The Birthday Party Pledge emerged from an ongoing conversation between authors, educators, librarians, and book bloggers. We wanted to promote children’s books by authors of color, and we wanted to encourage the building of home libraries in low-income communities. According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, less than 5% of all books published annually for children in the US are written by people of color. Many publishers insist that they can’t find more writers of color and/or claim that the market doesn’t exist for books about children of color. Yet a study conducted by the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation revealed that many adults want to purchase multicultural books and are simply unable to find them:
Nearly eight in ten (78%) U.S. adults believe that it is important for children to be exposed to picture books that feature main characters of various ethnicities or races—but one-third (33%) report that it is difficult to find such books, according to a recent survey that was commissioned by The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the love of reading and learning in all children.
Some parents simply can’t afford to buy books, and we encourage all families to draw on the resources available at their local public library. In other cases, buying books for children is a matter of shifting priorities and redirecting resources. Compared to video games and other toys, books are relatively inexpensive (and can often be purchased “like new” from online resellers). Buying books locally puts money back into your community, and we encourage you to support those independent bookstores that carry multicultural books.
The BPP has two goals:
1. To encourage childhood literacy in order to promote a lifelong love of books.
2. To assist adults in providing children with books that truly reflect the diverse society in which we live.
Meet our team!
Ari runs Reading in Color, a book blog dedicated to reviewing Young Adult books about people of color with occasional Middle Grade, adult fiction and non-fiction reviews. Ari also wrote reviews for Multicultural Review and will soon be writing reviews for GreatBooksforOurKids. She is currently a senior in high school and is an avid bookworm. She is eager to take part in the Birthday Book Pledge initiative and raise awareness of the importance of ethnic diversity in literature. She urges all readers to keep in mind: “If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
Doret has a B.A. in Political Science from Clark Atlanta University. She worked at Borders Books for 10 years and blogs at The Happy Nappy Bookseller. She loves reading, is deeply invested in multicultural children’s literature, and is very excited to take part in this new endeavor.
Edi is a mother, librarian, quilter, and educator. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Cincinnati and MLS from Indiana University. Her passion is promoting literacy in teens of color and she does this on her blog, CrazyQuiltEdi, and in her work as a school librarian in Indiana.
Jill has Master’s Degrees in Library Science and Political Science and maintains a blog, Rhapsody in Books. She is firmly committed to the ideas of Rudine Sims Bishop, who wrote, “Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.” She considers this blog a wonderful step in that direction.
Lyn is the author of multicultural reference books and fiction, most recently the novel Gringolandia, a 2010 ALA Best Book for Young Adults and a 2010 Américas Award Honor Book from the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs. She is the former editor of MultiCultural Review and is currently a student in the MFA program in Writing for Children & Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She reviews children’s and YA books for Readergirlz, The Pirate Tree, and the “Waging Peace” blog of the (Albany, NY) Times-Union.
Zetta has a PhD in American Studies and teaches in the Center for Ethnic Studies at Borough of Manhattan Community College. She is author of the award-winning picture book, Bird (2008), A Wish After Midnight (2010), and Ship of Souls (2012). At her blog, Fledgling, she advocates for greater equity and diversity in the children’s publishing industry.