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First Book Canada seeks publishing partners in campaign for greater kidlit diversity

PrintThe literacy charity First Book (along with its Canadian arm, First Book Canada) is hoping to address the lack of diversity within children’s literature by adopting a “market-driven solution” to the problem.

The non-profit organization – which is based in Washington, D.C., and has a Toronto office – is promising to purchase 10,000 copies of titles selected for its Stories for All Project, which was launched last year in an effort to put books featuring minority characters into the hands of young, underprivileged readers. First Book will also fund the paperback publication of diverse titles previously available only in expensive hardcover formats. These books will be “available at special prices exclusively for the schools and organizations First Book serves,” First Book’s website notes.

Also for the first time, Canadian publishers are eligible to submit titles to the program.

First Book president and CEO Kyle Zimmer tells Publishers Weekly that the organization is putting its money where its mouth is by launching the initiative: “We’re asking the publishing industry to publish more [diverse] books but they can’t be put in this position when the market is unproven…. We’re putting the full strength of First Book behind the need for diversity, and reaching out in partnership with publishers.”

The initiative comes as the campaign for greater diversity in U.S. kidlit – launched under the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks – has gone viral.