s new Diversity Committee include Lauren O’Niell of Booksmith, Claire Teel of Hicklebee’s, Ariel Richardson of Chronicle Books, Luan Strauss of Laurel Book Store, Shoshana Smith of the Reading Bug, Ashley Despain of Green Apple Books, and Summer Laurie of Books Inc.
The committee members, in a joint collaboration with its East Coast sister organization, the New England Children’s Booksellers Advisory Council, shared their mission statement at the meeting, in which they expressed their intention “to raise awareness of diversity in books and to promote their place in our communities. By tracking member store sales of two particular titles... we will be able to provide hard evidence to publishers that diverse books sell. Our hope is to convince publishers to create more books with more diverse characters and situations. We challenge publishers to produce a broad range of books for varied age ranges that represent characters of diverse experiences.”
NCIBA has chosen to spotlight One Word from Sophia, written by Jim Averbeck and illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail (Simon and Schuster); and a backlist middle-grade novel, The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Allison Levy (Delacorte). NCIBA has challenged NECBA to a handselling challenge, pitting their titles against NECBA’s chosen book, Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson (Putnam).
The group will collect sales data for the next three months to share with publishers, and will feature the titles in the NCIBA’s holiday catalog. And they hope to continue the campaign in the future, including books from more publishers, including smaller and independent presses.