Public Engagement

General Public

We Need Diverse Books

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 6:30 pm

Klein Conference Room, Room A510, Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall Room 510, 66 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10011

We Need Diverse Books is a grassroots organization created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature. We are committed to the ideal that embracing diversity will lead to acceptance, empathy, and ultimately equality. Our mission is to promote or amplify diversification efforts and increase visibility for diverse books and authors, with a goal of empowering a wide range of readers in the process. 

Panel discussion with Allie Jane Bruce, Sona Charaipotra, Dhonelle ClaytonTim Federle and Renée Watson.

Allie Jane Bruce is the Children’s Librarian at the Bank Street College of Education, where she works on a project with 6th-graders that explores diversity, identity, and advocacy through children’s literature. She received her Master’s in Library Science from The Pratt Institute, reviews children’s books for Shelf Awareness, and will serve on the 2016 Newbery Committee. She began her career as a bookseller at Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, DC. 

A journalist published by the New York Times, People, ABC News, Cosmopolitan and other major national media, Sona Charaipotra curates a column on YA books and teen culture for She double-majored in journalism and American Studies at Rutgers before getting her masters in screenwriting from New York University (where her thesis project was developed for the screen by MTV Films) and her MFA from the New School. Sona puts her outline-obsession to good use as the co-founder of CAKE Literary, a boutique book development company with a decidedly diverse bent. Her debut novel, Tiny Pretty Things (with CAKE co-founder Dhonielle Clayton), is due summer 2015 from HarperTeen. 

Dhonielle Clayton spent most of her childhood under her grandmother’s table with a stack of books. She hails from the Washington, D.C. suburbs on the Maryland side. She earned an MA in Children’s Literature from Hollins University and an MFA in Writing for Children at the New School. She taught secondary school for several years. Now, she is a librarian at Harlem Village Academies and co-founder of CAKE Literary, a creative kitchen whipping up decadent — and decidedly diverse — literary confections for middle grade, young adult, and women’s fiction readers. Her debut novel Tiny Pretty Things with Sona Charaipotra hits shelves in 2015 from Harper Teen. 

Tim Federle grew up in San Francisco and Pittsburgh before moving to New York to dance on Broadway. Tim’s debut novel for kids, Better Nate Than Never was named a New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book of 2013 and a best book of the year by, Amazon, the American Booksellers Association, and Publishers Weekly. The sequel, Five, Six, Seven, Nate!, was named an Amazon Best Book of 2014 (So Far). 

Renée Watson is the author of This Side of Home and Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills. Her work has received several honors including an NAACP Image Award nomination in children’s literature. Her novel, What Momma Left Me, debuted as the New Voice for 2010 in middle grade fiction. Her one woman show, Roses are Red Women are Blue, debuted at the Lincoln Center at a showcase for emerging artists. A Place Where Hurricanes Happen (Random House, 2010), is based on poetry workshops she facilitated with children in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Renée grew up in Portland, Oregon and currently lives in New York City.

Sponsored by the MFA Creative Writing Program.

Event Type

Lectures and Panel Discussions


General Public


Writing and Literature


Schools of Public Engagement, Creative Writing Program


Writing, Storytelling and Communication, Social Justice


Free; no tickets or reservations required; seating is first-come, first-served

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By Train:
The 4, 5, 6, N, R, Q and L to 14th St./Union Square.
The A, C and E to 14th St. and 8th Ave.
The 1, 2 and 3 to 14th St. and 7th Ave.
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