According to We Need Diverse Books (WNDB), in 2013 only 10% of all youth books featured diverse characters. Although this number has been increasing over the pursuing years, there is still a need to provide diverse books to children, teens, and adults spanning across all cultures and communities.
“Diversity is a priority for SCLSNJ, and libraries across the country,” said Laura Frantz, SCLSNJ collection development librarian. “We want to make sure our collections reflect our communities, and that children and teens have the opportunity to see themselves in the pages of a book.”
Barnes & Noble and the Somerset County Library System of New Jersey (SCLSNJ) will be hosting a diversity-focused teen and tween author panel comprised of authors Nisha Sharma, Sayantani DasGupta, Mark Oshiro, and Tracey Baptiste. The panel will be hosted on June 16, 11 a.m. at Barnes & Noble, Bridgewater, located at 319 Route 202/206 in Bridgewater.
“I’m really thrilled our local teens have the opportunity to interact with such a diverse and talented group of authors. This event provides teens the chance to not only see themselves reflected in literature, equally they are exposed to other cultures. Rich characters and settings in literature can open the doors for teens to begin a journey towards global and cultural competence and responsibility. That’s powerful stuff!” said Nicolle M. Anthony, community business development manager at Barnes & Noble, Bridgewater.
Meet the Authors
- Nisha Sharma grew up immersed in Bollywood movies, eighties pop culture, and romance novels, so it comes as no surprise that her first novel “My So-Called Bollywood Life” features all three. Nisha credits her father for her multiple graduate degrees and her mother for her love of Shah Rukh Khan and Jane Austen. She lives in New Jersey with her cat, Lizzie Bennett, and her dog, Nancy Drew.
- Sayantani DasGupta grew up hearing stories about brave princesses, bloodthirsty rakkhosh, and flying pokkhiraj horses. She is a pediatrician by training, but now teaches at Columbia University. When she’s not writing or reading, Sayantani spends time watching cooking shows with her trilingual children and protecting her black labrador retriever Khushi from the many things that scare him, including plastic bags.
- Mark Oshiro is the Hugo-nominated writer of the online Mark Does Stuff universe, where he analyzes book and TV series. He was the nonfiction editor of “Queers Destroy Science Fiction!,” the co-editor of “Speculative Fiction 2015,” and is the president of the Con or Bust board of directors. When not writing reviews or editing, Oshiro engages in social activism. “Anger is a Gift” is his debut young adult contemporary fiction novel.
- Tracey Baptiste is the author of fifteen books for children, including the middle grade series “The Jumbies,” “Angel’s Grace,” and “The Totally Gross History Of Ancient Egypt.” She has also contributed to the adult horror anthology “Sycorax’s Daughters” which was shortlisted for the Bram Stoker award in 2018. Look for her official Minecraft novel, “The Crash,” in July 2018, and the third installment in the Jumbies series, “The Jumbie God’s Revenge,” in fall 2019.
Light refreshments will be served. Giveaway opportunities will be available for attendees. A portion of all sales proceeds will be donated to the Somerset County Library Foundation. SCLSNJ librarians will be available to help teens and tweens discover their next favorite book. Register to attend: facebook.com/events/252742551941396.