My Women in Publishing conference started today. It’s a little difficult to find your way around, as the majority of the presentations didn’t load properly earlier so I hope I can find them sometime today. Even is one of the four areas covered, Children’s Books, Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Publishing isn’t exactly your forte, you can view it and learn something anyway. I hope I can watch the presentations to finish them all. Paying for the conference even at a discount is a motivator for sure.
While listening to the Children’s Books segment, I discovered somethings I hadn’t considered before. Natasha Carlow and Felicia Lee gave some beautiful presentations. One about Rainbow Babies and the subject of miscarriage, subsequent pregnancies, and the family point of view on this sad, painful topic. Culture played a part in why she wanted to tell the story. Often our stories and our pain serve others. They discover they are not alone, which is key. She pointed out there are very few books regarding this topic with a black family. I can see where this could be a problem.
A child must be able to relate to the pictures of characters in the books they read. And it is true, how can a black child or Hispanic child relate to all white families in stories? It would be hard. I never considered it before. Which brings me to Felicia’s topic, Diversity and Representation. I disliked the word diversity when I first heard it. There were still not a lot of women in the IT field where I worked from 1987 until 1999. All I wanted was to do my job and earn the pay I was qualified for. The place I worked did a great job with EEO and Affirmative Action. I didn’t see a need for diversity.
What I learned today, is diversity is not just about gender, race, religion, and what I associated with it. It is about those things AND things like family structure, jobs, gender roles (do Dad’s cook? Do Mom’s work construction?), and abilities. If an author includes those things while telling a child a story, they see the story reflecting their lives. They no longer feel as if they are looking in a window and viewing something they don’t participate in. We need both kinds of stories. It’s vital to a child’s sense of self.
Being intentional in forming characters in our stories helps both minorities and majorities. It strengthens our co-existence. We can feel things in common. In my book, “What ARE You Doing, Roxie? I’m telling a story about our grandson and our dog, Roxie. Gavin and Roxie loved each other a lot. They played and walked, and were two of a kind. Someone left our gate open after July 4th, and Roxie ran away. She was hit by a car. We were all as devastated as Gavin was. It would be hard for kids of other cultures to relate to the story, from what I heard this morning. It’s a point to ponder.
Back to the Conference now. I hope you have a beautiful day. Thanks for reading. I appreciate your support. See you tomorrow!