I am thrilled to announce that I’ve signed on as a consultant with MERGE for Equality to support their Children’s Book Campaign. This nonprofit organization based in Florence, MA seeks “to engage people and communities in transforming masculinity to advance gender equality.” The campaign is aimed at selecting and disseminating books to early childhood and elementary school educators that will help foster children’s critical engagement with themes of gender equality, positive masculinities, and disrupting the strict gender binary that dominates discourse across American society, including children’s literature.
Last spring MERGE staff selected Made by Raffi by Craig Pomranz and Margaret Chamberlain as the first title in the campaign, and they distributed copies at their June 2017 annual summit. A bookplate with questions to guide discussion was included, and I am helping to build on this work in the coming months. They have asked me to select a long-list of 15-25 picture books for an advisory group of educators, parents, and other caregivers to review and select five additional titles for distribution throughout the campaign.
So far I have come up with a list of about 20 titles that the advisory group (which is still being formed–send me an email if you’re interested in learning more about this group and possibly participating) will evaluate and then recommend for inclusion in the first year of the campaign. Rather than share that list here now, I’d like to solicit ideas from readers to see how many of the titles I’ve already chosen come to your minds (which could reinforce them as good selections) and to see if you have ideas I’ve not yet thought of.
A few notes on what I am looking for:
- The picture books must be in print, and we are interested in paperback editions as an option. Board books are ok, too.
- I am prioritizing picture books that feature contemporary, human characters, rather than anthropomorphic animals or objects-as-characters.
- I am committed to including picture books by diverse authors and illustrators.
My recent post on Facebook about this initiative has already generated some good ideas, and I got a little feedback on Twitter, too. Here’s hoping for more input from readers of my blog, as well.