Children’s Book Group Seeks Diversity

The Wisconsin chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is marking the one-year anniversary of the creation of its Diversity Committee with the first formal program devoted to diversity. A Diversity Intensive will be held on Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, prior to WISCBWI’s annual Fall Conference that weekend at the Olympia Center in Oconomowoc.

“Seven Essentials of Writing and Illustrating for a Diverse Audience” presented by Tu Books Editor Stacy Whitman is the introductory 9-10 a.m. session. That session is mandatory for everyone wanting to attend one of two breakout sessions. Illustrator/author Dan Santat will address “Art School In Two Hours” from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

“Usually the best way to improve as an artist is to be smarter with design,” says Santat, whose Beekle, The Unimaginary Friend won this year’s Caldecott Medal and who has a long list of awards for the many books he has written and/or illustrated. He calls this session “A crash course into color theory, symbology, composition, creating art with a narrative, typography, and marketing.”

During approximately the same time slot (10:30 a.m.-noon) author Eleanora Tate will present “Tate’s Great Black, White, Brown, Red and Wheelchair-bound Yellow Brick Road to Reading and Writing” from 10:30 a.m.-noon. “In recent years, numerous literary, educational and scholarly groups and organizations have developed “Best” lists of what they deem to be outstanding children’s, young adults’ and diverse books. Unfortunately, these lists don’t seem to please everyone, including me, when my books are not on them. In this workshop, I’ll discuss my own Tate’s Greats list of “Best” books and my criteria for why they made MY list. I’ll also offer Tate’s Great Eight Tips for writing appealing children’s books.

Says Committee Co-Chair Pat Schmatz, author of Lizard RadioBluefishMousetrapsCircle of Truth and Mrs. Estronsky and the U.F.O. about the program:  “Who’s it for? Humans who want to write and/or illustrate for younger humans.”

Committee Member Jamie A. Swenson, author of Boom! Boom! Boom!If You Were A Dog and Big Rig says: “You may be sitting there wondering if diversity affects you and your writing/illustrating. I believe it does – and if you’re feeling unsure of how to approach the topic – please consider attending this intensive. Our faculty is stellar; our community is strong. Why shouldn’t WI help lead the way to more diverse stories? We have certainly been leaders in many other areas, why not this one too?”

The cost varies from $20 for SCBWI members attending the conference to attend session one only, to $115 for non-SCBWI members to attend both sessions, but not attend the weekend conference.


For more information about the session or how to register, please contact Pat Schmatz at

For information about the Council for Wisconsin Writers, please visit the CWW website at





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Filed under authors, children's books, Uncategorized, writers

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