We Need Diverse Books, SLJ Release Booktalking Kits

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) and School Library Journal have partnered to create WNDB Booktalking Kits, which are designed to help teachers, librarians, and booksellers start discussions and facilitate discovery of diverse children’s books among their students, patrons, and customers. The American Booksellers Association shipped the kit to members via the Summer Kids’ White Box, which arrived at stores last week.

WNDB Booktalking Kits feature an introduction and WNDB campaign one-sheet; three lists of 10 WNDB picks (young adult, middle grade, and picture book) with a basic 50 to 75 word description that emphasizes their universal appeal, suggestions for comparative titles, and “Perfect for....” recommendations. Also included are shelf-talkers for each WNDB pick; shelf-talkers for comparative titles, which direct readers to the WNDB pick; and a WNDB sign so teachers, librarians, and booksellers can easily create WNDB displays.

The kits, which WNDB and SLJ plan to produce twice yearly, are also available online at diversebooks.org and www.slj.com.

“I think our first toolkit shines light on some amazing books and hits all sorts of identities to create a collection that is truly representative of our world,” said Sarah Hannah Gomez, a WNDB librarian and volunteer-advisor for the kit initiative.

The project, which was inspired by the “Cheat Sheet for Selling Diversity” presented by author and bookseller Grace Lin during the We Need Diverse Books panel at BookCon 2014, was initially funded by an Indiegogo campaign.  In November, WNDB launched a fundraising page that raised more than $180,000 in a month for a number of diversity initiatives; a portion of the proceeds went toward creating the kits after reaching a “stretch goal” of $150,000.  

WNDB’s ultimate fundraising goal — to create an app to help readers discover diverse books straight from their mobile devices — is currently in development, with an anticipated release date of mid- to late summer of this year, according to WNDB’s tech team.

For summer 2015, WNDB is also producing a follow-up to last year’s Summer Reading Series, with lists comparing well-known recent titles to similar diversified reads. The Summer Reading lists will be posted soon via WNDB’s website, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

“The Summer Reading Series is a group effort, and it reflects the collective knowledge of the WNDB team,” said librarian Allie Jane Bruce.”It contains books for all ages, books in all formats, oldies-but-goodies, and brand new titles. And most importantly, it is a list that reflects the reality of our world and contains books that allow all kids to see themselves in literature.”