ORONO — Issues of diversity in children’s literature will be the focus of an online panel discussion with authors, illustrators and editors on April 6, hosted by the University of Maine Raymond H. Fogler Library.

The free public event, “Mirrors, Windows & Sliding Doors: A Panel Discussion on Diversity in Children’s Literature,” begins at 4 p.m. Register online for the event. For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation, email [email protected]

In recent years, three-quarters of published children’s books have featured white or nonhuman characters. The panel will address how this lack of diversity in books affects children and what educators, parents and community members can do to improve access to diverse books. The panelists also will discuss the importance of children seeing themselves in books, the importance of children seeing people different than themselves in books and the way reading helps children engage with different life experiences.

Panelists will answer questions from attendees following the discussion. 

The panel will be moderated by Krista Aronson, professor of psychology at Bates College and founder of DiverseBookFinder.org. Panelists include young adult author Heidi Heilig, middle-grade author Lisa Bunker, painter and illustrator Daniel Minter, middle-grade and picture book author Rajani LaRocca and children’s book editor Julie Bliven.

The event is organized by Alexandra Hinrichs, librarian at Leonard Middle School in Old Town, and Amber Gray, reference librarian at the University of Maine, and is supported in part by a grant from the Cultural Affairs/Distinguished Lecture Series Fund.

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