Nearly 700 children’s literature professionals have signed A Declaration in Support of Children, released by The Brown Bookshelf on November 14. These authors, illustrators, librarians, and other supporters have affirmed a “commitment to using our talents and varied forms of artistic expression to help eliminate the fear that takes root in the human heart amid lack of familiarity and understanding of others.”
Issued in response to the recent election, which “has exposed the fault lines that continue to polarize us,” the declaration recognizes the power of literature to foster empathy, encourage critical thinking, and influence values early in life. In this statement against bigotry and xenophobia, the authors pledge, “For our young readers, we will create stories that offer authentic and recognizable reflections of themselves, as well as relatable insight into experiences which on the surface appear markedly different. We will use our books to affect a world brimming with too many instances of hostility and injustice. We will plant seeds of empathy, fairness and empowerment through words and pictures.”
Among the signers are VCFA faculty members Daniel José Older, Sharon Darrow, Liz Garton Scanlon, Kekla Magoon (’05), William Alexander, Uma Krishnaswami, and Cynthia Leitich Smith. Dozens of WCYA alumni and students have also attached their names to the statement, including Varian Johnson (’09), one of the founders of The Brown Bookshelf.
The Brown Bookshelf is a group of authors and illustrators dedicated to raising awareness of African American children’s book creators. A “living” version of the Declaration in Support of Children is posted on their Facebook page, where hundreds more have expressed support by adding their names.
Illustration by Vanessa Brantley-Newton.