#WeNeedDiverseBooks, bea, books, writing

Thoughts on BookCon, diversity, and traveling to New York City sans kiddos

Less than a month ago a group of 22 of us, spearheaded by Ellen Oh, asked a simple question: Why do we need diverse books? We asked everyone who cared about diversity to tell the world why. Even before the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign began, the hashtag went viral and we quickly learned that while there is a huge problem with diversity in children’s literature, this issue bothers not just a few people, it bothers the world at large.

The conversation got a lot of attention from many different places. BookCon took notice too. They invited our campaign to host a panel, interview authors, and to promote our campaign at the event.

And so, in less than 48 hours I will be in NYC to attend the panel and to finally meet in person people who have in a very short time come to mean a great deal to me. [I’m also trying to block out the fact that I will soon be on a panel with Jacqueline Woodson, Matt de la Pena, and Grace Lin because well *breathes into paper bag*]

It’s trippy seeing my name on the list of guests at BookCon. [And I’m so not going to lie. The fact that my name is there right by Amy Poehler makes me wonder each time if this is all just a funny surreal dream.]

It’s also surreal that for about 36 hours I’ll be away from my kids. I’ll sit in a plane with a book instead of a baby. I’ll wake to an alarm clock instead of a kiddo jumping on my pillow. And while I’ll miss them I’m going to try my best to enjoy this rare time too. This 36 hours of me, myself, and I- a pleasure I rarely sink into.

I thought I’d be panicking right now. But so far, all is strangely calm. Maybe it’s because I know that while I am speaking at this panel, this panel is absolutely not about me at all. It’s about diversity in literature and why it matters. It’s about introducing our organization which is committed to that very goal. It’s about hoping one day a panel like this will never be needed. Because it will be an issue of the past.  I guess I’m not nervous yet because I know why I’m doing it: For my kids. We all deserve to have our stories told. We all deserve to be understood. That’s what this is all about.

If you’re in New York City hope to see you there! I’ll be tweeting about my 36 hour journey to NYC though hopefully will get a chance to write about it too when I return. Hope you and yours are well and warm happy vibes much appreciated!

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