The #DrumItUp Campaign


Dear Book Lover,
Drum Dream Girl GraphicA little over a year ago, Kate Messner took up the #WeNeedDiverseBooks cause and spurred the handselling phenomenon that was The Great Greene Challenge.

This winter, the We Need Diverse Books team hopes to catapult another title into the spotlight with its #DrumItUp for Drum Dream Girl campaign, highlighting the latest book by Margarita Engle, the first Latin@ Newbery Honor winner. Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music, illustrated by Pura Belpré Award-winning artist Rafael López, is a beautiful, poetic narrative of a young girl’s bravery to pursue her dreams in the face of naysayers.

Inspired by the childhood of world-famous Chinese-African-Cuban musician Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, Drum Dream Girl is not only a vibrant tribute to the musical arts, but also a noteworthy contribution to the gender equality movement.

Engle’s descriptive yet rhythmic text takes readers into the heart of a young girl with a burning passion for music. Paired with López’s colorful surrealistic art style, the book allows readers to feel her passion while imagining the musical milieu of 1930s Cuba. Its central message says not to be limited by your gender, to persevere against all the norms, to have the courage to dream big and to have the determination to make that dream a reality. Simply put, Drum Dream Girl is bold, bright, daring and simply fantastic.

This picture book is a true celebration of what it means to follow your dreams. Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle and Rafael López isn’t just a “don’t miss” kind of book. It’s a book that all readers, booksellers, and authors will find to be a valuable addition to their collection. Read this book, buy this book, gift this book, talk about this book, and we think you’ll agree that this diverse book is one of the most distinguished picture books of this year.

The We Need Diverse BooksTM team invites booksellers and readers of all ages to join us as we celebrate this inspiring story. From November 28 to January 31st, bookstores will be drumming up interest in the book by striving to sell as many copies as possible. On Indies First Day (Small Business Saturday, November 28), members and supporters of the We Need Diverse Books movement will be appearing in bookstores across the country to handsell this title to patrons as they browse, and a social media effort centered around the hashtag #DrumItUp will commence the following week. At the end of the selling period, the top selling bookstore, as determined on a sliding scale, will receive a prize package including a WNDB Bookseller of the Year trophy and a large high quality giclee print signed by Rafael López.

Don’t worry, teachers and librarians, we haven’t left you out! If you want to participate, sign up using the form below. Take a photo of the display and email it to (along with your name, job title, institution and location) to be entered into a lottery to win your own signed print! Please keep us apprised on your circulation numbers and patron/student feedback!

More importantly, young readers across the country will have received a gorgeous, inspiring book about the power of music and overcoming odds. Please join us!


The We Need Diverse Books Team

(More questions? Scroll down for an FAQ.)


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How do I promote #DrumItUp in my store/library/classroom?
You can download the above high-resolution picture to your computer and use it in your promotional materials online or in print flyers in your store. The WNDB website and social media accounts will list and promote your bookstore as a participant in the challenge. Local supporters will come in and help you promote and handsell the book whenever they can! You can reach out to authors, librarians, and other supporters in your community, and they will also be reaching out to you.

What are some talking points I can use when promoting Drum Dream Girl?
Some of the book’s appeal factors include:

  • Music
  • Mixed ethnic and racial heritage
  • Feminism
  • Following your dreams
  • Cuba
  • Island setting
  • NOT just for girls

Some popular picture books, recent and classic, that are good comparisons:

  • Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell Brown and Frank Morrison
  • Harlem’s Little Blackbird by Renée Watson and Christian Robinson
  • Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? by Tanya Lee Stone and Marjorie Priceman
  • The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
  • Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman and Caroline Binch
  • Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell
  • A Train for Jane by Norma Klein

This seems like a lot of work when I’m already in the holiday season rush.
When you’re stressed about helping yet another customer find the perfect book, isn’t it great to have something in your back pocket already? And for those shoppers in a rush, sometimes they’d rather have one great suggestion than have to comb through a bunch of books when they’re not sure what to buy. Plus, this keeps things fun for your staff! Maybe you can even have a smaller competition in-store to see who sells the most copies.

Also, each participating bookstore will get promotion through We Need Diverse Books social media channels.

This is also a great chance to familiarize yourself with a diverse book title and to learn more about why diverse books are so important, especially for young readers. Want to know more about the effects of being marginalized in literature and how it affects kids’ academic success, love (or lack thereof) of reading, and self-esteem? Visit

Okay, you’re starting to convince me. What’s the prize for selling the most books?
Bookstores: We’ll send you a package of prizes, including a beautiful print signed by Rafael López that you can hang in your store, a certificate from WNDB, and a host of other goodies. Libraries/schools: the lottery winner will receive a signed print and a certificate of thanks from WNDB.

I’m not a bookseller, teacher, OR librarian. What can I do to help?
Tweet, Facebook, blog, and email widely! Encourage the use of the #DrumItUp hashtag, and tag your friends, local librarians and teachers, authors, and local indie bookstores to get everyone onboard. If you’ve read the book, leave a review on Amazon, GoodReads, or LibraryThing. And don’t forget – walk into your nearest bookstore and buy a copy – it makes a great gift for yourself or for someone you love!

What authors will be handselling on Indies First day?
The number increases every day, but so far:

Ellen Oh – Politics and Prose, Washington, DC
Alex Gino – Mrs. Dalloway’s, Berkeley, CA
Miranda Paul – The Reader’s Loft Bookstore, Green Bay, WI
I.W. Gregorio – Chester County Book Company, West Chester, PA
Elisa Sussman – Skylight Books, Los Angeles, CA
and many more… Keep checking here as we list participants!

I’m definitely in. How do I sign up?

I have one more question…
Just email weneeddiversebooks @ yahoo . com!