Two years ago, I had a vision for a panel discussing diversity in children's and young adult literature IN Canada. I have attended such panels and conferences in the United States and followed American diversity #kidlit and #yalit discussions on social media for years now but seeing little of the sort in Canada. It took a few proposals, conversations, and several e-mails and one conference I had to turn down for what I thought were unrealistic economic demands of my panelists. Fast forward to yesterday and the vision came true. I organised and moderated a panel called A Conversation on Diversity in #kidlit and #yalit preceded by the Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators, and Performers (CANSCAIP). I am so pleased to have shared this stage with such amazing and accomplished individuals-- Karen Li (editorial director at @owlkids), Jael Richardson (host of Q, author, and founder/artistic director of The Festival of Literary Diversity, FOLD), and award-winning authors Tanaz Bhathena and SK Ali. It was a fruitful and very necessary conversation which I am so glad we had and I pray that it has begun a larger, necessary, and continued conversation about diverse books in Canada. We had an almost full house and one question from the audience. Apparently my statistics, facts, and questions ranging from representation and influences to representation and #ownvoices, covered "it all". My prayer is that this is only the beginning of a much needed conversation. (Photos credits: CANSCAIP, Ishta Mercurio, Shamaila J)
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