We Need Diverse Books™ and School Library Journal release Booktalking Kits

by We Need Diverse Books

New York, New York – May 28, 2015 – We Need Diverse Books (WNDB)™, School Library Journal (SLJ) and the American Booksellers Association (ABA) are partnering to produce Booktalking Kits designed to help shed light on children’s literature about diverse characters and/or written by diverse authors. The kits give teachers, librarians and booksellers the tools they need to discuss these works with their students, patrons and customers. Booktalking Kits are a starting point for discovery and will be delivered via the Spring 2015 ABA Children’s White Boxes, as well as online at diversebooks.org and www.slj.com.

“Contrary to popular belief, diversity does sell,” says Sarah Hannah Gomez, a WNDB™ Librarian. “That’s why it was so difficult to put together this list and whittle it down to only 30 titles! In the end, 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. I’m so happy that these great books will have the chance to get into the hands of even more readers, and I can’t wait to get started on our next kit.”

“The WNDB Booktalking Kit represents a significant next step toward expanding awareness of diverse books,” says SLJ Executive Editor Kathy Ishizuka. “From middle grade and high school titles to picture books, WNDB has provided a rich range of selections that we hope will be shared widely, not just within the library and book community, but to schools and families as well. The shelftalkers and cards for finding comparative diverse titles are creative tools that, as the kit says, represent a ‘point of discovery’ for diverse books, and School Library Journal is proud to support this project.”

The WNDB Booktalking Kits are inspired by the “Cheat Sheet for Selling Diversity” presented by Newbery Honor-winning author Grace Lin during the We Need Diverse Books™ panel at BookCon 2014. In her tenure as a bookseller, Grace saw firsthand how easy it was for people to pigeonhole diverse books into a “special interest” box. She found that pitching books using their universal hooks is the most effective way to sell them to readers.

For the Booktalking Kits, WNDB also sought to provide additional concrete tools for booksellers, librarians and teachers to “hand sell” these books. As such, the kits provide comparative titles, suggestions for target audiences and shelftalkers for the titles chosen by WNDB librarians.

The Booktalking Kits include:

1) A introduction and WNDB campaign 1-sheet
2) Three lists of 10 WNDB™ picks (YA, MG and PB) with
a) a basic 50-75 word description that emphasizes their universal appeal
b) suggestions for comparative titles
c) “Perfect for….” recommendations
3) Shelftalkers (those 3×5 cards bookstores have on their shelves calling out recommendations) for each WNDB™ pick
4) Shelftalkers for comparative titles to direct them to the WNDB™ pick
5) A WNDB™ sign so teachers, librarians and booksellers can easily create WNDB™ displays

WNDB™ and School Library Journal plan to produce Booktalking Kits twice a year.

Beginning June 1, 2015, WNDB™ will also be launching a follow-up to last year’s very popular Summer Reading Series, where they compare well-known recent titles to similar diversified reads. “The Summer Reading Series is a group effort, and it reflects the collective knowledge of the WNDB™ team,” says Allie Jane Bruce, a WNDB™ Librarian. “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.”

The Summer Reading Series will be posted via WNDB’s website, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.