Friday, August 3, 2012

Christina Gonzalez—A Book Like Me: Diversity in Children’s Literature

Christina Gonzalez is a SCBWI success story, and she is the author of the award-winning novel THE RED UMBRELLA, and the upcoming A THUNDEROUS WHISPER. Christina shared that THE RED UMBRELLA was originally a picture book, then turned novel with Random House. 

From the get go, Christina had the audience engaged. How is multi-cultural different? Secret-it’s not different. You have to write a good story with strong characters. The nuisances are what make it special.
Readers should be able to see themselves, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a reflection. Write what calls to you. Make it YOU as you write it. 

Christina talked about how 90% of books have white protagonists, while 50% of kids today are not. It’s our job to show the different stories. Not just in ethnicity, but also in sexual orientation or religious beliefs.

Ethnicity can be found anywhere-a "white" woman in Iowa could have an amazing family history of a grandmother who immigrated from Germany, marrying a Jewish man. There is ethnicity in her life—different cultures.

Christina then had the audience work on a writing exercise where they had to think beyond their life—imagine a character of a different ethnicity, and think about some of the challenges or triumphs. But here’s the difference of how to write outside of your comfort zone—look at the emotions the character experienced, and relate it to an emotion you felt that was similar.
It was an inspiring session that I highly recommend to all writers. 

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