Children’s Books Authors Are Selling More Than Books. They’re Taking a Stand. 童書作家不只賣書還推政治主張
When photos began circulating of migrant children separated from their parents and placed in what looked like giant cages in detention centers, young adult novelists Melissa de la Cruz and Margaret Stohl had an immediate response. After texting nine author friends asking what they could collectively do, de la Cruz and Stohl drafted a statement of protest called “Kidlit Says No Kids in Cages,” denouncing “practices that should be restricted to the pages of dystopian novels.”
Within minutes, they had 94 signatures from “our fellow kidlit authors and supporters,” de la Cruz said. A day later the statement was posted on Twitter with more than 4,000 signatures. The group has now raised nearly $240,000 for legal services for the migrant families.
They also expanded fundraising to include online raffles and auctions for such services as manuscript evaluations by best-selling children’s authors and “character naming,” with the winning donor’s name to appear in an as-yet-to-be-written novel.
Another group of kidlit authors, agents and publishers made an online clearinghouse of original posters designed by prominent children’s book illustrators to protest family separation, all available for free download.
Children’s book creators similarly coordinated a response after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shootings in Parkland, Florida, in February. Graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier and YA novelist Jenny Han set up a group called Kidlit Marches for Kids, rallying colleagues to join the March 24 gun control protest spearheaded by the Parkland students, and designing a protest sign for marchers.
“We wanted to boost the signal of the kids,” Telgemeier said. Hundreds of kidlit authors marched under the banner in cities including San Francisco, New York and Pittsburgh.
Children’s books have always been political, of course — that is why they are fixtures on lists of banned or censored books. And the welfare of children has long been at the forefront for authors who write for them. But current children’s book creators are finding new outlets for their concerns, often banding together, with the support of social media, to increase their effect.
If the old image of a writer for children was a wise-child genius in the mold of Maurice Sendak — one who spoke up for kids and when necessary challenged the political powers that be, but indirectly — these days, children’s authors might not only hold signs at protest marches, they may also volunteer to strategize for a state assembly race, or even run for office.