I recently joined a new diversity committee for New England Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (NESCBWI). The other members of the committee are: Jeanette Bradley, Lisa Stringfellow, Janet Costa Bates, Amitha Knight, Autumn Allen, and Valerie Bolling. One of the first tasks our committee accomplished was create a mission statement:
The mission of the NESCBWI Equity and Inclusion Committee is to create and enact initiatives that support increased equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout our region. By increasing access and support for writers and illustrators from groups historically marginalized and underrepresented in children’s literature, promoting education for members around issues of diversity and inclusion as it relates to publishing, and planning events and gatherings to support a diverse community, the committee hopes to increase the depth and quality of books that will meet the needs of all children.
With the lens wide, we set goals:
Increase support for current members from historically underrepresented and marginalized groups
Increase membership among creators from historically underrepresented and marginalized groups in our region
Promote education for general membership around issues of diversity and inclusion
And then we created concrete ways to make this happen.
Windows & Mirrors Scholarships
NESCBWI believes that all children deserve to have books that serve as both mirrors and windows into the diverse human experience. With the goal of broadening access to our conferences and supporting diverse voices, we are excited to announce six scholarships for writers and illustrators from groups historically marginalized and underrepresented in children’s literature.
In 2020, NESCBWI will be offering scholarships to attend the NESCBWI 2020 conference in Springfield, MA. Two of the scholarships are for current SCBWI members and two are reserved for prospective members. In addition, there will be two runner-up scholarships that will provide registration to one of our Agent/Editor/Art Director days in Spring or Fall 2020.
Look for the scholarship announcement in November for more details on how to apply.
We are working with our 2020 New England SCBWI conference organizers to increase POC keynoters and workshop presenters at our annual conference. We have a goal of no all-white panels. We are also hoping to set up an equity and inclusion affinity group meetup on Friday night of the conference. In addition, the conference planners are working on new and improved pronoun stickers, and will continue to provide gender neutral bathrooms. We also plan to remind all speakers at the conference to use microphones so that people with hearing challenges can hear.
Our future agenda items:
Measuring success of our efforts
Creating new events and initiatives that our membership would like to attend.
What suggestions do you have for our committee? Please leave a comment below. Thanks for your ideas!
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.