We are excited to announce that Simmons College has awarded its first Lee & Low and Friends Scholarship to Luisiana Duarte Armendáriz. The scholarship, a partnership between the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children’s Literature and children’s book publisher LEE & LOW BOOKS, was created to provide opportunities for students of color to enroll in a prestigious children’s literature graduate program.
Armendáriz will use the scholarship to pursue a dual masters degree in Children’s Literature (MA) and Writing for Children (MFA) from Simmons College. She creates middle grade adventure novels and whimsical picture books. In addition to writing and illustrating, Armendáriz is also passionate about literacy dissemination efforts, especially in her home country of Mexico.
“I think that the greatest thing about scholarships like the Lee & Low and Friends Scholarship is that they give a voice to different stories that otherwise would not have the opportunity to be heard,” Armendáriz said.
Nearly 80% of publishing staff and reviewers identify as white, according to LEE & LOW’s Diversity Baseline Survey, released earlier this year. Unpaid internships and costly graduate programs, combined with low entry-level salaries, are significant barriers for many candidates hoping to work in publishing. As a result, on average only 10% percent of the children’s books published each year over the last two decades have been about characters of color, despite the fact that nearly 40% of the US population is comprised of people of color.
The $100,000 scholarship fund, from which Luisiana will receive a stipend, was created through donations from LEE & LOW BOOKS and Simmons College alumni. The initiative is a partnership between two organizations committed to diversity in children’s literature, and can serve as a model for other organizations and companies who want to help increase diversity within the field.
ABOUT THE CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF CHILDREN’S LITERATURE AT SIMMONS COLLEGE: Established in 1977, the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature supports the advancement of the study of children’s and young adult literature through nationally recognized partnerships and graduate programs, including the nation’s first Master of Arts in Children’s Literature and Master of Fine Arts: Writing for Children, as well as several innovative dual degree options. To learn more, visit simmons.edu/academics/graduate-programs/childrens-literature-ma.
ABOUT LEE & LOW BOOKS: Established in 1991, LEE & LOW BOOKS is the largest children’s book publisher in the United States specializing in diversity. Under several imprints, the company provides a comprehensive range of notable diverse books for beginning readers through young adults. Visit leeandlow.com to learn more.