On July 29, the We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) Tumblr blog reported that the viral campaign and hashtag has also filed “for incorporation as a non-profit organization in the state of Pennsylvania.” The same blog post also announced the newly incorporated non-profit’s advisory board members in the form of familiar YA and children’s authors Grace Lin, Jacqueline Woodson, Matt de la Peña, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and Cindy Pon.
“Each of these members has a history of advocating for diverse books, and is a pioneer in the field of children’s literature,” said Ellen Oh, president of WeNeedDiverseBooks. “They will not only increase our visibility as an organization, but light the way going forward.”
“The WeNeedDiverseBooks movement is so necessary and relevant, especially as the demographic shifts in this country,” says board member de la Peña. “But it’s important that people know this isn’t an ‘instead of’ campaign, it’s ‘also.’ Books featuring diverse characters, written by diverse authors, are worthy, too, and it’s time we had a seat at the table.”
With many exciting projects in the works, including a Diversity Festival planned for 2016, a grant program to support diverse authors, bring diversity into the classroom with collaborations with First Book and the National Education Association, and develop a “diversity toolkit” for librarians and booksellers, the momentum for We Need Diverse Books is not slowing down, but in fact, gaining real traction, and, it seems, potential for long-term change in the publishing industry.
One of the reasons for incorporating, says Lamar Giles, the vice-president of communications, is to “give us the legitimacy and standing we need to move forward with our mission.”