#AuthorsTakeAction and Spread Message to Readers: Stay Home

Padma Venkatraman created #AuthorsTakeAction and middle grade and YA authors joined in the cause to impress upon their readers the importance of following social distancing guidelines.

Padma Venkatraman wanted to reach out to young readers, who she worried were not taking the novel coronavirus and social distancing guidelines seriously enough. The author of The Bridge Home, winner of the SCBWI Golden Kite Award for middle grade fiction and the Walter Dean Myers Award for young readers, wanted to do something to find a way to use her platform to make a point.

"Unusual times, unusual measures," Venkatraman wrote on her blog. "I don’t usually blog more than once a month, but an idea popped into my head that I can’t get rid of.

"Last week, I heard from a parent and then a teacher, both of whom were speaking about how hard it is for young people to stay home. Yesterday, when I was taking a walk on a beach, I saw a group of teens playing contact football. They were crying 'Stay 6 feet away!' as though it were a joke."

Venkatraman felt powerless, she wrote, but then remembered feeling empowered when she heard Julia Erin Torres during the 2020 Kweli Color of Children's Literature Conference, which went virtual earlier this month. With renewed confidence to try to make a difference, Venkatraman had an idea.

"What if authors were to take action on social media, using a simple hashtag, #AuthorsTakeAction, to show that we’re taking this pandemic seriously? What if we were to do something quick and simple--just take photographs of ourselves wearing home-made PPE, or create a quick video message?"

Then she reached out to some author friends, who agreed to help the cause.

"Our readers are frustrated and looking for guidance from people they trust: celebrities, athletes, teachers, authors," she explained on her blog post. "Let’s use our platform to reach them with an important message: Take social distancing seriously. Save lives. Our emergency personnel need our support."

The initiative launched Thursday, April 9, to "show readers that we stand together by being apart."

Middle grade and YA authors took to Twitter to support the project. Venkatraman started it with her own photo and tweet:

"#AuthorsTakeAction Sometimes heroism is as simple as being kind to others you live with. Or washing your hands often. Or staying away from friends because you care for them. When we get through this you’ll look back with pride at your patience, small acts of kindness & creativity."

Here are some of the photos and messages shared by authors on Twitter.

Grace Lin (left) and Lance Rubin

I.W. Gregorio (left) and Nikki Grimes


Torrey Maldonado (left) and Meg Medina

E.C. Myers

Author Image
Kara Yorio

Kara Yorio (kyorio@mediasourceinc.com, @karayorio) is senior news editor at School Library Journal.

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