We're welcoming Lizette Serrano, Director, Education/Library Marketing and Conventions Scholastic Trade Division to the blog today!
One of my most memorable experiences working at Scholastic and as a reader is when I read Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan. First, I was swept up by the beautifully written story—it’s one of my all-time favorite books. It had a profound effect on me because it was the first time that I could ever remember identifying so deeply with a Latino character and being so uplifted. The gorgeously rendered art of Esperanza with her black flowing hair (just like mine) on the front cover by artist Joe Cepeda deepened the emotional connection for me. I felt proud: proud of my heritage and proud that children (and adults) would have similar reading experiences with this book and see themselves reflected as I had.
I am Puerto Rican. I grew up in the Bronx and then Brooklyn and I cherished books so much. They were my escape into other worlds. However, books with Latino characters were not introduced to me. Today, the margin of books published with diverse characters has widened but it's not nearly enough.
Last May, the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign kicked off. Their mission is to address the lack of diversity in children’s literature and they are committed to the ideal that embracing diversity will lead to acceptance, empathy, and ultimately equality. It lit a spark and has had a ripple effect in the industry. It's amazing what they have accomplished so far. In addition to following the hashtag above across various social media platforms, you can also follow #supportWNDB and contribute to the mission here.
At Scholastic, literacy remains the cornerstone of all that we do. And now, more than ever, literacy—the ability to read, write, and understand—is a necessity, not only to succeed but also to survive.
Scholastic has always published diverse books, and we want to show our support for the movement and ensure that our diverse titles—both new and backlist—are front and center. That’s why we’re proud to launch #WeHaveDiverseBooks, a campaign that celebrates and supports diversity in children’s literature. Our goal is to offer book suggestions, highlight authors, and elevate the voices, stories, and experiences of our readers. We’ll be sharing related content on social media, so please follow along at #WeHaveDiverseBooks. We’d love to know your favorite diverse books and hear how you promote diversity through reading! Get started by checking out our #WeHaveDiverseBooks Pinterest board or our full list of multicultural books from 2014 and 2013.
We also want to encourage book talks and recommendations of diverse books by offering a complimentary #WeHaveDiverseBooks button for booksellers, teachers, educators and librarians. We will begin distributing these buttons at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) conference this week and throughout the year to continue to spark conversations about diversity in children’s literature, and inspire you to share your favorite or collection of diverse books!