#DiverseBooks: African American Voices in Children’s Literature

#DiverseBooks: African American Voices in Children’s LiteratureAll children deserve to see themselves and their lives represented in books. Organizations like We Need Diverse Books and online movements such as #OwnVoices underscore this need. According to statistics from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, diversity in books is growing, but diversity in authors is not. Other companies, such as Lee & Low Books, have brought to the surface the diversity disparity among publishing professionals.

Free Spirit Publishing has been—and continues to be—committed to depicting in our books children who reflect the ethnic and racial demographics in the United States, as well as children of various religions, abilities, and genders. We are also dedicating ourselves to answering the call to publish authors who have historically been ignored or suppressed. Our submission guidelines and link to submit are available on our website.

One of our current initiatives is a partnership with Strive Publishing to shine the spotlight on Minnesotan African American voices through our first annual African American Voices in Children’s Literature Writing Contest.

Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Strive Publishing exists to help solve two problems: the need for culturally relevant children’s books and the underrepresentation of African American authors. While giving all children the opportunity to see African American culture from different perspectives, Strive Publishing aims to create opportunities for emerging African American authors. We all have a stake in the critical work of getting books by and about African Americans into the hands of all children, and we can make the greatest impact by working together.

Strive and Free Spirit are opening the contest to authors who are:

  • of African American heritage
  • Minnesota residents
  • at least 18 years of age

Eligible entries will include original fiction or nonfiction board books for ages 0–4 (50–125 words) and picture books for ages 4–8 (300–800 words) featuring contemporary African American characters and culture and focusing on one or more of the following topics:

  • character development
  • self-esteem
  • diversity
  • getting along with others
  • engaging with family and community
  • other topics related to positive childhood development

Awards & Cash Prizes
We will be awarding first-, second-, and third-place prizes.

First Place:

  • $1,000 cash prize
  • a T-shirt from Strive
  • a tote bag from Free Spirit
  • a meeting with Mary Taris, founder of Strive, and an editor from Free Spirit to discuss the winner’s project
  • serious consideration for publication by Free Spirit, cobranded with Strive (publication is not guaranteed)

Second Place:

  • $500 cash prize
  • a T-shirt from Strive
  • a tote bag from Free Spirit

Third Place:

  • $250 cash prize
  • a T-shirt from Strive
  • a tote bag from Free Spirit

The deadline for submitting entries is June 30, 2019. Guidelines, judging criteria, and submission information can be found at freespirit.com/contest.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2019 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved. The view expressed in this post represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily Free Spirit Publishing.

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