“Diversity is not a trend. It’s a fact of life.”
Neal Porter said this at a recent Children’s Book Guild meeting in Washington, D.C. In addition to giving insight into his long career in publishing (his books have won just about every major award including Caldecott Medals), Neal spoke to his hope for the future.
He knows that we (and perhaps most importantly, our children) live in a diverse world. Neal and many others in the field are trying to present that diversity in the best books for young readers. Why? Because “books change lives,” says National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Jacqueline Woodson .
To encourage the range of authors and readers, We Need Diverse Books was founded and established an award named after one of the early writers who wrote not only award-winning books, but also about the need for readers to see themselves and their experiences — as well as those about others — in books.
The third Walter Dean Myers Awards have just been announced and will be celebrated at the Library of Congress in March. In addition to books for teen readers, this year’s winners include a category for younger readers.
These, as all awards for literature should be, a celebration of quality books for young readers and the diversity that makes up our country: diversity in backgrounds, culture, experiences, hopes, needs, and more.
After all, diversity is a fact of life.