Ilene Wong posted this on the #WeNeedDiverseBooks Campaign event page on Facebook tonight: In case people haven’t heard today’s stupendous news: the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign will be going to BookCon! Special thanks to Aisha Saeed and Ellen C. Oh, who brokered the deal. I’m excited to be moderating Mike Jung, Lamar Giles, Marieke Nijkamp on the panel (or at least my alter ego I. W. Gregorio is :D), along with Grace Lin, Matt de la Peña and Jacqueline Woodson.
In response to the controversy that erupted last month over the lack of diversity in its schedule, BookCon has added a panel titled “The World Agrees: #WeNeedDiverseBooks” to its programming lineup. The panel includes five key members of the #WNDB campaign that emerged out of the BookCon controversy and three bestselling authors well-known for including diverse characters and exploring issues relating to diversity in their books: Jacqueline Woodson (Brown Girl Dreaming), Matt de la Peña (The Living), and Grace Lin (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon). The panel discussion is scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 31 from 10-11 a.m. The moderator will be #WNDB team member I.W. Gregorio, whose debut YA novel, None of the Above, will be published in 2015.
BookCon show manager Brien McDonald told PW that, after witnessing the outpouring on May 1 of tweets under the #WNDB hashtag concerning diversity in books, he contacted the organizers of the grassroots campaign and invited them to put together a panel. “When you look at BookCon and what we’re striving to do for the industry and what we will do as far as content, this is a really nice piece of it,” he said. “What they’re doing is highlighting an industry-wide conversation that is of critical importance. And it’s an issue a lot of readers definitely care about.”
Even though “The World Agrees” panel is taking place at the same time as a heavily-promoted conversation between two A-list authors, John Grisham and Carl Hiaasen, both Oh and McDonald are confident that the panel will draw an audience. “Given that the campaign and what they’ve done grassroots-wise, that in itself will have everyone curious,” McDonald said. “That’s positive for attendance. [It’s] going to be an awesome panel and a great opportunity for discovery.”