Category Archives: Diversity, Race, and Representation

Conversation about diversity, multiculturalism, race, and inclusion.

Diverse Children’s Books to Give as Gifts, Ages 6-12

Still searching for the best books to gift to young readers? We’ve got you covered!

Last week we shared our gift recommendations for children ages 0-5. If you’re looking for colorful, striking, authentically diverse books for the children in your life ages 6-12, check out our suggestions below! Continue reading

Calling All Publishers, Agents, and Review Journals: Join Us for Diversity Baseline Survey 2.0

Five years ago, Lee & Low Books launched the first Diversity Baseline Survey to examine four aspects of diversity among publishing industry staff: race, gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability. Administered to over 13,000 publishing employees at thirty-five different publishing companies and eight major review journals, the Diversity Baseline Survey inspired many conversations and initiatives to help build a more inclusive book industry.

Five years later, it is time for us to redo the survey to see what has changed. We have big plans this time, including a Kickstarter (launching early 2019) to raise money to hire a professional survey/evaluation company and an initiative to include literary agents, who play an important role in gatekeeping.

We are putting an open call out to publishing houses and literary agencies of all sizes: will you participate in 2019?

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Genielysse Reyes Receives 2018 Lee & Low and Friends Scholarship from Simmons College

We’re excited to announce that Simmons College Graduate Programs in Children’s Literature has awarded Genielysse Reyes as the 2018 recipient of the Lee & Low and Friends Scholarship.

A partnership between the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children’s Literature and children’s book publisher Lee & Low Books, the scholarship provides opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds to participate in Simmons’ prestigious children’s literature graduate program. Lee & Low Books is the largest multicultural book publisher in the country and a leader in the effort to diversify the publishing industry. Simmons shares this goal and is committed to creating opportunities for all students so that a multiplicity of voices can be heard in the publishing industry and in books published for children and young adults.

This year, we interviewed Genielysse Reyes about her love of children’s literature, her thoughts on providing equitable access for people of color in publishing, and her goals as a part of the Simmons program.

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Authors Guadalupe García McCall and David Bowles on the Mexicanx Initiative at WorldCon

Each year, WorldCon (the World Science Fiction Convention) gathers fans and creators of science fiction and fantasy. Among many things that happen at WorldCon is the awarding of the Hugos, something like the Oscars for speculative fiction. The first convention took place in New York City in 1939, and every year after, it has been held in a different city, organized by volunteers. In 2018, Worldcon 76 was held in San Jose, California.

Now, the thing to remember is that people of color—especially Latinx folx—have been largely absent from WorldCon during its 76 years. But this year, one of the guests of honor was illustrator John Picacio, the first Mexican American to win a Hugo (and first to serve as MC). He wanted to make sure Mexicans and Mexican Americans would be there in significant numbers.

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Most of the Mexicanx Initiative takes the stage at the beginning of WorldCon.

So John founded the Mexicanx Initiative, at first intending to sponsor just a couple of key creators. But when he announced it, a dozen or so movers and shakers in the world of SF/F stepped up to contribute, and before long there was enough support to bring FIFTY Mexicanx writers, illustrators, megafans, etc. Guadalupe García McCall and David Bowles were invited to be part of this stellar group. They were placed on panels, brought into the spotlight, allowed to stand on the stage in solidarity with Dreamers and refugees.

It was a gamechanging moment.

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The Power of Athlete Activists: Making Connections in the Classroom

Athletes have the power and ability to inspire social action, even though they may face criticism that their work should be “left on the field.” Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, began #takeaknee by kneeling for the national anthem during an NFL football game in 2017. When people questioned him about his intentions, he stated, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a country that oppresses black people and people of color…”.

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The Whiteness of PBS’s Great American Read

The Great American Read

Last night, PBS announced the winner of their Great American Read, a poll to determine “America’s Favorite Novel.” The winner was To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, a story about racial tolerance that received 242,275 votes from a total of nearly 4.3 million cast.

According to PBS, the top 100 books were chosen by using the public opinion polling service “YouGov” to conduct “a demographically and statistically representative survey asking Americans to name their most-loved novel.” Once the Top 100 list was established, voting was opened to everyone to determine the winner and rankings of all 100 titles.

Given our focus on diversity and inclusion, we wondered how representative the list looked when compared to America’s demographics. Were authors of color represented? How did their books fare in the poll? Continue reading

Using Children’s Books to Address Anxiety in Schools

There are many different factors behind why anxiety and depression have increased in children in recent years: limitations on free play, social media use, the current state of the political climate in this country, and more. According to a study about the lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in adolescents (ages 13-18) from the United States, nearly one in three fit the criteria for an anxiety disorder. The Center for Disease Control found that 32% of teens reported persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness in a study that ranged from 2007 to 2017. Mental health awareness is crucial for all of us, and it needs to be discussed with children starting at an early age.

Books are a great way to bring up these topics to let children know that it’s okay to talk about these things, especially through the lens of a beloved character or riveting storyline. Continue reading

7 Children’s Books That Transcend Hispanic Heritage Month

In this guest post, New York Public Library Head of Teen Services Elisa Garcia shares some of her favorite titles for fostering conversation and dialogue during Hispanic Heritage Month and BEYOND. Welcome, Elisa!

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated September 15- October 15. While it is great that these days are solely dedicated to celebrating and highlighting Hispanic Heritage, in public libraries part of our mission is to ensure that our collections reflect the diversity of our users and that culture and diversity are celebrated year round! The following recommended titles are valuable additions to our library collection that not only celebrate the diversity of Latinx culture, but can be used year-round to celebrate culture and diversity of all peoples. Continue reading

Watch the Webinar: Teaching Tough Topics with Children’s Literature

Thank you to everyone who joined us this week for our webinar, “Teaching Tough Topics with Children’s Literature”! If you missed it live (or just want to watch again), here is a recording of the webinar:


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Cover Reveal: Cat Girl’s Day Off

Released in 2012, Cat Girl’s Day Off introduces readers to Natalie (Nat) Ng, a typical teenager…except for the fact that she can talk to cats, which she tries very hard to hide. When one of her best friends, Oscar, shows her a viral Internet video featuring a famous blogger being attacked by her own cat, Nat realizes what’s really going on. Soon her and her friends are caught in the middle of a celebrity kidnapping mystery that takes them through Ferris Bueller’s Chicago and on and off movie sets.

Now we’re excited to release a new paperback version of Cat Girl’s Day Off.  Check out the new cover below! Continue reading