Friday, June 8, 2012

15 Authors Who Promote Diversity in Author Visits

One great aspect of the CBC Diversity blog is that we can highlight and celebrate many exciting new voices. We can also offer valuable resources for teachers, authors, librarians, and publishing industry insiders who want to incorporate more diverse and multicultural authors to their curriculum, or collection, or reading list, or professional network.

If you are a teacher or librarian who is looking to diversify your author visit experience, here is a small sample of authors to consider — including a few new names that you may not already know.

This list is in no way comprehensive. Stay tuned to the CBC Diversity blog for a more robust directory of authors 
— from the many CBC member publishers — who actively promote diversity through author visits to schools, libraries, and state and regional conferences. If you would like to be included in our directory of authors, please comment below or send us an email.

Full Disclosure: It is my job to arrange paid author appearances and some of the authors listed here include authors I represent. I really enjoy working with my authors and take every opportunity I can to promote their amazing work.

Young Adult Authors

Photo: Dulce Baron
Malín Alegria author of Estrella's Quinceañera (Simon & Schuster) and Border Town (Scholastic), has been performing for school and adult audiences for over ten years. She uses her background in education and theater to create presentations that engage, entertain, and inspire. Her workshops aim to embolden her audiences to follow their dreams, demystify the life of a writer, and learn to set their creativity loose. She uses Edutainment to motivate reluctant readers and capture the hearts of young people looking for strong Latino role models. In 2009 she was selected a San Francisco Library Laureate. She lives in San Jose, California.

Justina Chen's newest novel, North of Beautiful (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), is a Walden Award finalist. Her debut novel, Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies), won the 2007 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature. Her follow-up, Girl Overboard, was a Junior Library Guild Premier Selection. A former speechwriter and executive communications manager, Justina often speaks about her experience with writing both critically-acclaimed novels and crafting Tweet-worthy C-suite-level speeches. Although she has presented at prestigious venues like the Mayo Clinic, NASDAQ, SAS, and Microsoft, she also loves speaking at schools, colleges, libraries, and conferences.

Photo: Ken Esten Cooke
Diana López is the author of the middle grade novel, Confetti Girl (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) and the YA novel, Choke (Scholastic). She has been featured on NPR’s Latino USA and is the 2004 winner of the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Award, sponsored by author Sandra Cisneros. Diana teaches English at the University of Houston in Victoria Texas. She frequently visits schools in Texas and across the country.

Francisco  X. Stork is the author of several novels including Marcelo in the Real World (Arthur A. Levine /Scholastic), winner of the 2010 Schneider Family Book Award; Behind the Eyes (Dutton); and Irises (Arthur A. Levine /Scholastic). He often speaks across the country.
Middle Grade Authors

Matt de la Peña has written four novels: Ball Don’t LieMexican White BoyWe Were Here and I Will Save You (all Delacorte Books for Young Readers). His books have received many awards including ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adults (Top Ten Pick), ALA-YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Notable Book for a Global Society, Junior Library Guild Selection, Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Literature Blue Ribbon List and NYC Public Library Stuff for the Teen Age list. de la Peña currently lives in Brooklyn, NY – he teaches creative writing at NYU and visits high schools and colleges all over the country.

Lulu Delacre’s award-winning books for children include Arrorró, mi niño: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games (Lee & Low), and Salsa Stories (Scholastic), an IRA Outstanding International Book and the Pura Belpré Award Honor Book. When appropriate, Lulu often discusses diversity during school and library visits, "I stress the importance of keeping one's heritage and language. I explain how my Latino heritage has been a source of inspiration for my books."

Torrey Maldonado is a teacher and author who was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Overcoming his neighborhood's poverty and violence, he went on to get a BA in Sociology from Vassar College and a Master's Degree in Educational Administration from Baruch College. For nearly 10 years, he has taught in the New York City public school system. Before that, he trained teachers and administrators to run conflict resolution programs. His middle-grade novel Secret Saturdays (Putnam Juvenile) is inspired by his experiences with youth, city schools, fatherlessness, and poverty.

Trent Reedy
is the author of the Christopher Award winning middle-grade novel Words in the Dust, an Al Roker's Book Club pick on the Today Show. Born and raised in Iowa, where he taught high school English, Trent and his wife now live in Spokane, Washington. Trent's presentations focus on his writing in general and the war in Afghanistan. He's also available for Skype visits.

Alexandre Ferron
Grace Lin is the author and illustrator of picture books, early readers and middle grade novels. Grace's 2010 Newbery Honor book Where The Mountain Meets the Moon (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) was chosen for Al Roker's Today Show Kid's Book Club and was a New York Times Bestseller. Ling & Ting (LB Kids), Grace's first early reader, was honored with the Theodor Geisel Honor in 2011. An Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award nominee for the US, most of Grace's books are about the Asian-American experience because she believes, "Books erase bias, they make the uncommon everyday, and the mundane exotic. A book makes all cultures universal."

Jewell Parker Rhodes teaches creative writing at Arizona State University. She also travels globally teaching creative writing to middle grade, high school, and college students, and helping her ASU students experience and teach in global settings like China, Singapore, and Wales. Her book Ninth Ward (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) received numerous awards and accolades including the Coretta Scott King Honor.

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is the author of 8th Grade Superzero (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic), an IRA Notable Book for a Global Society, and NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People.  She holds a Master’s in Education, a Certificate in the Teaching of Writing, and loves incorporating many different ways of working and playing into her author visits and workshops.

Alex Sanchez is the author of the Rainbow Boys trilogy of teen novels, along with The God Box and the Lambda Award-winning middle-grade novel So Hard to Say (all Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). His novel, Bait, won the 2009 Florida Book Award Gold Medal for YA fiction. Alex received his master’s degree in guidance and counseling from Old Dominion University and for many years worked as a youth and family counselor. His newest novel, Boyfriends with Girlfriends (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers), explores the lives of bisexual teens. He often speaks across the country about diversity, bullying and other related topics.

Picture Book Authors

Brian Collier is the illustrator of over 10 picture books, including Martin's Big Words and Rosa (both Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award winners); and Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope, a New York Times bestseller. Mr. Collier lives in Harlem, where he directs mural programs throughout the city for any child who wants to paint. He frequently visits classrooms to talk with teachers, librarians, and students about books and art.

New York Times bestselling and award-winning author, Andrea Davis Pinkney, is best known for her biographies about extraordinary African-Americans.  She has written more than 20 books for children, including the Caldecott Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Honor Book Duke Ellington (Hyperion Books for Children), illustrated by Brian Pinkney; Let it Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters (Harcourt Children's Books), a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and winner of the Carter G. Woodson Award. Her interactive presentations can be tailored to many audiences including students and teachers, children and adults.

Photo: Joe Cepeda
Joe Cepeda is the award-winning illustrator of more than 20 books for children. A sought-after public speaker to schools and conferences, Joe relishes every new opportunity to share his experience and advocate for his craft. He currently lives in Southern California with his wife and son. Joe explains his visits this way, "Certainly, one of my goals is to infuse an assuredness in young people that their voices are singular and true, yet amazingly universal in appeal. A young person should  feel whatever his or her circumstance, resplendent or modest, one's story is worth sharing- there should be no hesitancy in doing so, the challenge lies in the art and poetry of it."


  1. Several Native authors come to mind. Cynthia Leitich Smith, Joseph Bruchac, and Tim Tingle.

    Next week, I'll see Tim and Joe at the 2012 Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums meeting in Tulsa.

    Tim, myself, and two librarians are doing a session on the Top 100 Books by Indigenous Authors that we think ought to be in every library.

    Among my list of books for that Top 100 are Tim's SALTYPIE, Cynthia's JINGLE DANCER, and Joe's HIDDEN ROOTS. Each one of them have several books that are on the list.

  2. I also meant to say that I think authors and editors would learn a lot about what-to-do and what-not-to-do by attending conferences like ATALM.

    Here's the link to the ATALM website:

  3. Thanks for the shout out! Danette Vigilante is another fabulous author (THE TROUBLE WITH HALF A MOON), and she's started a wonderful visit program called WILL READ 4 FOOD that engages students in issues of hunger and food justice. Details here:


  4. Thanks for the author names Debbie!

  5. I'm Margaree King Mitchell. I'd like to be included in the directory. I'm the author of picture books WHEN GRANDMAMA SINGS, UNCLE JED'S BARBERSHOP, and GRANDDADDY'S GIFT. I have three programs which I present for students. 1) EveryBody Has A Dream, 2) Sing Your Song, 3) The Right To Vote. I can be reached at

  6. Thanks Margaree. We'll keep you posted on any updates to our resources page.