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10 March 2018

Zetta's Visit

Thursday I had the pleasure of hosting Zetta Elliott at the University of Glasgow. Zetta is the author of over 30 books for both kids and adults, and she is a fierce advocate for books that reflect all children.
She quoted Rudine Sims Bishop saying, "Children's books should be mirrors, windows and sliding glass doors." In other words, children should be able to see themselves in the books they read, peek into the lives of others, and open a door to fully immerse themselves in both. She shared disturbing statistics of the trends in publishing and made us examine current efforts towards correcting embedded patterns in the industry.

Photo © Osman Coban
Zetta talked about privilege and how authors of color often-times end up self-publishing because of the closed doors in traditional publishing—a problem that sets off a chain reaction. Bookstores rarely sell self-published books, which perpetuates an industry based on privilege. She talked about the markets waiting for books, serious buying power where publishers claim there is no market. She talked about how internships without power aren't enough to drive change, that diversity hiring should be higher up to avoid indoctrinating young publishers into the established (and flawed) paradigm. She talked about how publishers are hiring white authors to write 'diverse' books. Truly, it was an educational and important talk that made all of us look at these important topics with a more critical eye.
Personally, it was lovely to spend lunch, two train rides, and dinner with Zetta. We talked and shared ideas for hours! It was such an honor to get to know this dynamic author! Here I am with Suzanne, Melanie, Zetta, and Evelyn at a well-earned fall-apart dinner.

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