Read a Book to a Child on International Women's Day
For anyone paying attention to the news coming out of the world of children’s publishing these days, International Women’s Day might take on a new sheen of relevance.
Some are dubbing this the “year of the woman,” and that seems to be an apt description. At the political level, we’re seeing more women than ever before run for office. In the land of media, women are banding together in a #metoo movement to oust those in power who have benefited from the degradation and abuse of women. And in the movies, women are kicking butt.
And the kidlit world is taking a good, hard look at itself, too. After a series of revelations, including accusations of harassment and abuse and the statistical breakdown of major awards along gender lines, companies and individuals are making strides toward revealing the shortfalls of the industry in terms of gender equality and discussing how we can fix this.
As someone working in children’s publishing, I read all the articles, blog posts, and even the comments with an eye toward how my decisions and behavior compares. What would I do in this situation? How would I try to resolve that issue? As we seek out authors for our 2019 and 2020 seasons, we keep these revelations in mind.
Another aspect of our own publishing program we’re looking at is the diversity of the women we feature in our Girls in Science series. This series has always meant, in part, to provide mentors for young girls who are looking to the future with aspirations in science, engineering, and technology. Researchers have found that girls who see women achieving success in scientific fields are more likely to stick with their chosen field, even as setbacks and discouragement become part of their academic experience.
With this idea of mentorship in mind, we have populated these books with stories of women from all backgrounds and ethnicities. For the 2018 season, we are revamping the look and editorial direction of this series to focus more on groundbreakers and visionaries who paved the world for today’s scientists, and we’re doing it in such a way that we can include more figures from history—including women of color, who have often been skipped over when history books were written.
This International Women’s Day, I’m going to read a book about a strong woman to my young sons. That’s the best way I know to celebrate and sow the seeds for a greater future.