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All Children Deserve to See Themselves in Story: CBC Diversity, 2.5 Years In

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Learn more about CBC Diversity


“Books transmit values. They explore our common humanity. What is the message when some children are not represented in those books?” Walter Dean Myers  


This special CBC-Diversity-dedicated issue of Update, the CBC’s monthly member newsletter, is being shared with non-members.  


Dear friends of CBC Diversity,   


The need for diversity in children’s books is incontrovertible and CBC Diversity is one of many movements — spearheaded by groups and individuals — that have risen over the decades to address it. 

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats 
(Penguin YRG, 1962)


In 1962, Ezra Jack Keats

published The Snowy Day (Penguin Young Readers), widely considered to be the first full-color picture book to feature a black boy as the lead character.   


In 1965, Nancy Larrick — educator and founder of the International Reading Association — wrote an article in The Saturday Review entitled “The All-White World of Children’s Books”, exposing the dire lack of diversity in children’s literature.  


A young Walter Dean Myers in Harlem

Last week, former National Ambassador

for Young People’s Literature Walter Dean Myers — who gave voice to so many

marginalized children in his stories — passed away on the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act. In March of this year, in a New York Times Op-Ed piece, Myers asked, Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books?, a question he posed in the same forum 30 years before in “CHILDREN’S BOOKS; ‘I Actually Thought We Would Revolutionize the Industry'”.     


This April, the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign sprang out of the controversy surrounding BookCon’s lack of diversity in guest speakers and panelists, generating a powerful movement.  


In January of 2012, the Children’s Book Council was approached by Diversity in Books (DIBs) — a group of brilliant children’s book editors committed to promoting diversity in both the creators of and the topics addressed by children’s literature. With the aim of rallying the publishing industry — and beyond — around that mission by harnessing the children’s-book-community-unifying power of the CBC, DIBs evolved into CBC Diversity.

Over the last 2-and-a-half years, CBC Diversity has curated resources and generated critical discussion at CBCDiversity.com; hosted an array of educational opportunities and events, from industry panel discussions to college career fairs; built a Goodreads bookshelf comprised of thousands of diverse titles; maintained a Pinterest board and the #CBCDiversity hashtag on Twitter highlighting diverse content, and forged strong partnerships and programming with other national organizations committed to diversity.

We hope you’ll take a moment to review the initiative’s progress over the last few years below, share your thoughts on our brief survey, and join us in advocating for an inclusive and representative children’s book publishing industry.  

All children deserve to see themselves in story.

        Your CBC  

 CBW Book Only


Banner image:  Official Children’s Book Week poster, 1965, Ezra Jack Keats, (1916-1983)







The CBC Diversity initiative has hosted a website dedicated to diversity in children’s publishing at CBCDiversity.com for over 2.5 years, providing:

Curated resources for writers, teachers & librarians, publishing professionals, and parents & caregivers; personal journey stories from publishing staffers about surmounting obstacles to diversity; guest posts from renowned children’s book authors, illustrators, and experts; and more.

Dedicated Series
Over the years, the site has hosted themed series that highlight the unique experiences and insight of a variety of voices within the industry.

Diversity 101 (click to view all posts): introduces concepts and  discussions surrounding diversity — tackling common tropes, questions, and issues 

  Previous posts include: 


It’s Complicated! (click to view all posts)
: addresses the challenges to diversity that we face, as well as the opportunities that exist when we come together as a community 


Previous posts include: 


Author Matt de
la Peña

Industry Q&A (click to view all posts)
interviews with authors, illustrators, and industry experts about the state of diversity in children’s books  


Previous posts include:  



Since CBC Diversity’s launch in January 2012, the initiative has hosted a variety of events designed to: 


Give publishing staffers the opportunity to speak candidly about diversity and problem-solve collaboratively in a supportive environment; provide actionable takeaways for increasing diversity in all stages and departments of children’s publishing; expose diverse groups of young people to opportunities in the industry; and much more.   


For more information, visit CBC Diversity’s events page.  



Diversity in Book Covers Panelists


“Diversity on the Page, Behind the Pencil, and in the Office” Panelists


“A Place at the Table” Panelists


Diversity Newsletter: Diversity in the NewsDIN


Once a month, CBC Diversity rounds-up relevant news in children’s books and diversity.  


Since its launch in February 2013, 900+ people have registered to receive the newsletter.  


CBC Diversity maintains a Goodreads bookshelf of front and backlist titles published by CBC members in order to raise awareness of the diversity-friendly content already in existence.


Over 2,000 books are now in the system, catalogued by 65 categories including: “author-of-color”, “spanish-language”, “single-parent-families”, “mythology” and more. Visit CBC Diversity’s Goodreads here


A call for submissions from our member publishers is sent out four times a year to keep our list of representative titles current.   


CBC-member publishers: look for the call in your inboxes next week!




The CBC’s Pinterest is home to a dedicated board for CBC Diversity, featuring diverse book lists, initiatives, picture book art, and more.  


Partners in Diversity Partners

CBC Diversity builds partnerships and cooperative programming with other national organizations to advocate for an inclusive and representative children’s publishing industry.

Our partners include: 

  • AdAsia
  • ALAN
  • Baruch College
  • Career Eco
  • Diversity Inc
  • Glaad
  • IW Group
  • LOVE
  • LitWorld
  • Simmons College
  • Spike DDB
  • Qlovi
  • Westchester Multicultural Children’s Book Festival
As always, don’t hesitate to contact CBC staff.


Robin Adelson, Executive Director
Nicole Deming, Senior Communications Manager
Ayanna Coleman, Associate Manager, Events & Programs; Librarian
Matthew Poulter, Events & Programs Assistant, Membership Coordinator
Shaina Birkhead, Special Projects Assistant

CBC Update

Edited by: Nicole Deming 



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