Friday, February 19, 2016

Westside Writers Mingle Talks Diversity: A Recap of the February 3, 2016 Mingle

By Rebecca Light

This month at the SCBWI Westside Mingle, our micro community discussed diversity, spurred by two picture books released in the past year—both depicting stories of American slavery—A Fine Dessert, and A Birthday Cake for George Washington.

The initial critical response to these books had our room of writers both discussing Scholastic’s decision to recall one of the books, and then talking about how to appropriately introduce challenging topics to children of picture book age. The feeling in the room was that children age five and up were equipped to explore difficult topics, so presenting only a seeming “bright” side of these topics doesn’t seem to be necessary. If that is the case, perhaps these books exemplified a failure of nerve to tell a complex story to young people?

The discussion broadened out to our responsibility as writers. Diverse stories need more representation, so how do we get there? How does a writer tell a story outside their ethnicity, class, ability, experience, etc.— while maintaining the integrity of that experience? Is it even their story to tell? On the flipside, how does a writer resist being pigeonholed to write only from their one worldview?

Our group offered some suggestions for tackling these challenges, but agreed it is most important to support diversity by buying and reading books by writers and illustrators from underrepresented groups. Literature may be an art form but it makes its way into society as a business. If the market demands diverse books, publishers will supply diverse books.

If you want to read further, here are a few of the many links on either the subject of the two picture books mentioned above or on diversity in kidlit. There are many, many fine discussions and threads on this topic other than what we have listed here, and it would serve every writer to spend some time reading them.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Westside Illustrators Schmingling

Experience success with your work! 
  SCBWI Westside Illustrators (and Writers) Schmingle!
WHEN: Monday Evening, February 15, 2016
                        7:00pm to 9:00pm

WHERE: 445 15th Street, Santa Monica CA 90402

              A two story Spanish-style private home. 
                 5 blocks north of Wilshire, btwn Montana & San Vicente.
                   FREE residential street parking !

TOPIC: Dipping Your Toe in the Water...                 
                   Bring your expertise and share!!

 *  Venues and Avenues for Selling Your Work

            From online stores to POD's to vending faires

 *  Submissions to Contests and Competitions               

             From conferences to grants to art shows                    

  Enter our drawing for our fabulous DOOR-PRIZE!                                
AND every month... Inspire us with your artwork in progress!  
"Doodle a Day " for inspiration!
"Dream Big... Start Small! " with baby steps!

Our mission.....
Let's enjoy a fun creative evening together
& move forward in our common pursuit
of making a contribution to the world of  
children's illustration and literature!      
RSVP preferred ... 
GOODIES? sure :)
See you soon!.... Suzy8-)