September 8, 2015 (Washington, DC) – We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) has selected the winners of its short story contest to celebrate unpublished, diverse writers of all backgrounds. Kelly Baptist, the first place winner, will receive a cash prize of $1000, plus the opportunity to be published in the WNDB Middle Grade Anthology, official title to be announced, published by Crown Books for Young Readers in January 2017. Baptist is a Human Resource Specialist in Michigan. Ami Boghani, awarded second place, and Reese Eschmann, the third place winner, will receive $250 and $100 respectively. Boghani is a writer and producer based in Brooklyn, NY and Eschmann is an elementary school social worker in North Chicago.
Phoebe Yeh, VP/Publisher of Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House acquired publication rights to the anthology and Ellen Oh, President of WNDB, will edit it. Contributing authors include Kwame Alexander, Sherman Alexie, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Pena, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson. The anthology reserved one slot for a previously unpublished author, which will be filled by Baptist’s winning entry.
Yeh said of the winning entry, “I immediately responded to the strong voice and characterization in ‘The Beans and Rice Chronicles of Isaiah Dunn.’ I was also impressed with the way Ms. Baptist created a realistic family and school dynamic. Most powerful of all, Ms. Baptist shows how words are transformative: just as writing the Chronicles gave his father a creative outlet, reading the Chronicles helps Isaiah remember the father he misses.”
The anthology, in memory of Walter Dean Myers, is inspired by Myers’s quote, “Once I began to read, I began to exist.”