NaNoWrimo x YAP: Every Story Matters
Stories are the creative basis of human connection.
They encourage organic artistry, form culturally-shifting conversation, and expose the beauties and tragedies of society. Wouldn’t it be important for stories to share the intricacies of various forms of identity (e.g., race, gender, class, ability, age)? Absolutely. Then, is this common practice within the publishing industry? Well, let’s take a look at some statistics.
A 2022 report by Zippia showed that, in the United States, the common ethnicity of authors is White (79.4%), followed by Hispanic/Latinx (7.2%), Black or African American (5.8%), and Asian (4%). More specifically, a 2020 CCBC study researched children’s books and reported the following: “12.1% of children’s books… featured a [Black]/African main character and 7.6% were written by a [Black]/African author.” Additionally, there was a 23% decrease in children’s bestsellers that have Black main characters, according to WordsRated. While the lack of representation is evident, the importance of creating space for diverse stories is not lessened.
To further promote diverse literature, we’ve partnered with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that assists writers’ manuscript development. Every November, NaNoWriMo hosts the following challenge: draft an entire novel in one month. And through their Young Writers Program, under-18 writers and K-12 educators are able to participate in the event and let their imagination take over. By partnering with Black and Brown publishers, such as Young Authors Publishing (YAP), this NaNoWriMo program, and others, ensures that underrepresented young writers have an avenue to share both their stories and their voices. Youth can read stories, write stories, and publish stories that reflect the reality of their existence and identity.
Similar to NaNoWriMo, Young Authors Publishing hosts a four-month “Experience Program.” Starting in January of each year, young authors are paired with trained writing mentors to help them conceptualize and write their own children’s books. Once manuscripts are finalized, young authors attend workshops that focus on the fundamentals of financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and public speaking. Through this program, Young Authors Publishing empower young authors to use their words to change the dialogue around representation in literature. And the stories curated from this experience mirror YAP’s mission: to publish books for children and young adults that reflect the diversity of this world.
As NaNoWriMo states on their homepage, “Every story matters.” And the responsibility is on us–publishers, organizations, educators, etc–to generate writing communities and literature that reflects the diversity of the world. Only then can young readers truly experience the rewards of implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion in both publishing and literary spaces.
About NaNoWrimo | nanowrimo.org/
NaNoWriMo is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that believes in the transformational power of creativity. They provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people use their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.